What does a tummy tuck do?
The goal of an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is to improve the overall appearance of the abdomen by contouring, firming, and shaping the abdominal area.
A tummy tuck can do two things- superficially, the procedure removes excess skin and fat, while internally, it restores the abdominal muscle wall structure creating a flatter, stronger abdomen
The main reasons patients are seeking a tummy tuck is they aren’t happy with their body post-pregnancy, or they had a time of weight gain and loss, or had previous bariatric surgery, resulting in rectus diastasis (separation of the rectus muscles that run vertically on the abdomen).
The fascia, which is not elastic, might have been over “stretched” during weight gain/pregnancy but never returned to normal state after weight loss- leaving laxity in the abdominal wall. Weakened abdominal muscles can also contribute to the appearance of a non-flat abdomen.
When weight is gained or in pregnancy, the skin is stretched, causing it to lose elasticity, and it doesn’t always return to the original state after weight loss.
What kinds of tummy tucks are there?
There are several types of tummy tucks: a mini, full, and extended; they can be combined with a mommy makeover, lipo, thigh lift, or BodyTite procedures. Dr. Schoonover of Kansas Plastic Surgery offers all of these and he can consult you on which ones would be best for your goals.
The tummy tuck abdominoplasty procedure:
After the patient is fully sedated under general anesthesia,an incision is made horizontally across the lower abdomen, at or below the bikini/underwear line and around the belly button. The abdominal skin is lifted, and the abdominal muscles are reinforced with sutures. The excess skin is pulled and trimmed above and or below the belly button depending on how much loose skin is present. The patient’s belly button will be adjusted into a new position after the excess skin has been removed. Then the patient’s incision will be closed, and they will be taken to the recovery room.
The surgical time is usually 2-5 hours depending on the patient, including additional procedures such as lipo or a Mommy Makeover combined with the tummy tuck. Depending on the procedure, small drain tubes may be placed under the patient’s skin in order to help drain excess fluid and fat.
Almost every patient goes home the same day if there aren’t any complications during surgery.
What are the recovery and side effects of a tummy tuck?
After surgery, the patient might be wrapped in bandages or a compression garment to help the healing process. Some patients feel pain, swelling, soreness, numbness, bruising and tiredness after the procedure- which is common. The healing process may take several weeks to several months, depending on the patient and the procedures involved.
What are the risks of having a tummy tuck?
As with any surgery, blood clots, infection, bleeding under the skin flap, poor healing or scarring may occur
There are things you can do to help avoid these risks. Leading up to the surgery, maintain a healthy diet and exercise not only your cardiovascular system, but your core muscles, as stronger abdominal muscles can shorten the recovery time. Exercise can also help reduce the risk of blood clots and swelling post-op. Prior to surgery, avoid any supplements and over the counter drugs that can thin the blood as per the doctor’s instruction.
After surgery, take the prescribed antibiotics, and keep the sutures clean. Follow the doctor’s orders when it comes to exercising after surgery, as strenuous activity too soon after surgery can cause complications. It is, however, important and beneficial to have a regular, safe, exercise program post-op once cleared by the doctor. Attend all follow-up medical appointments and ask any questions you may have at any time.
Tips for lasting results and scar care after a tummy tuck
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising- especially the core and abdomen area post-op will help the results last. Keeping the scar out of sunlight as much as possible will help minimize its appearance. You can topically place prescription strength or over the counter scar therapy that has a special form of silicone in it to help after the incision has healed. It may also be helpful to keep the scar area well moisturized with vitamin E oil.
*Always ask the doctor before attempting a new exercise program or using a topical cream. The doctor can offer recommendations that will be best for you.If you are a woman and plan on having (more) children, or you are still on your weight loss journey and still plan to lose a significant amount of weight, it might be best to wait for a tummy tuck.
Talk to Dr. Schoonover and his highly trained medical team at Kansas Plastic Surgery in Wichita to see if they can help you achieve the post-pregnancy or post-weight loss body that you want with a tummy tuck.
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