A flat and well-toned abdomen is desired by almost everyone. For this very reason, people frequently deploy the tools of diet and exercise. However, at times diet and exercise may not be sufficient enough and may not be able to address your particular issues.
In fact, even those individuals who otherwise possess a normal body weight and proportion may also suffer from sagging skin and a flabby belly. Various factors can be responsible for bringing on this condition such as aging, pregnancy, sudden weight changes, an individual’s particular family history etc. In such circumstances, diet and exercise may not be that effective and this is where tummy tucks come in. According to the statistics given by the American Society of Plastic Surgeon, the number of tummy tuck procedures carried out between the years 2000 to 2014, escalated to an impressive 87%. In order to figure out the reason behind this rampant popularity, let us first understand what a tummy tuck basically is and what does it include.
What is a tummy tuck?
Tummy tuck surgery also popularly termed as “abdominoplasty,” is a form of cosmetic surgery. It removes excess fat and skin along with restoring the abdominal muscles to create a firmer and much better toned abdomen. It is important to know however that liposuction and abdominoplasty are distinct processes, yet both of these surgeries can be carried out together.
The patient should also understand that a tummy tuck is not the replacement for a balanced diet or an exercise routine. Moreover, it isn’t a treatment for stretch marks as well. The only stretch marks that can be removed from this process are those that may be located in the areas from where the excessive skin would be removed
Also, this surgical procedure is certainly not an alternative for weight loss. Rather it ought to be performed when the patient has tried other options to restore the shape of his/her body and abdomen but has failed.
In any case, the surgeon will pay heed to the patient’s individual needs and desires and customize the procedure according to these particular considerations.
Who is an ideal candidate for a tummy tuck surgery?
The ideal patients for this surgical procedure are:
- a healthy man or woman with excessive skin in the abdominal region which fails to respond to either diet or exercise;
- a woman whose body shape has been affected by pregnancy or massive weight loss;
- patients who think that their protruding abdomen is unattractive;
- Patients whose self-confidence is spoiled by the disproportioned contours of their stomach.
- This surgery is also an option for those patients who had been obese once and now even after a significant weight loss, they still have packets of fat which refuse to respond to diet and exercise.
Tummy tuck is the best way to achieve a firmer, more youthful figure. Most patients report boosted levels of self-esteem as a result of this procedure. This plastic surgery may be performed when the patient has achieved his/her ideal weight or in the case of women, when they have no plans of becoming pregnant again and their motherhood desires have been satiated.
What are the advantages of a tummy tuck?
- The patient will end up with a flat and well-toned abdominal region.
- The patient’s body contour will be improved and will cater to the cosmetic demands of outfits such as swimwear.
- A more youthful appearance will be restored.
Most patients embark upon this procedure because of its cosmetic changes and benefits, but during this procedure also claims certain other medical benefits to its name such as:
- Reduction of stress urinary incontinence: Several studies have indicated that a tummy tuck can help the patient in recovering from this particular condition since this procedure leads to the creation of a controlled bladder obstruction which consequently reduces incontinence.
- Improved abdominal tone and better posture: a tummy tuck performs multiple functions at the same time. The patient’s weakened muscles are reinforced. His/her excessive skin and fat is removed which ultimately results in the enhancement of abdominal contours. Moreover, weakened abdominal muscles can end up in spine ailments. After an abdominoplasty, patients may notice that their posture has improved because their reinforced muscles now provide extra support their spine.
- Ventral hernia correction: A ventral hernia protrudes through the intestine through owing to a defect of the abdominal wall. There are various causes that can be held responsible for this condition since any weakness in the abdominal wall implies a ventral hernia .The most common causes are prior surgeries in the abdomen or massive weight loss. Weakened abdominal muscles are treated in this surgical procedure. The benefits of adding an abdominoplasty procedure to the treatment of hernia are the strengthening of abdominal wall and consequent prevention of such future occurrences. When these procedures are combined, the patient only has to undergo a single surgery instead of being subjected to two distinct ones. This means that the patient’s medical expenses and anesthesia exposure would also be reduced.
What are the disadvantages of a tummy tuck?
- The patients will always be left behind with incision scars although the extent of visibility of these scars may vary.
- Another pregnancy can reverse the results of the surgery. In order to avoid this, it is recommended that the patient only embarks upon this surgical procedure once she is sure that she wouldn’t be having any children again.
- Sudden and severe weight changes may also affect the surgical results negatively.
How much does a tummy tuck cost?
Various factors determine the cost of this plastic surgery such as the patient's desires and needs, the method that will be used, the surgeon’s experience and qualification, the type of anesthesia that is deployed, costs for the surgical facility etc.
The average cost of an abdominoplasty as given by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is $5,493 (but may range from $3,000 to $12,000).
What should the patient do before a tummy tuck surgery?
The patient should set up a consultation with his/ her surgeon in which his/her surgical goals are openly conveyed to the doctor. Moreover, the doctor should also be informed of any possible medical conditions, allergies, current medications, and prior surgeries.
