Abdominoplasty (Tummy tuck) surgery is one of the most powerful body contouring procedures addressing both the excess skin of the abdomen and stretched out separated abdominal muscles. By tighten the muscle, the function of the abdominal wall is restored and strengthen. Muscle tightening also creates a more defined silhouette of the mid-section. Liposuction of other areas can be performed in conjunction with a tummy tuck to achieve the best contour possible. There are different types of abdominoplasty.
Full Abdominoplastyis the traditional tummy tuck. Incisions are made from one side of the hip to the other right above the pubic area and around the belly button. This technique gives access to anterior abdominal wall area to allow removal excess fat and skin, tighten the rectus abdominus muscle, and reposition the belly button. A full tummy tuck horizontal scar is designed to be easily concealed by undergarments. The procedure is most suitable for women who have moderate to significant skin excess, such as skin folds, from multiple pregnancies or massive weight loss.
Mini Abdominoplasty is a less invasive alternative to the traditional full abdominoplasty. This technique is recommended for patients with minimal excess abdominal skin and significant rectus diathesis (wide separation within of the rectus muscle causing weakened abdominal wall). Through a small incision (slightly longer than standard C-section scar), the muscle is tightened, and small amount of lower abdominal skin can be removed to attain a well-toned abdominal contour. There is no scar around the belly button, and it may be moved to a lower position if excess skin is excised.
Extended Tummy Tuck is indicated for patients with massive skin excess. The surgery may involve the traditional hip to hip incision with extension to the flank, lower back, and navel areas depending on the necessary pull vector. This may also involve a vertical incision up to the belly button, or “Fleur-de-lis” style tummy tuck.
Who is a Good Candidate for Abdominoplasty?
The best candidates are healthy people with realistic expectations of surgery. Smoking however is a contraindication for this cosmetic procedure as historically smokers have significantly more complications. The best candidates are non-smokers, or former smokers who have quit smoking for at least one month prior to surgery. After abdominoplasty, pregnancy is still possible, however patients who develop abdominal wall weakness and excess skin after pregnancy may need additional surgery. One of the post-operative concerns that is not commonly mentioned is the removal of lower abdominal tissue in abdominoplasty preclude patients from having autologous tissue reconstruction or augmentation using the lower abdominal tissue.
How is Abdominoplasty Surgery Performed?
Depending on your needs and goals, different types of abdominoplasty may be more suitable. All types of abdominoplasty are performed in the operating room under general anesthesia. Dissolvable sutures will be used to close the incisions. Drainage tubes will be inserted under the skin for a period of several days to aid in the healing process.
What is the Recovery?
Downtime from an abdominplasty is about three to four weeks. During that time, you will feel some tightness and your activities will be restricted. Bruising and swelling will be greatest in the first week but should resolve in four weeks. Abdominoplasty with muscle plication (repair of the muscle separation) is a painful process and pain medication is often necessary in the first week.