Pregnancy, family history, extreme weight gain or loss, and aging – they all impact your abdominal muscles and waistline. Abdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck, improves the shape of abdomen by removing extra stores of fat, excising sections of skin, and tightening the muscles.
Tummy Tuck Expectations
Be realistic about your abdominoplasty. It’s meant to correct areas where diet and exercise have not helped. It’s not meant, however, to replace exercise routines or become an alternative to weight loss. While a tummy tuck may remove some stretch marks on the areas of skin below the belly button where skin is being removed, it will not address stretch marks in other areas. The best candidates for a tummy tuck are those who do not smoke, understand the realities of the surgery, are in good health, and do not let their weight fluctuate.
While every case is different, a typical abdominoplasty takes two to five hours. The procedure starts with the administration of anesthesia or a sedative. Horizontal incisions are made near the pubic hairline. They also may be made near the belly button to remove skin on the upper abdomen. The abdominal muscles are repaired using sutures, extra skin is removed, and then the incisions are closed.
WILL A TUMMY TUCK GET RID OF A POST-PREGNANCY POOCH?
For many women, pregnancy causes the abdominal skin to become loose and saggy, and the abdominal muscles to stretch and separate. Together, these issues cause what looks like a pouch or a “pooch” in the lower abdomen. Unfortunately no amount of exercise or healthy eating can rectify a post-pregnancy pooch. The question is — can a tummy tuck adequately solve the problem?
What Tummy Tuck Accomplishes
If you are self-conscious of a pooch and exploring tummy tuck as a possible solution, you should be relieved to know that tummy tuck is perfectly suited to correct the abdominal problems caused by pregnancy.
During the tummy tuck procedure, liposuction is used to remove excess fat deposits. Excess skin is removed and the remaining skin is tightened. The abdominal muscles are also repaired and stitched together in a corset-like pattern. The goal of these procedural steps is to create a flatter and firmer abdomen and a slimmer waistline.
Some women believe that liposuction alone is enough to reduce their pooch, but they are mistaken. While liposuction is perfect for removing fat (and is incorporated into tummy tuck), it won’t have any effect on the quality of the skin. The only way that liposuction alone would help is if the amount of fat was minimal and the elasticity of the skin was at its normal pre-pregnancy state.
After Abdominoplasty Surgery
Following abdominoplasty, dressings may be placed over the incisions. Your doctor may dress you in a compression garment to help keep swelling down and provide support to the healing abdomen. To aid with drainage of fluids and blood, a drain may be inserted under the skin, too. You will end up with a scar, but it is easy to hide because it falls below the bikini line.
Your doctor sends you home with specific instructions on topical or oral medications you must take. It’s especially important to recognize signs of infection, so your doctor will discuss those signs and what to do if you have questions or concerns. You’ll return after a week to have drains removed, and stitches are removed after a week or two.
Recovery from the Procedure
Recovery takes anywhere between two weeks to a few months.* You will not be able to exercise for a few weeks, and sexual activity must be avoided for at least two weeks, more if your doctor advises you to wait longer.* Bruising and swelling are common following the surgery, but they’ll go away after a few weeks.* Results last a long time if you maintain weight through proper diet and exercise.*
Tips to Minimize Liposuction Scarring
Your post-op care is essential to the healing of your scars and how much they fade over time. Dr. Kessler recommends the following:
Use topical creams or ointments as prescribed. These products will work to keep the area clean and protect it from bacteria and infection. Only silicone based products have been demonstrated to prevent scar widening and thickening. These come in both ointment and gel sheets, which can be obtained at our office. Vitamin E has been demonstrated to cause scar widening and should be avoided in the immediate post-operative period, which is the first eight weeks. Compression garments are also important to minimize swelling of the abdominal skin which, can create tension and have a negative impact on the appearance of your scar.
Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet. Not only does staying hydrated and eating right keep your skin beautiful and youthful, it also boosts your immune system and helps your body (scars included) heal quickly and properly. The active agents in wound healing are vitamin C and lysine. A protein-rich diet also helps provide the building blocks for collagen.
Don’t smoke. Smoking interferes with your body’s healing process, as it reduces your body’s ability to carry oxygen to the healing tissues. It also constricts blood vessels which leads to less circulation in healing wounds. Low oxygen leads to cell death which compromises wound healing. You should not smoke for at least two weeks before surgery and hopefully never restart.
Use proper sun protection. Exposing an incision or forming scar to the sun too soon after surgery can cause it to darken and thicken. Avoid exposing the treatment area to the sun for at least the first two weeks following surgery. After that, make sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin, including your scars.
Ease back into your normal routine slowly. For the first two weeks after surgery, you will need to avoid strenuous exercise and movement, including lifting heavy objects. During your follow-up appointment, Dr. Kessler can advise you on when it is safe to resume exercise and other activities. Generally we recommend patients to resume lower extremity exercise (e.g., stair master or stationary bike) two weeks after surgery and core activity no less than four to six weeks. You will need an additional two weeks to gradually build up to your usual regimen.
TUMMY TUCK FAQS
What is a Tummy Tuck?
A Tummy Tuck, also referred to as an Abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to restore a youthful figure.
Excess fat and skin are removed during the surgery, and the abdomen is made smoother and firm. A Tummy Tuck with flank liposuction is excellent for the improvement of a ‘muffin top’. To view the work of Dr. Kessler from patients who have underwent a tummy tuck visit our abdominoplasty gallery.
How is the Tummy Tuck performed?
There are several techniques that can be utilized during the Tummy Tuck procedure; these will depend on an individual patient’s needs. An incision will normally be placed directly above the pubic line, running from hip to hip.
Another incision may be placed around the belly button. From here, Dr. Kessler will remove the excess fat, lax skin and tighten loose muscle tissue. He will then reposition the remaining tissue, followed by sutures to hold the area in place while healing.
Who is a good candidate for a Tummy Tuck procedure?
Both men and women can make an excellent Tummy Tuck candidate. Patients should be in generally good health, a nonsmoker, and frustrated by lax tissue of the abdomen.
Where is the Tummy Tuck procedure performed?
Dr. Kessler performs all of his Tummy Tuck procedures at the nearby Star Point Surgical Center, or a local area hospital. A Tummy Tuck is normally performed as an outpatient procedure.
What type of anesthesia is used during a Tummy Tuck?
A Tummy Tuck is performed under general anesthesia.
How long is the Tummy Tuck procedure?
Depending on the extent of the procedure, a Tummy Tuck may take between three and five hours to complete.
What can I expect from a Tummy Tuck recovery?
A Tummy Tuck recovery will encompass six weeks.* Initially, patients will experience swelling, bruising, and moderate discomfort.* These will diminish over two weeks, and pain medications will be prescribed.* Patients may have temporary abdominal numbness, and soreness in the area, for several weeks.*
When can I return to work after a Tummy Tuck?
Patients should expect to take between 10 and 14 days off from work or school, after their Tummy Tuck procedure. After this time, most people feel well enough to return normal activities; although strenuous exercise and exertion should be held off for four to six weeks.*
Will there be scarring after my Tummy Tuck?
Yes, scarring does occur after a Tummy Tuck procedure, although these are well hidden under swimwear or clothing. Over time, these scars will lighten, but remain visible.
What are the risks involved with the Tummy Tuck procedure?
The Tummy Tuck procedure is known to be low-risk and highly effective. It is, however, an invasive procedure and holds the rare chance for complication.* These can include: infection, scarring, or excessive bleeding.*
Can I finance my Tummy Tuck?
Kessler Plastic Surgery patients have the option to finance their Tummy Tuck through CareCredit. An approved line of credit can be used for multiple cosmetic procedures. Additionally, Dr. Kessler accepts cash and all major credit cards.
*Your Results May Vary