A Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty is a procedure that improves abdominal contours. It involves tightening the supportive tissues of the abdominal wall and removing excess skin and fat. This may be considered by individuals that have had considerable weight loss, liposuction or have stretching of the abdominal tissues due to bearing children. Patients intending to lose weight or plan future pregnancies may consider postponing the procedure.
Tummy Tuck or Liposuction
Many times patients inquire about the benefits of liposuction compared to abdominoplasty. Liposuction is best for patients with localized fat deposits with good skin elasticity without excessive skin or abdominal laxity. Abdominoplasty gives the best results in patients who have redundancy of skin and abdominal wall laxity. Many times patients have these procedures after they have completed their plans for children and would like to regain some of their contours. Women who are done having children will sometimes be good candidates for a “Mommy Makeover.” This is a combination of breast augmentation and abdominoplasty to restore tighter body counters and fuller, smoother breasts that have be stretched by the natural processes of pregnancy and lactation.
Tummy tucks are performed with a horizontal incision above the pubic bone and below the navel. The shape and length of the incision varies from person to person, based on the amount of skin that needs to be removed. Sutures are applied below the skin, in the connective tissues of the abdominal wall to tighten the muscles that have become stretched by significant weight gain or carrying children. These stitches harmlessly dissolve over time.
Two developments in the last several years have made abdominal plastic procedures significantly more safe and tolerable. The first is a suturing technique that allows us to avoid the need for “drains” in the wound and reduces the risk of fluid accumulation and infection. With this technique the skin flap is sutured to the abdominal wall, closing the space that otherwise had been prone to fluid accumulation. The second innovation has been the development of an injectable pain killer that is used at the conclusion of the procedure. This medication keeps the patient relatively comfortable for 72 hours. Not only does this provide significant pain relief, but it also increases the ability to stand, walk and carry on with moderate activity, which actually helps to reduce the possibility of complications and the need for narcotics that can have other negative side effects.
Risks include infection, swelling, nerve damage, and increased cellulite.
Patients go home the same day, and return to the office for follow-up visits as needed. After this procedure, most individuals are able to return to physical activities within two to three weeks. The procedure does produce a long, permanent scar below the waistline in a position that can typically be concealed by an undergarment.
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