Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
The tummy tuck is cosmetic surgery designed to remove excess skin from the abdomen and, at the same time, tighten the abdominal muscles. It is indicated for patients with lax abdominal skin that results in bulging due to abnormal stretching of the muscles and skin. This occurs frequently following pregnancy or significant weight loss.
Unlike liposuction surgery, which just removes fat, this operation involves removal of skin and fat, with tightening of the abdominal muscles. For this reason, it is more extensive than liposuction. The actual extent of surgery will depend on the amount of excess skin and the laxity of the abdominal muscles.
Dr. Rochlin usually combines an abdominoplasty with liposuction to provide the patient with the best aesthetic results.
What happens before and during tummy tuck surgery?
Prior to tummy tuck surgery, the amount of skin that is to be removed is carefully marked. The operation is carried out under general anesthesia. An incision is made in the bikini line and the excess skin is pulled down and inward, and is removed along with underlying fatty tissue. The muscles are tightened as required, the skin is carefully re-draped and the incision closed with several layers of dissolvable suture.
The belly button will have an incision around it in a circular fashion because of the amount of skin removed. It is not true that the belly button is removed during the operation. You keep your existing belly button, however, it may look different because the surrounding skin is now tighter after the tummy tuck.
Tummy tuck recovery
Following tummy tuck surgery; a compressive girdle and stockings are worn for 6-8 weeks. There may be considerable discomfort for several days following surgery but most patients resume limited activity in a day or so. Wound drains are kept in place for approximately one week to help prevent the accumulation of fluid.
Risks of tummy tuck surgery
Because of the risk of possible blood clots deep in the legs that can spread to the lungs or partial lung collapse, it is important for patients to begin movement promptly after surgery even if it is uncomfortable.
Because of the extent of the surgery, there are risks involved that can result in serious complications. Infection or collections of blood or fluid in the wound may delay recovery and could result in skin loss, fat necrosis or scarring. These could lead to the need for additional corrective surgery.
The abdominal wall is stretched during surgery and the blood supply to the skin may be compromised or damaged. This may lead to loss of skin. If this happens a skin graft may be needed if the wound does not heal. Wound problems are much more likely with patients who smoke. Therefore, we require patients who use tobacco products to completely quit for a minimum of four-to-six weeks before and after tummy tuck surgery.
About tummy tuck scars
Patients must realize that there is a sizable scar, which, although hidden, may thicken or widen requiring later revision. It is also important to realize that it will take many months for the scar to fade to its final appearance. Unfortunately, because of the pull involved with the operation, it is not uncommon for scars to be somewhat widened or irregular. A small percentage of our patients will return after about one year for scar revision.
In spite of these considerations, the operation is generally very gratifying. Many patients realize relief of functional symptoms such as low back pain, rash and abdominal discomfort following the cosmetic surgery.
Recovering following abdominoplasty surgery
Expected recovery is between one to two weeks. It is important to begin walking the day after surgery to prevent blood clots from forming in the deep veins of the leg. You can resume light exercise after two weeks and more vigorous exercise after six weeks.
Some bruising is normal after surgery. This usually goes away in the first few weeks. Your incisions will be noticeable immediately following surgery but they will gradually fade and flatten for up to a year after surgery. You will also have some puckering around the incision after surgery. This will smooth out over a month or two.
In your initial consultation, Dr. Rochlin will evaluate your health, determine where your fat deposits lie, and carefully assess your skin tone. She will fashion a treatment plan best suits your needs. If you are a smoker, you will need to quit for a minimum of 4-6 weeks before surgery to minimize the risk of complications. Smokers are much more prone to delayed healing and wound breakdown.