Aging, weight fluctuations, and pregnancy can transform the body in ways out of our control. Often, the changes the body goes through can be difficult to correct even with a vigorous diet and exercise plan. Stretched out skin, excess fat, and weak abdominal muscles can create the appearance of a protruding abdomen. Having hanging skin and a stomach that sticks out can be unflattering and even uncomfortable for a person. Tummy tuck surgery can be performed to reverse the effects caused by weight changes, aging, and pregnancy. By removing excess fat and skin tissue as well as tightening the abdominal muscles, an individual can achieve a tighter, smoother abdomen.
How Can a Tummy Tuck Help?
- Tummy tuck surgery is performed under a general anesthetic.
- A horizontal incision is made below the pubic hairline and under the panty line.
- The navel is separated from the abdominal skin, the abdominal muscles are tightened, fat is liposuctioned, the skin is pulled tight, and excess skin is trimmed away.
- In most cases, excess fat on the hips and flanks is removed by liposuction. Liposuction involves the surgical removal of fat using a small vibrating wand called a cannula that is attached to a motorized handpiece.
- A skin opening will be created for the belly button in a natural location.
- The incision is closed with sutures.
Surgical drains are applied to promote healing and control swelling. Patients should rest and avoid any strenuous activity that can put stress on the abdomen for two to four weeks. Once the patient is feeling better in a few days, they should start activities such as walking to help them to avoid complications such as blood clots. In two weeks, patients may resume normal activities and return to work. Exercise may be resumed in six weeks.
The cost of surgery will vary depending on the geographic location, the extent of the surgery, and the surgeon’s experience. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the average surgeon’s fee for tummy tuck surgery in 2014 was $5,493. However, this cost does not include operating room fees, anesthesia, and any other surgery-related expenses.
Patients will experience some discomfort, bruising, and swelling, which will subside each day. Pain can be controlled with prescription medication. Dr. O’Toole also places a pain pump for the first three days to help lessen muscle pain.
There will be some scarring after tummy tuck surgery which will fade and become less noticeable over time. Fading of scars will vary depending on the patient’s ability to heal and genetic factors. Dr. O’Toole makes the incision low in the bikini area, making it easy to hide scars under a bathing suit and underwear.
Results are designed to last a lifetime; however, it is important to maintain results with a healthy lifestyle. Significant weight gain or subsequent pregnancy can cause a reversal of the results.
Q. Who is a good candidate for tummy tuck surgery?
The best candidates for tummy tuck surgery are close to their ideal body weight and are bothered by stubborn fat deposits or loose skin in the abdominal region. Women interested in tummy tuck surgery should wait until they are done having children before having the procedure. Those who plan on losing a significant amount of weight should postpone surgery. Ideally, a tummy tuck patient should be in good health, have realistic expectations, and desire the surgery by their own choice without external pressures.
Q. Can tummy tuck surgery be combined with other procedures?
In addition to liposuction, tummy tuck surgery can also be combined with other body lift procedures. These are commonly utilized during post-bariatric plastic surgery. Tummy tuck is commonly performed along with a breast lift or breast augmentation during a Mommy Makeover.
Q. What are the risks and complications of tummy tuck surgery?
As with any surgery, a tummy tuck can involve some risks and complications, such as:
- Anesthesia risks
- Impaired wound healing
- Allergic reactions
Q. What is a mini tummy tuck procedure?
In cases when a patient has a small “pooch” below the belly button that they would like to get rid of, a mini tummy tuck may be appropriate. A mini tummy tuck involves a smaller incision and only tightens the abdominal muscles and removes excess fat and skin below the navel.
Q. How is an extended tummy tuck performed?
Patients who have love handles or hips with excess skin can have these areas addressed along with the abdomen. An extended tummy tuck involves a tummy tuck in the front of the abdomen, and the incision extends over the hips and to the side of the thighs to improve the contours.