Whether you have recently experienced weight changes, given birth, or simply developed a beer belly or “spare tire” over time, the contour of the abdominal area can be corrected with a tummy tuck. Harrisburg, PA, body and breast focused plastic surgeon Dr. John P. Stratis – one of the cofounders of the comprehensive cosmetic surgical practice at Stratis Gayner Plastic Surgery – explains how a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is performed and the procedural options that are available to you.
A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure in which excess fat and skin are removed and the underlying muscles tightened to improve the look of the abdomen. While the operation can achieve dramatic results, it requires skilled and experienced hands to be safe and effective.
According to the latest statistics collected by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the number of tummy tuck operations performed by member surgeons each year in the United States has increased by 104 percent since 2000. Individuals of all genders can receive tummy tucks. New mothers often have the procedure performed as part of a mommy makeover, while men often develop noticeable bellies as they age due to weakening and permanently stretched out muscles and skin tissue.
There are several types of tummy tuck surgery available to patients. Your surgeon will help you decide which procedure is most appropriate for you depending on your unique abdominal profile and the type and extent of results you are looking to achieve.
A traditional or standard tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia and is performed on an outpatient basis. One or two incisions are made during surgery. One is made in the lower abdomen below the line of most kinds of underwear and swimsuits just above the pubic bone. A second may be made around the navel or belly button to allow the surgeon address the upper abdomen. Excess skin and fat will be removed, and the lower and upper abdominal muscles will be tightened. A new hole will be made in the repositioned tissue to allow the belly button to show through.
For some patients who have experienced extensive weight loss—whether with the assistance of bariatric surgery or otherwise—a fleur-de-lis tummy tuck may be ideal. In order to be effective long-term the patient must be committed to the healthy eating and exercise habits that enabled the weight loss.
A fleur-de-lis tummy tuck involves two incisions. While the first is made in the lower abdomen, the second is created vertically down the midsection to more comprehensively address the lax abdominal tissue. The length of this second incision depends on the amount of abdominal correction required, but it typically will not extend above the breastbone. The belly button may also be positioned at a level that looks more proportionate and aesthetically pleasing. Once the tummy tuck is complete, the surgeon will close the incisions with dissolvable sutures to heal properly. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis.
Your surgeon may recommend a mini tummy tuck if the cosmetic correction desired is minor. While a mini tummy tuck is less extensive than a traditional one, many patients find that the procedure gives them the results they were looking for with less recovery time required. A mini tummy tuck addresses only the lower abdomen, removing excess skin below the navel and repairing the muscles there. Some surgeons also perform liposuction along with the mini tummy tuck to better contour the remaining tissue
After any sort of tummy tuck is performed patients usually notice an immediate difference. Bruising and swelling in the operated areas are common and resolve in the weeks after. A special garment may be worn after surgery to keep these side effects to a minimum and allow the incisions the freedom to heal. A drain may also be used to reduce any buildup of blood and other fluid.
Some surgeons employ a long-acting local anesthetic, Exparel, during the procedure for sustained post-operative pain relief. They may also prescribe patients pain relief medications for their comfort during the recovery period and allow patients to do whatever they feel comfortable doing after the procedure. This “self-limiting” leads to a faster recovery. It typically takes about six weeks after a tummy tuck for patients to be able to safely and comfortably return to all their normal activity, but most patients can drive and return to work after a week.
Dr. Stratis is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and specializes in performing tummy tuck procedures. To learn more about the surgery and which method may be most suitable for you, request a consultation with him online or call the practice at (717) 728-1700.