Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
What Is A Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)?
A “tummy tuck”, or abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery that helps tighten and flatten the abdomen by removing excess skin and fat. The abdominal muscles get tightened down the middle. This helps to give the abdomen a flatter, leaner appearance. This procedure has one of the highest satisfaction rates of all plastic surgery procedures.
What Are The Types of Tummy Tucks?
Tummy tuck is the general name for procedures done to flatten the abdomen. They involve surgical removal of excess skin and fat from the abdomen. A true tummy tuck is called an Abdominoplasty, which also involves retightening the rectus abdominis muscles and moving the location of the belly button as seen on the outside of the abdomen. But not all tummy tucks are the same. There are different types of tummy tucks and different techniques for doing them, depending on your needs and goals. You and Dr. Fisher will determine which procedure is best for you.
- Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
- Tummy Tuck Lite (Avelar tuck, drainless tummy tuck)
- Mini tummy tuck
Abdominoplasty is what the term ”tummy tuck” generally refers to. The procedure is the gold standard and addresses the entire abdomen. An abdominoplasty involves removal of excess skin and fat from the abdomen, tightens the abdominal muscles that have spread due to pregnancy or weight fluctuations, and moves the position of the belly button on the skin to a more favorable location. It is a highly rewarding comprehensive procedure that flattens the abdomen.
Tummy Tuck Lite (Avelar Tuck, Drainless Tummy Tuck)
This type of tummy tuck does not address the muscles or the belly button, but it otherwise addresses the abdomen well for those who are good candidates. Liposuction of the entire abdomen is first done and is followed by the removal of excess skin from the lower abdomen. The Tummy Tuck Lite does not require drains and has a much quicker recovery compared to that of an abdominoplasty.
Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck involves only removal of tissue from the lower abdomen. It oftentimes requires an incision as long as that of a standard abdominoplasty, but occasionally it might be shorter. It does not address the belly button or the upper abdomen. The recovery is much faster. Most of those who qualify for this procedure only have a small amount of excess skin and minimal excess fat.
For those with a lot of fullness of the upper pubic area, a monsplasty involves removal of tissue just below the abdomen in the upper pubic area. It is usually done in conjunction with an abdominoplasty, but sometimes also on its own.
Learn more about Monsplasty.
A Panniculectomy is not a cosmetic procedure. It is a medically necessary procedure where an apron of hanging abdominal tissue, called a pannus or panniculus, is removed. This allows for an improved quality of life for those suffering from a significant amount of tissue that hangs down to the thigh-level and for those suffering from significant rashes in the skin folds. It is oftentimes covered by insurance if specific criteria are met. In order to qualify to see a plastic surgeon, both a referral from a primary care doctor or bariatric surgeon AND insurance-specific criteria gathered over at least a few months are required.
Candidates For Tummy Tuck Surgery
If you are considering tummy tuck surgery, first ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you lost a lot of weight and now struggle with excess skin that just won’t shrink?
- Have you had children and are unhappy with your sagging tummy and stretch marks?
- Are you unsatisfied with the results you’ve achieved through exercise and a healthy diet even though you’ve lost pounds?
- Are you in good general health and at a stable weight for at least 6 months?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be a good candidate for a tummy tuck. If you also have excess fat deposits in specific areas of your belly or a “muffin top”, you may be a good candidate for lipo-abdominoplasty, where liposuction is done at the same time as the tummy tuck. This enhances the contouring for those who are appropriate candidates.
Who Is Not A Good Candidate For A Tummy Tuck?
Not everyone is a good candidate for abdominoplasty. If you are planning for children in the near future, a tummy tuck probably isn’t ideal. Throughout pregnancy, the abdominal wall and its muscles that have been tightened will be forced to expand. This can lead to tearing and increased stretch marks. Once you’ve already had the tummy tuck, usually there isn’t enough extra skin anymore to deal with your new stretch marks.
If you are in the process of losing a significant amount of weight, then you should wait until you are as close as possible to your weight loss goals. Doing a tummy tuck when you are still really overweight followed by losing a lot of weight post surgery can lead to a suboptimal result since you may once again be left with excess skin.
Can I Have Tummy Tuck Surgery If I Smoke?
If you are an active smoker, you are not an ideal candidate for a tummy tuck. Smoking leads to poor wound healing, and in turn, can set you up for more serious complications. You must quit smoking completely and avoid all nicotine products (including patches) for at least 4 weeks prior to surgery.
Full Tummy Tuck vs Mini Tummy Tuck
With any tummy tuck procedure, you will be trading poor quality over-stretched skin for a scar and improved contour.
During a full abdominoplasty, an incision is made on the lower abdomen and runs approximately from one hip to the other. The fat and excess skin are cut, and the muscle is tightened with sutures. The belly button has to be detached and, after rearranging the skin and soft tissue, the belly button is repositioned on the abdominal wall. Drainage tubes are placed below the skin to improve proper healing and are removed within a few days post operation.
There are various procedures referred to as “mini tummy tuck” or “partial abdominoplasty”. These procedures are done through a smaller incision and they may not need navel relocation. They also generally do not address the upper abdomen. The fact is that very few people are ideal candidates for these procedures and, as a result, satisfaction rates are not as high as for full abdominoplasty. Although everyone wants as short of a scar as possible, this is just not feasible most of the time.
