Abdominoplasty is the medical term for the plastic surgery procedure we use to remove the skin and excess fat from the abdominal area and to strengthen the muscles of the abdominal wall that can become weak after one or multiple pregnancies. The procedure can boast spectacular results when it comes to patients with skin folds on the tummy or other imperfections of the abdomen.
The tummy tuck intervention will leave behind one or multiple permanent scars and can also entail certain potential risks and complications. This is the reason why it is always recommended to weigh the pros and cons of the intervention before scheduling the procedure. Moreover, make sure to discuss your expectations with the plastic surgeon and ask for all the details of the tummy tuck before going further with the surgery.
In this article, we will discuss the tummy tuck procedure, what it entails, and also what patients can expect in terms of results.
Am I a good candidate for the tummy tuck?
You can have a look online and see plenty of tummy tuck before and after pictures. Do you think your abdominal condition is similar to the patients in the pictures who have undergone the intervention? Then chances are that the procedure is recommended for you and the only thing left to do is check if there are contraindications for the procedure.
The ideal candidate for the tummy tuck can be a man or a woman in good health condition who is bothered by the excess of fat and skin folds that are present on the inferior part of the abdomen. The sagginess of the skin in this part of the body often occurs after one or multiple pregnancies or as a result of a sudden or considerable weight loss. Many new mothers notice that after childbirth the skin on the abdomen doesn’t get back to the initial shape, even if they managed to lose the extra weight that was gained during pregnancy. The unsightly appearance of the abdomen is often caused by the overstretching of the muscles on the abdominal wall. So even if the patient is not overweight, the abdomen is not flat and firm because the muscles are distended and give an unwelcoming aspect of the area.
When considering your candidacy for the tummy tuck, you have to think of several aspects. Before anything else, it is recommended that the procedure should be performed only on patients who are close to their ideal weight and have no plans for further weight loss or ulterior pregnancies. If you want more children later on in life, your plastic surgeon might recommend you to wait until you are done having children before having a tummy tuck procedure. At the same time, if you are overweight and planning to undergo a tummy tuck, your plastic surgeon might advise you to postpone the procedure until the weight loss process is complete and your weight has been stable for more than six months, preferably one year.
Severe or chronic blood, heart and lung conditions can also be contraindications to the procedure. Make sure to discuss your medical history, current medication, and allergies with the plastic surgeon in detail even from the initial meeting to make sure you are an eligible candidate. Having the tummy tuck done when there are underlying medical conditions that make you ineligible for the intervention can result in complications or a long and difficult recovery process after the surgery.
Overview of the tummy tuck intervention
Getting a tummy tuck is a process that starts with a pre-operative consultation with the plastic surgeon. We have already mentioned some of the things to expect or to discuss during this meeting with the plastic surgeon. A medical examination will also take place during this time. The plastic surgeon will examine the fat deposits present in the abdominal area, the condition of the muscles of the abdominal wall, and the quality of the skin in the area. If most of the skin folds are present at the inferior part of the abdomen and limited in surface, a mini tummy tuck might be enough to achieve your aesthetic goals. At the same time, if you have good skin elasticity, the muscles are in good condition and no skin sagginess is present, the plastic surgeon might even recommend you to undergo an abdominal liposuction instead of an abdominoplasty. But it is most often that the liposuction and the tummy tuck will be combined to achieve superior results.
For a vast majority of patients, the procedure is performed under general anesthesia for the comfort of the patient. This is especially recommended if liposuction will be performed during the same operation or if the procedure is more complex. The operative time for a tummy tuck can range between two to five hours, depending on the complexity of each case and the surgical plan chosen. A mini tummy tuck usually lasts no longer than an hour or two, but they are not as often performed as a complete tummy tuck or the hourglass tummy tuck, which are lengthier.
The surgical plan for the tummy tuck often consists of a long incision on the suprapubic area, on the lower fold of the abdomen. If the belly button needs to be repositioned, an additional incision will be performed around it. After the incision is performed on the low part of the abdomen, the skin and fat tissue gets separated from the muscles and lifted up to the rib cage. The plastic surgeon will then proceed to strengthen the abdominal wall muscles by performing sutures on them. Diastasis recti is the name of the condition that is defined by the muscles of the abdomen having a gap in between them, caused by the overstretching that occurs when the uterus grows during pregnancy. It is important to be aware of the fact that diastasis recti or loose abdominal muscles can’t be corrected by means of physical exercise or diet. It is just surgery and the use of sutures that will bring them back together close to the medial line so they can give a firm and toned appearance of the abdomen once again.
After the muscles have been strengthened, the plastic surgeon will pull back the skin over them. The excess of skin and adipose tissue are removed, and the incision is closed with sutures. Drain tubes are often inserted close to the surgical site to help with liquid and blood evacuation for a few days after the procedure.
Patients rarely require hospitalization for more than 24 hours after the intervention and only after complex interventions where a large quantity of tissue was eliminated.
After being released from the medical facility, the patient is advised to go home and rest. At least two weeks off from work are recommended after the tummy tuck, even if resuming the day-to-day activities can start the following day after the procedure.
Results to be expected after the tummy tuck intervention
As you can see from tummy tuck before and after pictures in the video, patients can enjoy a firmer, more toned, and flatter abdomen. If the hourglass tummy tuck is performed, then the complete shape of the patient’s body is improved. During the hourglass tummy tuck, the plastic surgeon will also use liposuction on the middle area and fat transfer to the hips to improve the silhouette and avoid achieving a Spongebob figure that can result after a traditional tummy tuck.
The results to be expected after the hourglass tummy tuck are more impressive as they translate into a better waist-to-hip ratio, aside from a flat and firm tummy.
The tummy tuck provides permanent results that can be easily sustained in time if the patient maintains a constant and stable weight and no ulterior pregnancies occur. Any weight fluctuations that might occur after the procedure can alter the aesthetic result and create the need for additional plastic surgery interventions.
To be able to get an idea of what to expect after the abdominoplasty procedure, you can have a look at tummy tuck before and after pictures. Many types of patients, both men and women of different ages, choose this intervention to redefine the aspect of their abdomen and strengthen loose abdominal muscles, so it should be easy for you to find a patient with similar body characteristics as yours. However, to understand and confirm your eligibility for the procedure, you need to see the plastic surgeon for a pre-operative consultation. During this time, he will perform a medical examination and check the tissues of the abdomen. A mini tummy tuck can be recommended for a minor level of sagginess on the tummy.
The procedure is a complex one and should only be performed by board-certified and experienced plastic surgeons in facilities that are accredited.