Whether caused by pregnancy, weight changes, or aging, loose skin and excess fat around your waist and abdomen can make you feel self-conscious and unattractive. A tummy tuck can help women and men who are in overall good shape look more toned and fit.
What is a Tummy Tuck?
Tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, removes excess fat and skin and, in most cases, restores weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer.
A flat and well-toned abdomen is something many of us strive for through exercise and weight control. Sometimes these methods cannot achieve our goals.
Even individuals of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The most common causes of this include:
- Prior surgery
- Significant fluctuations in weight
Ideal Candidates for a Tummy Tuck
- You are physically healthy and at a stable weight
- You have realistic expectations
- You are a non-smoker
- You are bothered by the appearance of your abdomen
Tummy tuck surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image.
Tummy tuck procedures can either be complete or partial. The complete tummy tuck normally takes up to 5 hours of surgery. The partial tummy tuck, which is less invasive and involves a shorter incision, may take only a couple of hours of surgery. Many people combine their tummy tuck with liposuction for a more comprehensive enhancement.
With a complete tummy tuck, Dr. Kaplan will make a long incision across the lowest part of your abdomen from hip to hip. Another incision will be made around your navel. With a partial tummy tuck, the incision across the abdomen will be much shorter and there may be no incision around the navel.
In a complete tummy tuck, after the incisions have been made Dr. Kaplan lifts the abdominal skin as far up as the ribcage to reveal the muscles of the abdomen. These muscles are pulled closer together, carefully positioned, and stitched, firming the abdomen and narrowing the waist.
The lifted skin is stretched back into position and excess skin is eliminated. Then, Dr. Kaplan creates a new navel hole and the incisions are stitched closed.
After your tummy tuck, bandages will be applied to your abdomen and you will most likely have small, temporary drainage tubes below your skin to avoid fluid collection. Dr. Kaplan will prescribe medication to help you feel as comfortable as possible.
You will be encouraged to stand and walk as soon as you can after your surgery. This may be somewhat difficult at first, but it is important to maximize your blood circulation at this stage of the recovery process. You should also be careful not to lift, bend over quickly, or otherwise strain your abdomen during this early recovery stage. Dr. Kaplan may also advise you to lie on your back when you are sleeping and keep your knees propped up.
Keep in mind that everybody heals differently and there are many factors that can influence how quickly your body recovers from tummy tuck surgery. In general, however, within a week of surgery all tubes will be eliminated, stitches will be out, and your abdominal bruises and swollen areas will not get any worse. After 3 or 4 more weeks, you can stop wearing any kind of support device, you can start to be more active and exercise in moderation, you will be able to go back to work as long as it’s not too strenuous, and your abdominal bruises and swollen areas will obviously start to disappear. After a few months you’ll begin to see the benefits of your tummy tuck. At this time you should enjoy full sensitivity and comfort in your abdomen and you’ll notice the scars from the incisions beginning to fade.
Potential Risks and Complications
As with all surgeries, there are some risks associated with tummy tuck surgery, but with careful attention to your plastic surgeon’s directions both before and after your surgery, these potential complications can be minimized and treated effectively.
In rare instances, an infection or a blood clot may occur following tummy tuck surgery. These types of infections can be avoided with proper drainage and can be cleared up with medications Dr. Kaplan can prescribe. The best way to avoid blood clots is to follow your Dr. Kaplan‘s directions and start to move around and become active again as soon as possible after your tummy tuck surgery. If you are a smoker, you face a greater chance of longer healing time, poorer healing and other complications. You should stop smoking several weeks before your tummy tuck surgery and during the recuperation process.
Common Questions About Tummy Tucks
Where does the surgery take place?
Both partial and complete tummy tucks are performed in a hospital.
Will I be awake during my tummy tuck?
That depends on what type of anesthesia and what type of tummy tuck Dr. Kaplan decides is best for you. A general anesthetic will make you sleep during the entire procedure. A local anesthetic along with medications that will sedate you and make you sleepy will allow you to be awake but very comfortable during the surgery. Dr. Kaplan will discuss these options with you and make a determination during your consultation.
How long will it take to feel back to normal after my tummy tuck surgery?
Recovery time varies from person to person, but in general most men and women who have tummy tuck surgery can go back to work comfortably in just a couple of weeks. Sometimes it takes a few more weeks of resting to feel comfortable returning to work. The better condition you are in at the time of your surgery, the faster your recuperation will be.
Does exercise help the recovery process?
Exercise is a very important factor in recovering from tummy tuck surgery. It helps in many different ways – from reducing the amount of swelling and reducing the chance of a blood clot developing to helping give the muscles in your newly contoured tummy much more tone. Of course, you should exercise moderately at first and gradually increase the vigorousness of your exercise in relationship to your comfort level.