Abdominoplasty, also called tummy tuck surgery, is an operation to remove excess fat and skin from your tummy and to tighten your abdominal muscles. An abdominoplasty can give you a tighter, flatter stomach and remove or reduce the appearance of stretch marks on your lower abdomen.
An abdominoplasty can remove folds of skin left behind after losing a lot of weight, and tighten stretched skin and muscles after pregnancy. Abdominoplasty surgery is an option in cases where excess fat, skin and sagging muscles have not been improved by diet and exercise. Pregnancy can cause muscles and skin to stretch so much that they do not return to normal, especially after caesarian section. In older people loss of skin elasticity (a result of ageing), loss of muscle tone and mild obesity can contribute to an unsightly protuding abdomen.
An abdominoplasty surgery is not a treatment for weight control or a substitute for regular physical activity and a healthy, balanced diet. The results of an abdominoplasty can be permanent as long as you maintain a healthy weight after your operation.
Complete abdominoplasty usually takes two to three hours,
depending on the extent of work required. Partial abdominoplasty
may take an hour or two.
1. Abdominoplasty: Incisions
An incision just above the pubic area is used to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen.
Most commonly, a long incision will be made from hipbone to hipbone,
just above the pubic area. A second incision is made to free
the navel from surrounding tissue. With partial abdominoplasty,
the incision is much shorter and the navel may not be moved.
2. Abdominoplasty: Separation of skin
Skin is separated from the abdominal wall all the way up to the ribs.
Next, the skin is separated from the abdominal wall all the way
up to your ribs and lifts a large skin flap to reveal the vertical
muscles in your abdomen.
3. Abdominoplasty: Muscle tightening
These muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position.
This provides a firmer abdominal wall and narrows the waistline.
4. Abdominoplasty: Removal excess skin
The skin flap is then stretched down and the excess skin is removed.
A new hole is cut for your navel, which is then stitched in place.
Finally, the incisions will be stitched, dressings will be applied,
and a temporary tube inserted to drain excess fluid from beneath
5. Abdominoplasty: The final result
After surgery, the patient has a flatter, trimmer abdomen. Scars are permanent, but will fade with time.
In partial abdominoplasty, the skin is separated only between the incision line and the navel. This skin flap is stretched down, the excess is removed, and the flap is stitched back into place.
Recovery of an abdominoplasty
After an abdominoplasty a patient can expect to feel some pain and discomfort for several days after surgery, which can be managed with pain medications. Resting with the legs and hips bent may reduce pressure on the abdomen during the recommended 1 - 3 day hospital stay.
An elastic support similar to a girdle, worn for 2 - 3 weeks, provides extra abdominal support while healing. Strenuous activity and straining should be avoided for 4 weeks after the abdominoplasty.
The scars will become lighter in color and flatter during 3 - 6 months after the abdominoplasty.
Complications of an abdominoplasty
Thousands of abdominoplasties are performed successfully each year and the results are generally quite positive. Nevertheless, there are always risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this specific abdominoplasty procedure.
Post-operative complications such as infection and blood clots are rare, but can occur. Infection can be treated with drainage and antibiotics, but will prolong your hospital stay. You can minimize the risk of blood clots by moving around as soon after the abdominoplasty surgery as possible.
Poor healing after abdominoplasty, which results in conspicuous scars, may necessitate a second operation. Smokers should be advised to stop, as smoking may increase the risk of complications and delay healing. You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following your surgeon's instructions before and after the abdominoplasty surgery, especially with regard to when and how you should resume physical activity.