After this, the surgeon will make an evaluation of the patient’s general health and abdominal contours, give due consideration to any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors, discuss different options, and come up with an individual surgical plan for each patient.
The patient should get lab testing done, take certain medications or adjust their current medications, stop smoking, and stop taking certain medications more than 2 weeks prior to the surgery, as these can increase the risk factors associated with surgery.
What is the general procedure of a tummy tuck surgery?
Depending on the desired results, this procedure may last somewhere between 1 to 5 hours. Moreover, according to the size of the treated area, the surgery be carried out an outpatient procedure or the contrary.
- The patient can either be given a local or general anesthesia. The doctor decides which one would work the best for a particular patient depending upon his/her individual preferences and condition.
- During the surgical procedure, the plastic surgeon will remove all excessive skin.
- Also, the abdominal muscles would be strengthened with the use of sutures.
- The plastic surgeon may also mark the abdomen since these markings would help him/her in placing the incisions. It also allows the surgeon to have an idea of the excessive skin that ought to be removed and plausible location for the navel.
- Before embarking upon the surgery, the surgeon maps out a surgical plan keeping in view the patient’s desires and requirements. This very plan is followed during the surgery.
- There are various abdominoplasty techniques and the surgeon would choose once which caters to the patient’s preferences and surgical goals.
- The type of incision to be performed will be determined by the amount of tissue that needs to be removed.
- Once the excessive skin has been cut, the plastic surgeon can then repair the abdominal muscles
Types of Abdominoplasty/ Tummy Tucks
The most common techniques are:
- Traditional tummy tuck surgery:
This surgical technique is the most common one. During this procedure, a horizontal incision is made over the abdomen which ranges from the navel to the pubic hairline. Once this main incision has been made, several other incisions are placed around the navel in order to remove greater amount of excessive skin and tissue. In this type of surgery, the location of navel is also changed.
- Mini tummy tuck (or partial abdominoplasty):
In this type of surgery, only one incision is made in the pubic area which is smaller than the one made in the former method. Under this method, removal of excessive skin takes place as well as the repair of weakened muscles. Liposuction may also be used for the removal of fat deposits in the particular area. The location of navel is not changed in this procedure.
Generally, this procedure is used for patients who have an ideal body weight but still want to enhance and improve their body contours.
- Partial Abdominoplasty
A partial abdominoplasty is an option for those patients who seek discreet results. Under this kind of procedure, the patient can recover faster than he would if subjected to a traditional tummy tuck. This duration for this procedure is approximately 2 hours or even less.
- Extended tummy tuck, or “high lateral tension abdominoplasty”
This method is used to remove the excessive skin in love handles or hips. In this case, a larger incision is necessary. During this procedure, a tummy tuck is performed extensively including the lateral sides of the abdomen as well as its frontal side. Thus, this technique improves the shape and contours of lower abdomen, hips, and even the thighs simultaneously.
The plastic surgeon takes care while making incisions so as to make sure that the patient’s scars are well-concealed even in low- cut clothing and swim wear. This method is recommended for patients who desire a more dramatic change than the one offered by a traditional abdominoplasty.
- Circumferential tummy tuck:
This surgical technique is ideal for patients who have got rid of a great amount of weight in a comparatively short amount of time. This sudden weight loss results is loss of skin elasticity. This condition is very common in patients who have had a bypass surgery. Excessive skin is a triggering cause for lots of problems, both medical and cosmetic. For instance, not only does excessive, saggy skin look bad but it also folds up and thus serve as a perfect substrate for the development pf fungus.
- Endoscopic tummy tuck:
This technique is generally deployed for patients who have weak abdominal muscles, but only a small amount of fat and excessive skin. In this case, the incision is very small because through this incision. Through this incision, the surgeon inserts a small camera and other tools which function to separate rectus and diastasis i.e. separate abdominal muscles).
What is the postoperative care?
After surgery, post-operative care instructions should be given to the patient and their care giver. The patient should arrange to have someone care for him/her during the healing process or for at least 2 days after the surgery.
Generally, abdominoplasty is an out-patient procedure. However, depending upon the extent of your surgery, the doctor may decide otherwise. Yet, even if you are sent home, you need to take complete bed rest for the first few days following the surgery.
Some dressing and elastic compression garments should be used for several weeks, especially over the incision. These compression garment help to speed up the healing process, reduce swelling and provide support to the areas that have been surgically operated.
In some cases, the plastic surgeon may place tubes or drains in the incision. This helps to drain out the surgical fluid which as a consequence speeds up the healing process. These tubes or drains are removed after a couple of weeks.
Approximate healing time is for 6 months. However, the patient should be able to resume their normal activities after 2 or 3 weeks; yet strenuous activities have to be avoided indeed.
After the surgery, the most common side effects that the patient comes across are bruising, swelling and some redness in the operated area, but these symptoms usually disappear with the passage of time. Having said this, you have to remember that surgical procedures are never free from risks and therefore, we cannot guarantee/ promise anything regarding these surgical risks.
Tummy Tuck Houston
Dr. Amjadi MD, DDS, FACS
Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons
915 Gessner Rd #870
Houston, TX 77024