An abdominoplasty is a procedure that flattens your abdomen by removing extra fat and skin and tightening muscles in your abdominal wall. This surgical procedure is also known as a tummy tuck.
It is a major surgery, so it is important to educate yourself, thoroughly analyze your own situation, and take your time arriving at a final decision. A tummy tuck should be the last resort for people who have exhausted all other measures, and the procedure should not be used as an alternative to weight loss.
How is an abdominoplasty done?
Depending on the results you want, this surgery can take anywhere from one to five hours. Your situation also will decide whether you have the surgery as an in-patient or outpatient procedure. You will receive general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep during the operation. It’s important to have someone with you who can drive you home. If you live alone and you’re sent home after the procedure, you also will need someone to stay with you at least the first night after the surgery.
- Complete abdominoplasty This option is for patients who need the most correction. The incision (cut) is made low on the abdomen, at about the same level as your pubic hair, and usually extends from hip bone to hip bone. Your surgeon will then manipulate and shape the skin and muscle as needed. You will also have an incision around your navel (belly button) with this procedure, because it’s necessary to free your navel from surrounding tissue. Drainage tubes may be placed under your skin; these will be removed in a few days as your surgeon sees fit.
- Partial or mini-abdominoplasty Mini-abdominoplasties are done with shorter incisions and are often performed on patients whose fat deposits are located below the navel. During this procedure, your belly button most likely will not be moved. Your skin will be separated between the line of incision and your belly button. This type of surgery may also be performed with an endoscope (a long tube with a small camera on the end). This procedure may take up to two hours, again, depending on your situation and needs. As with the complete abdominoplasty, you may have drainage tubes after surgery.
- Circumferential abdominoplasty This surgery includes the back area. When there is a lot of excess fat in the back as well as the abdomen, you may have either liposuction of the back or circumferential abdominoplasty. The latter procedure allows for the removal of both skin and fat from the hip and back areas, which improves the shape of your body three-dimensionally.
After your partial or complete tummy tuck, your incision site will be stitched and bandaged. Your surgeon may have you wear an elastic bandage or compression garment after surgery. If so, it’s very important that you follow all of your surgeon’s instructions on wearing this garment and caring for the bandage. Your surgeon will also instruct you on how to best position yourself while sitting or lying down to help ease pain.
WHO ARE THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR A TUMMY TUCK?
A abdominoplasty is suitable for both men and women who are in good general health overall and are at a stable weight. It is best to be a non-smoker.
A abdominoplasty should not be confused with a liposuction (the cosmetic surgery used to remove fat deposits), although your surgeon may choose to perform liposuction as part of a abdominoplasty. Women who have muscles and skin stretched after several pregnancies may find the procedure useful to tighten those muscles and reduce that skin. A abdominoplasty is also an alternative for men or women who were obese at one point in their lives, and still have excessive fat deposits or loose skin in the abdominal area.