Preparing For Your Abdominoplasty
You prepare for this surgery as you would any surgery, and Dr. Fisher will walk you through this during your consultation. You’ll need to stop taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, and certain supplements. You’ll need to stop smoking for a couple of weeks before and after your surgery. She’ll discuss what you need to do to prepare physically.
Just as important with this surgery, however, is to prepare for your recovery. You have to remember that a tummy tuck involves moving abdominal muscles, trimming excess skin, and possibly moving your belly button. Plus, you’ll have a long incision. This adds up to your not being able to lift anything over a couple of pounds for a while. You’ll need to line up help with the kids and any household chores. Plus, you should fill your prescription for pain medication beforehand and get your recovery area comfy and ready to go.
The Abdominoplasty Procedure
The tummy tuck procedure takes approximately 2 to 5 hours for Dr. Fisher to perform. The patient will be placed under general anesthesia for this procedure.
To begin the procedure, two incisions are made: one from hipbone to hipbone close to the pubic area, and another around the navel. Skin is separated from the abdominal muscles. They are then pulled together and stitched into place for a firmer abdomen and narrower waist as discussed in your consultation. The skin is then stretched down over the newly tightened muscles and the navel is reattached where it looks natural. Excess skin in removed from the body and the incisions are then closed. Dr. Fisher will wrap the sutured areas with sterile surgical dressings.
Results Of Tummy Tuck Surgery
Tummy tucks deliver instant results, although you’ll have to wait for any residual swelling to resolve to totally experience them. Dr. Fisher will usually bring the rectus muscles back together in the middle of the stomach, as they often become permanently separated during pregnancy. This slims the patient’s waist contour. Otherwise, the procedure will give you a flat tummy, as you had in your younger days. Pockets of excess fat will have been removed, and you’ll love your new look. These changes are permanent, as well. There will be some sagging as you age, as you would expect, but that should be relatively minimal. If you maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle, you should enjoy your new flat abdomen for the duration.
Tummy Tuck Before And After
Abdominoplasty Patient Testimonial
Dr. Fisher’s experience made me feel very comfortable and gave me assurance of having my tummy tuck. It was a pleasure working with Dr. Fisher, I was very happy and pleased with the outcome of my surgery. – 5 Stars
Recovery From Tummy Tuck Surgery
You will need to arrange for someone to stay with you and help you for the first week after surgery. For the first few days, you will be walking bent over and you will need help going to the bathroom, showering, taking your medications on time, walking, and emptying your drain tubes.
An overnight hospital stay may be necessary. Recovery time ranges from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the patient. Abdominoplasty leaves a scar spanning the lower abdomen, but Dr. Fisher makes it low enough to be concealed by a bikini.
Can I Have A Tummy Tuck If I’m Planning To Have More Children?
Dr. Fisher emphasizes that her tummy tuck patients need to be finished having children to have this procedure. This isn’t an arbitrary thing — if you again gain the localized weight with pregnancy that will negate all of the changes made by a tummy tuck. Plus, it would place serious stress on your incision, possibly distorting your scar. If you’re even considering having any additional children, then this is not the time for this surgery.
Will An Abdominoplasty Help Me Lose Weight?
Some people believe a tummy tuck is weight-loss surgery. This is not remotely the case. Dr. Fisher wants her tummy tuck patients to be within 10 percent of their ideal body weight before they have this surgery. When a potential patient comes in who has not lost all of her baby weight yet, we advise her to come back when she has lost all of the weight. This is because weight loss will set up more sagging skin, which is what this surgery is trying to correct. This is a body-contouring procedure, not a weight-loss procedure.
Can An Abdominoplasty Be Combined With Other Procedures?
A tummy tuck is an involved surgery and recovery, so you may want to think twice before looking to combine it with other procedures. Still, should you want to address the effects pregnancy and breastfeeding had on your breasts, you could combine a tummy tuck with either a breast lift or a breast lift with augmentation. When a tummy tuck, breast lift, and liposuction are combined into a single surgery session, Dr. Fisher calls it a mommy makeover.
BodyTite Or Tummy Tuck?
BodyTite (RFAL radiofrequency assisted liposuction) can shrink tissues very well overall, particularly in someone that has an overall good skin tone like you. When done in combination with a more standard form of liposuction you would have a very nice improvement to your shape.
If you want the most dramatic look possible, an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) would theoretically give you that, with the tradeoff being the scar and 2-3 week preliminary recovery period. Still, an abdominoplasty will not address fat on your insides that make the belly pouch outward and in those cases, the abdomen may still round out (convexly) rather than being flat or concave. This is why overall weight loss and a stable weight is often recommended prior to abdominoplasty.
Yes, and if you have a full tummy tuck, it is a lengthy scar. That is unavoidable. To remove the necessary amount of sagging skin, Dr. Fisher usually needs to make the incision stretching from hipbone to hipbone. She drops the incision down toward the top of the pubic area so that the scar can be hidden under a bikini bottom or underwear, but there will still be a scar.
Risks Of Tummy Tuck Surgery
Abdominoplasty is major surgery, so it entails all of the risks involved with that: bleeding, poor wound healing, infection, reaction to anesthesia, and the like. There are few complications with these procedures, as they involve large muscle groups with limited nerves.
The one side effect, although not actually a side effect, is the extensive scar. Full, mini, and extended tummy tucks all create a lengthy scar. Dr. Fisher positions the incisions so the scar can be hidden under a bikini bottom or panties, but you will have a scar.