A tummy tuck (also known as an abdominoplasty) is an operation to remove excess skin and fat from the belly. Sometimes, because of previous pregnancies or a history of weight gain, the stomach muscles have become separated (known as a rectus diastasis) and will need to be sutured back together to achieve the desired contour. A limited amount of liposuction can also be performed to further improve the contour. In some patients a “mini” tummy tuck can be performed instead. A full tummy tuck results in a scar that extends from hip to hip and a scar around the belly button. A “mini” tummy tuck results in a shorter scar along the lower abdomen and no scar around the belly button. Dr. La Via will help you explore which operation will be best for you base on your anatomy and aesthetic goals.
The operation is an outpatient procedure but requires a 1-2 night stay in an aftercare facility if the muscles have been tightened. You will not be allowed to stand up straight for 2 weeks to avoid undue strain on the tightened skin.
A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program.
Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies may be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.
Also, a tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised, generally those treated areas below the belly button.
Is it right for me?
Tummy tuck surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image.
Abdominoplasty is a good option for you if:
- You are physically healthy and at a stable weight
- You have realistic expectations
- You are a non-smoker
- You are bothered by the feeling that your tummy is too large
Your tummy tuck will result in a flatter, firmer abdominal contour that is more proportionate with your body type and weight.
The final results may be initially obscured by swelling and your inability to stand fully upright until internal healing is complete.
Within a week or two, you should be standing tall and confident about your new slimmer profile.
The decision to have tummy tuck surgery is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable.
Dr. La Via and/or her staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
Possible risks of abdominoplasty include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Fluid accumulation
- Poor wound healing
- Skin loss
- Blood clots
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Anesthesia risks
- Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Major wound separation
- Recurrent looseness of skin
- Pain, which may persist
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Persistent swelling in the legs
- Nerve damage
- Possibility of revisional surgery
- Suboptimal aesthetic result
Following your surgery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling and to support your abdomen as it heals.
Drains are used and stay in until the amount has decreased sufficiently, usually 1-2 weeks. The drains are then removed in the office.
You will be given specific instructions that may include: How to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow-up with your plastic surgeon.
Previous abdominal surgery may limit the potential results of a tummy tuck. In women who have undergone cesarean section, the existing scars may often be incorporated into the new scar.