Jefferson K. Kilpatrick, MD | Russell B. Stokes, MD | Hannah Parbst, Esthetician
For many women who have gained and lost excess weight, or who’ve had children, the excess skin below the belly button is a significant concern. A tummy tuck is often the best solution to this problem.
A “Tummy Tuck” or Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to flatten a protruding abdomen by tightening the muscles in the abdominal wall and removing excess fatty tissue and skin. The procedure is a common one and can benefit men and women who are bothered by a protruding abdomen.
Patients whose weight has been stabilized in their weight loss program or who feel they are at their ideal weight are the best candidates for a tummy tuck. Many patients combine their tummy tuck with other cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation or breast reduction surgery.
During your private consultation with your surgeon, you should explain your goals and expectations of the surgery. Your surgeon will assess the nature of your abdomen, your expectations and explain the probable outcome of your procedure.
There are three basic techniques used to flatten a protuberant abdomen. The best technique for you will depend largely on your goals and your specific problem. Liposuction alone can produce a thin abdominal wall for some. If your laxity and excess skin is below your naval, a mini tummy tuck may be right for you. For those with severe laxity of their abdominal muscle or excessive skin, a fully tummy tuck may be their only solution.
A tummy tuck is usually performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia.
A fully tummy tuck involves an incision around the belly button and another incision that runs from hip to hip. Your entire abdominal wall is tightened with permanent sutures and the excess skin and fat removed.
A mini tummy tuck is usually performed in conjunction with liposuction of the upper abdomen and the flank areas. With a mini tummy tuck, a smaller incision is made in your bikini area and no incision is made around your belly button. Your surgeon will remove your excess skin and fat through this incision. Permanent sutures will also be placed through this incision to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Regardless of which procedure you have, your incisions are closed with small sutures. Small drains may also be inserted to eliminate fluid buildup. Snug elastic bandages are then applied to the area.
Most patients experience some numbness in the area of their abdomen, which may last as long as a year. Any pain or discomfort that follows surgery can be controlled with oral medication. If drains are used, they may remain in place for three to seven days until discharge fluids decrease. Sutures will be removed in 1-2 weeks; however, your bandages may remain a little longer. A special abdominal support garment is often necessary for several weeks. There will be some scarring that will fade significantly over time.
During your recovery, you must refrain from any strenuous activity or lifting. Most patients are back to work within one to three weeks, depending on the degree of surgery. Your surgeon will decide when you can resume normal activities. Results can be quite dramatic and patients love their slimmer, trimmer figures and flatter abdomens.