Our body changes with aging, pregnancy, or weight gain or loss. The abdomen often becomes the focus of dissatisfaction due to these changes despite our attempt to maintain a healthy diet and stay active. Dissatisfaction is resulted from excess skin with or without excess fat and laxity of the abdominal wall (diastasis) causing contour deformity. Tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, removes the excess skin and fat of the lower abdomen below the belly button and tightens the abdominal wall to achieve the aesthetic contour for the abdomen. (See before and after photos of tummy tuck surgery)
What is Tummy tuck surgery?
The surgery is done under general anesthesia. The incision is typically from one hip to the other low in the pubic area and around the belly button. The tummy tuck or abdominoplasty removes the excess skin and fat of the lower abdomen and tightens the abdominal wall after the skin flap is raised from the abdominal wall. The belly button will be transposed through the skin at about the same position on your abdominal wall. There will be two drains placed during the surgery to help remove the fluid after surgery.
Tummy tuck surgery can be combined with liposuction to improve the contour of the flanks/love handles.
Can tummy tuck be combined with other surgery?
Tummy tuck can be combined with other surgeries including liposuction, breast surgeries, arm tuck and more. A surgical plan will be customized to your specific need after evaluation. Liposuction specifically should only be done in the flank and back areas and only minimally in the abdomen at midline to reduce the risk of tissue necrosis.
Who are candidates for tummy tuck?
Ideal candidates are non-smoker, healthy individuals who have maintained an active lifestyle but are unable to get rid of the excess skin mainly and some fat of the lower abdomen. If you do smoke/vape or use any nicotine product, you need to stop using for at least 2-3 months prior to surgery and remain nicotine free for 3 months after surgery to optimize healing. It’s essential to have your diabetes controlled and stop using nicotine products before and after surgery. Otherwise, your risk of skin and tissue necrosis and open wound is extremely high that surgery should not be pursued. Hypertension must also be well controlled because of high risk for bleeding and hematoma after surgery if blood pressure remains high.
What is the recovery?
Patient typically goes home on the same day. Pain is controlled with pain medication and typically patients only take tylenol and ibuprofen after 2-3 days. Bruising usually resolves by 2 weeks, but swelling can take 6-8 weeks to resolve. The drains remain in place for 1-2 weeks. Most patients feel back to base baseline around 1 week. Abdominal binder or compression garment is worn for about 6 weeks to help reduce swelling and improve the contour. Walking is extremely important immediately after surgery to reduce risk of blood clot forming in the legs. Having assistance at home to help you move around and walking is essential to your recovery. Strenuous exercise is not recommended for at least 6 weeks.
What are the complications of a tummy tuck?
As with any surgery, there is risk of bleeding, infection, hematoma, fluid collection despite drain placement and after drain removal, tissue necrosis, open wound, contour deformity, scarring, asymmetry, decrease or no sensation in the surgical area, and need for further surgery. One of the most serious complications is blood clot forming in the legs and traveling to the lungs. Hence, it is extremely important to mobilize and walk immediately after surgery to reduce this risk. It’s essential to have your diabetes controlled and stop using nicotine products before and after surgery. Otherwise, your risk of skin and tissue necrosis and open wound is extremely high that surgery should not be pursued.