Are you thinking of a tummy tuck?
Abdominoplasty is usually referred to as tummy tuck, is a surgery that involves the removal of excessive skin and fat from the stomach and the strengthening of the stomach muscle. The surgery can reduce the volume of the stomach that is hanging down and protruding. It is however important to keep in mind that the surgery leaves a scar behind that reaches from the one hip bone to the other. The information on this page can provide you with some basic understanding of the surgery if you are considering a tummy tuck; when it can be of help, how it takes place and what results to expect. However, you will probably not find answers to all your questions whereas there are many individual factors that need to be taken into account regarding surgeries. Do not forger or hesitate to ask your doctor if you feel like you need further information.
Are you the right candidate for a tummy tuck?
Tummy tuck is especially suitable for those women and men who are relatively fit but worried about too much fat accumulation on the stomach, or loose, hanging skin that improved diet and exercise cannot change. The surgery has been especially helpful for women who have gone through many pregnancies and experienced multiple stretching of the skin, so that it never becomes the same again. Also, the skin of middle aged and older people has often lost its elasticity and causes the skin on the stomach to hang down.
People who plan to lose a considerable amount of weight should postpone surgery until they achieved their goal. The same applies for women who plan to have more children as pregnancy can put too much stress on muscles that have been stretched. Keep in mind that a tummy tuck can improve your appearance and confidence but it does not totally change the way you look or feel about yourself. Nor is it likely that people will treat you differently. Before you make up your mind, you need to discuss your expectations with your doctor.
Numerous tummy tuck surgeries are performed every year with good results. When a professional plastic surgeon, with good experience of such procedures, performs the surgery one can expect a good result. Still, it is important for the patient to be aware of the main risk factors involved.
Problems after surgeries, for example infections or bleeding, are rare but they do happen occasionally. Infections can be treated with antibiotics. The patient can also reduce the risk factors by moving about as soon as possible after the surgery as possible. It is also very important to follow the instructions of the surgeon, both before and after the surgery, particularly in regards to modest exercise after surgery.
To decide a surgery
During the first visit to the doctor your health condition is examined. The doctor evaluates how much excessive fat has accumulated on the stomach area and examines the structure of the skin. Inform the doctor if you smoke and which medicine you take on a regular basis (if any) or nutrients, including all medicine with blood thinning effects. Discuss all your expectations with the doctor. Expect him to be open and sincere with you regarding the benefits and the risks of the surgery.
If for example the fat accumulation is mostly below the belly button you might need a smaller surgery, called mini tummy tuck. Or it might be a better idea to have a smaller surgery (or the classic one) along liposuction on the hips and thighs to gain a better formed figure. Sometimes the liposuction is enough by itself. In some cases a surgery around the whole body, (torso surgery) is a better option, depending on the distribution of the excessive fat. During your first visit your doctor will explain what anesthetic method will be used. Whatever the choice, the doctor will discusses all the alternatives and helps you to find the right solution for you. Top of page
Preparation for surgery
The doctor advises you on how to prepare for the surgery, regarding food and drink, smoking and the do´s and don't´s regarding medicine. It usually applies to fast from midnight the day before the surgery. Fastening means absolutely no intake of any kind, no drink, food or medicine. If you smoke, it is important to stop smoking at least four weeks before surgery. Avoid too much sun before the surgery, especially on the stomach, whereas it can affect your healing prospects. The surgery needs to be postponed if you catch a cold or any kind of infection. Make sure that somebody picks you up at the clinic after the surgery and assists you for one to two days after. Do not forget to take a medical girdle with you to the clinic. Top of page
Operating room, anaesthetic and the operation
The surgery is performed at a hospital or a health clinic and the patient is expected to stay there for one night. Before the operation you will have a intravenous sedative and then you are anaesthetised.
A tummy tuck surgery takes about two - three to five hours depending on how extensive it is. Usually, the doctor makes one long incision from one hip bone to the other, just above the pubic bone. Then another incision is made to lose the navel from the skin around it. Next, the doctor loosens the skin on the stomach to reach the stomach muscles to stretch them and stitch them up again. This strengthens the stomach and reduces the waistline. Then the skin is pulled down and excessive skin is removed. The navel is replaced on a new location. Finally, the incisions are stitched up, bandages are put on and two drain tubes are placed in the incision to release excess fluid from the operation area. Before going home you put on the girdle and use it for the next two to three weeks to support the stomach. After that you should us support pants for about six weeks. Top of page
After the surgery
In the first days after the operation your stomach will be swollen and you will find some pain and discomfort that can be controlled with painkillers. The doctor will advise you on how you change bandages and when you are safe to have a shower. Even though you can´t probably stretch out completely in the beginning you should try to get on your feet and walk around as soon as possible. Stitches do not need to be removed as they disintegrate in time but the doctor would like to see you about 7-10 days after the operation to remove the drain tubes and evaluate the recovery. It is recommended to use special healing salve on the scars for about two to three months after the operation, but the doctor will give you names of good brands for salves. Top of page
It can take a few weeks, even months, before you reach full recovery. You will heal quicker if your physical condition was good before the surgery and your stomach muscles were strong. Some people return to work in two weeks but others need three to four weeks to rest and gain strength. Physical exercise and workout can help you to recover. Even people who have never worked out should start to reduce swelling and strengthen the muscles. Still you should avoid strenuous exercise until you feel that you are ready and remember not to carry anything heavy for about six weeks.
The scar might start to look worse for the first three to six months while it is healing, but that is natural. You should expect that it takes up to nine months for the scar to become more even and lighten up. It will never fully disappear but cannot be seen when you are wearing bathing suits or bikini. Top of page
The new look
A tummy tuck can cause an incredible change for people with lose stomach muscles and ski. In most cases the result is visible for years, especially if you watch your diet and exercise regularly. If you have realistic ideas about the result of the operation, and if you can cope with the idea of a scar on your body for the rest of your life and are ready to give the body the time it needs to heal then a body lift could be just right for you.