A “tummy tuck” is a cosmetic surgery that involves rejuvenation of the abdomen and flanks. Your plastic surgeon may also refer to this procedure as an abdominoplasty. There are three major components of a tummy tuck – management of excess skin, contouring of excess fat, and tightening of the abdominal muscles.
Multiple terms are used to describe tummy tucks, such as “mini” or “full” abdominoplasty. This refers to the degree of excess skin and fat that exists, and therefore the length of the incision needed to accomplish abdominal rejuvenation. If there is a small amount of excess skin and fat below the belly button, a “mini” abdominoplasty may be performed. The incision is made in the middle third of the abdomen along the bikini line. A “full” abdominoplasty, on the other hand, deals with moderate to larger amounts of excess skin and fat above and below the umbilicus, and therefore requires a longer incision, typically the entire length of the bikini line and around the belly button itself.
Patients who typically benefit from a tummy tuck include those who want improvement in their abdominal contour and waistline and want to fit better in clothing. Patients typically notice changes in their abdominal contour after pregnancy that cannot be improved with exercise alone. This is usually due to rectus diastasis, or widening of the abdominal muscles, due to the pressure on the abdominal wall in pregnancy.
The surgery itself takes about 3 hours and most patients are able to go home the same day. Most surgeons will leave a drain under the skin that will be removed by your surgeon after a few days. Many patients will feel the need to walk “hunched” over for a few days due to the tightening of the abdomen. Liposuction is often utilized as part of the tummy tuck procedure, especially along the flanks. It is expected to have bruising and swelling in the areas of liposuction for several weeks after surgery. Typically, a tummy tuck scar is hidden in the bikini line. Most surgical incisions will fully heal in 6-8 weeks.
The most serious possible complication to be aware of with this procedure is a DVT, or a blood clot in the legs, or rarely a PTE (blood clot in the lungs). In the lungs, blood clots can potentially be fatal. Therefore, all surgeons will stress early post-operative ambulation to prevent the development of blood clots.
For more information and to schedule a consultation, please call our office at (205) 871-4440.