Tummy Tuck Surgery
The thought of tummy tuck surgery can be scary or overwhelming for someone who is not familiar with the procedure. DocShop breaks down the abdominoplasty procedure in detail to give you a better sense of what to expect. For information that pertains to your tummy tuck surgery specifically, such as the price of treatment, you should consult a cosmetic surgeon during an in-person patient consultation.
Abdominoplasty surgery can be performed using either general or local anesthesia; most surgeons prefer that the tummy tuck be performed while the patient is completely sedated, for safety reasons. This is because when the patient is unconscious, the abdominal muscles are completely relaxed, allowing the surgeon to complete the procedure with greater speed and ease without being hampered by unexpected muscle or bodily movement. Localized anesthesia is used in occasional cases of mini tummy tuck surgery, which is a shorter and less invasive surgery.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
Tummy tuck surgery takes several hours, depending on the type of procedure being performed. A partial abdominoplasty takes about an hour and half to complete, while other types of tummy tucks take two to five hours. Scarring is inevitable, though your surgeon will carefully plan the location of your incisions in order to minimize the visibility of your surgical scars. Follow your surgeon’s pre- and post-operative instructions closely to help minimize the size and darkness of your scars and increase the likelihood of a smooth and quick healing process for your incisions. The incisions are made to allow the surgeon to remove excess skin and tighten the abdominal muscles, producing a flatter, firmer abdomen.
Creating the Incisions
The number and length of incisions that are made by a tummy tuck surgeon will vary, depending upon the specific procedure being performed. There are different kinds of tummy tucks to address different kinds of aesthetic complaints. The mini tummy tuck, for example, involves a single, very small incision that is made below the navel. By contrast, circumferential abdominoplasty surgery requires an incision around the circumference of the waist line, since it involves the removal of loose hanging skin from the entire hip area, including the back. Traditional tummy tucks involve one incision along the front of the abdomen from one hip bone to the other. All incisions are carefully planned prior to surgery to improve the chances that the resulting scars will be easily hidden beneath underwear, bikinis, and other swim wear. You can speak with your surgeon about altering the position of your incisions, based on your body type and lifestyle preferences.
Naval Reattachment and Sculpting
Most tummy tucks involve changing the position of the naval in order to make the tightened skin of the abdomen appear more natural. To detach the navel, a second vertical incision is made across the abdomen’s central section. Depending on what your surgeon thinks will create a more appealing result, another small incision is made to either reattach your existing naval or artificially sculpt a new one. Naval reattachment and naval sculpting are surgical art forms, and surgeons more experienced with abdominoplasty surgeries will generally achieve better results.
Tightening of the Muscles
It is common for the abdominal muscles to become more lax as the patient ages. During abdominoplasty surgery, your cosmetic surgeon has the opportunity to tighten sagging abdominal muscle mass, as well as remove packets of excess fat and skin from the stomach area. Through the surgical incisions, the skin is separated from the abdominal walls. The abdominal muscles are pulled closer together and stitched into a position that will give them a more toned appearance. Tightening the abdominal muscles also tends to narrow the waistline.
After abdominoplasty surgery, particularly if you are lucky enough to have a very subtle scar, it may look like the loose skin around your stomach has been tucked into your body. It hasn’t. It has actually been removed. Following the tightening of the abdominal muscles, the skin is stretched downward, and excess skin is trimmed away. Sometimes liposuction is used to remove any unwanted fat pockets before the skin is pulled taut.
Eliminating Stretch Marks
Often, it is possible to eliminate or improve the appearance of stretch marks during the skin removal, depending on the location of the incision. Any stretch marks located slightly below the navel are often removed along with the excess skin while the remaining stretch marks often appear less prominent after tummy tuck surgery. This is because the stretching of the abdominal skin flattens the stretch marks, decreasing the degree to which they indent the skin.
Closing the Incisions
When the abdominoplasty surgery is complete, the skin is sutured together using surgical stitches. With the stitches in place, your skin cells will coalesce at the site of incision, closing the wound naturally over time. A surgical drain will also be inserted at the site of incision at the same time that the stitches are put into place. Surgical drains speed up the healing process and often alleviate pain from the buildup of fluids beneath the skin. As your body attempts to repair the damage to the surrounding cells, fluids build up and can cause complications during the tummy tuck healing process. Your surgeon may feel that a surgical drain is a necessary precaution. The surgical drain is usually removed before the stitches, about a week after surgery. The tummy tuck stitches will normally be removed in stages over a period of two weeks following surgery.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view abdominoplasty before and after photos.
Photo credit: Ramiro Morales, MD
Find an Abdominoplasty Surgeon in Your Area to Learn More
Tummy tucks are major surgical procedures that require a surgeon’s artistry and exceptional precision to produce aesthetically satisfying results. Use DocShop to find a cosmetic surgeon in your area who is both highly trained and experienced in performing abdominoplasty surgery.