While anyone who wants to get a more trim-looking silhouette may consider a tummy tuck, the procedure-also known as an abdominoplasty-is particularly suited for patients who have lost a considerable amount of weight. When a person begins to accumulate fat in the abdominal region, the surrounding skin stretches to accommodate the extra tissue and larger fat cells.
As that excess goes away-whether through diet and exercise, liposuction, or some sort of bariatric procedure-a person’s skin will ideally shrink back into place to closely conform to tissue underneath. But that doesn’t always happen. Think of it like a sweater than has been stretched out by a large belly, but is now covering a firmer stomach. No matter how flat the belly is, its contours are lost behind what amounts to a loose, baggy curtain.
A tummy tuck addresses that problem by eliminating the sagging folds that hide the true underlying form.
How a Tummy Tuck Works
A qualified plastic surgeon will walk every tummy tuck patient through the procedure before any surgery begins to ensure that there are no surprises. In general, the tummy tuck will involve sedation of some sort, as does any surgery of this scale. There are variations on how whichever anesthetics are used can be administered, but the patient will always be unconscious when it comes time for the abdominoplasty.
The tummy tuck surgery itself involves the doctor making a cut very low on a patient’s abdomen, typically below where the elastic line on a pair of underwear would sit. This long, horizontal slit will allow the doctor access to the tissue throughout the area. If there’s any fat to be removed, the doctor will insert a cannula to perform liposuction.
In some cases, the patient’s abdominal wall has become loose, leading to sagging muscles and their connective tissue. Since this condition also adds to the look of a flabby midsection, the doctor may tighten the muscles to firm them up as part of a full tummy tuck.
Once the internal work is done, the doctor will pull the overlying skin tight to eliminate any pouchy areas that once bulged due to fat underneath. Excess skin will be removed at this point in the tummy tuck, and the remaining skin will be sutured into place to hold it flat and allow for healing to begin.
It will likely be necessary for the doctor to make an incision in this new, flat skin to allow for a belly-button to appear instead of being hidden.
Post-Tummy Tuck Recuperation
A tummy tuck typically leaves patients feeling sore and tender for weeks. Physical activity should be limited during this recovery period to give the incision site and internal changes time to heal properly and allow for the effects of the
abdominoplasty to take hold.
This does not mean that you have to lie down motionless, however. Some walking motion will be encouraged to help with circulation and drainage issues shortly after a tummy tuck, but in general, anything strenuous or potentially physically taxing should be avoided so as not to tear any sutures or develop internal complications.
Hygiene is op particular importance, as it will be important to keep the sutured area properly clean so as to avoid infection after a tummy tuck.
Any abdominoplasty patients who are concerned about how their recovery process is unfolding or feel that a health issue is developing should contact their doctor and discuss their worries. Routine follow-up appointments should ensure that everything is proceeding as expected after a tummy tuck, but any unique concerns should be addressed immediately as they arise.
Learn More About a Tummy Tuck
Plastic surgeons well-versed in abdominoplasty procedures can provide more details about what the surgery involves and what people who choose a tummy tuck can expect. G+