A tummy tuck, sometimes referred to as abdominoplasty, is a procedure in which excess fat and skin are removed from the abdomen. Weak or separated abdominal muscles are often tightened as well. The result is a smoother, firmer appearance to the abdomen.
The surgery is often done on women who have lost skin elasticity and muscle tone due to pregnancy. Other candidates may include those who have lost large amounts of weight or older individuals wanting to return their abdomen to a youthful appearance.
Anesthesia will be administered. Once the patient is sedated, a horizontal incision is made between the navel and pubic hairline. The length of the incision is dependent on the amount of correction needed. The surgeon works through the incision to repair muscle and remove excess tissue, fat and skin. If there is excess skin to be removed from the upper abdomen, a second incision at the navel may be needed.
The incision is closed with clips, tape, sutures or skin adhesives, depending on incision size and surgeon preference. Drain tubes may also be inserted to prevent fluid buildup in the abdomen. In most cases, patients are able to return home a few hours after surgery, but some require an overnight stay.
Patients are encouraged to start walking as soon as possible to aid circulation. Lifting, straining, bending and sitting for long periods of time are also discouraged as they can increase swelling and possible cause bleeding.
The full recovery period varies between patients, but most patients can resume non-strenuous activities within a few weeks. Most normal activities can be returned to after a few weeks. Sexual activity should be abstained from for at least two weeks, possibly longer depending on the surgeon’s advice.
Patients may be advised to wear a support garment for a few weeks . Drains are removed a week after the surgery. Sutures may be removed one to two weeks after surgery. Swelling and bruising are to be expected, reducing in severity over time. There will be a scar. However, the incision is made in the natural fold of the skin to be less noticeable. Initially, the incision will be red or pink, but it will fade over time.
It may take several months before swelling disappears and the scar fades. Only then will the patients see the full effects of the tummy tuck. The abdomen will appear smoother, firmer and more youthful.