Tummy Tuck Slims and Tightens Your Midsection
Abdominoplasty, known more commonly as a “tummy tuck,” is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and can also tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. It can also be combined with liposuction when necessary and deemed safe for the individual. The procedure can dramatically improve the appearance of a protruding abdomen and smooth and enhance its shape. Abdominoplasty is very commonly performed after pregnancy in women, or after weight loss in both men and women.
The extent of a ‘tummy tuck’ at our Oklahoma City practice varies from a full abdominoplasty (which involves a horizontal incision at the panty line and around the belly button) to a mini abdominoplasty with a shorter incision at the pubic hairline only. The extent of necessary muscle tightening, liposuction, and skin tightening all determine which type of abdominoplasty is the best for each patient. Dr. Jones will discuss your options after consultation with you and careful examination with consideration of your goals and acceptable down time and risks.
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are men or women who are in relatively good shape and health, but are bothered by an abdominal fat deposit, a persistent ‘pooch’, or loose abdominal skin that won’t respond to diet or exercise. The surgery is particularly helpful to women who, through pregnancy, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients, which frequently occurs with slight obesity, can also be improved. Patients who intend to lose a lot of weight should postpone the surgery, as it is safer and produces better results in patients close to their ideal weight. Also, women who plan future pregnancies should wait, as vertical muscles in the abdomen that are tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy and skin can also re-stretch. As with all surgeries, abdominoplasty does have risks, and these will be discussed extensively during your consultation with Dr. Jones.
In your initial consultation, Dr. Jones will extensively discuss your goals with surgery, evaluate your health, and carefully examine you to determine the most appropriate procedure. He will then discuss the various options with you and what can be achieved with each, including their specific risks and typical recovery. He will also review before and after pictures with you as necessary to further display what can be achieved. All facets of the surgical workup are covered during the initial consultation and afterwards patients are prepared for the scheduling process. Some will require further medical workup such as labs, imaging, medical clearance, etc. as needed.
Full abdominoplasty usually takes two to three hours, depending on the extent of work required. Mini abdominoplasty may take an hour or two. Most patients are allowed to return home or somewhere within 30 minutes of the office the night of surgery, but some do require admission to the hospital. Many of the procedures performed utilize progressive sutures for tummy tucks done without drains.
For the first few days after surgery, the average patient will experience some swelling and pain, which can be controlled by medication. Most full tummy tucks will have one to two drains at this time, which are commonly removed within one week (mini tummy tucks commonly do not require drains). Patients will also commonly wear a compression garment for 6-10 weeks after a tummy tuck, depending upon if muscle was tightened, the size of the patient, the extent of the tummy tuck, if liposuction was performed, etc. This garment helps to speed recovery and protect the abdomen while it heals. Maintenance of a light diet during the early periods is also important as the pain medication and surgery can slow down your intestines. Light, careful activity is important as well to help reduce postoperative pain and the risk of complications. It is also common to walk hunched over for approximately one week as things heal and pain subsides. However, it is important to not lay around too much, as this can increase the risk of blood clots. After surgery, patients will commonly see results in 2-4 weeks, and some may take 8 weeks or longer. The incisions will continue to flatten, soften, and fade for a period of at least one year. Average return to work is approximately 2-3 weeks for a full abdominoplasty and one week for a mini abdominoplasty.