Considering a Tummy Tuck? Harrisburg, PA, Surgeon Dr. John Stratis Outlines Your Options

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.

Tummy Tuck Details

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+

Tummy Tuck

Weight loss by means of dieting and regular physical activity tends to reduce the fat around a person’s midsection, but even people who most faithfully stick to their diets and exercise regimens may find themselves considering a tummy tuck, more formally known as an abdominoplasty. Why? Despite a weight-loss candidate’s best efforts, loose skin and some fat may remain, preserving a flabby, overweight look that only a plastic surgeon can eliminate.

A patient who desires a tummy tuck will find that a licensed plastic surgeon is the best option, since such a professional will bring a mix of professionalism and artistry to the procedure, making the surgery an aesthetic success.

What Does Tummy Tuck Address?

A tummy tuck is intended for basically one goal: a flatter stomach. The procedure is frequently chosen by people who have seen their abdomen size fluctuate dramatically, either due to a change in weight or a pregnancy. A tummy tuck can:

  • eliminate loose, excess skin that protrudes or sags from the abdomen
  • tighten abdominal muscles that have weakened
  • remove some fatty tissue still present despite weight loss via natural methods or liposuction
  • eliminate stretch marks and scars present on the skin to be removed

What Does a Tummy Tuck Involve?

There is not much variation in tummy tuck procedures, as all of them generally involve a plastic surgeon removing excess tissue and pulling the remaining skin tight. Still, any given patient’s unique anatomy may lead the doctor to tailor the surgery for the best results possible.

On the whole, patients can expect a tummy tuck to potentially include:

1) intravenous or general anesthesia, depending on the doctor’s recommendation based on a patient’s health and the scope of the abdominoplasty.

2) an incision that runs from side to side, situated somewhere between a patient’s navel and pubic area. The best doctors will work to hide any scarring in the underwear or bikini line. The procedure may also require another, circular incision around the belly button to preserve that feature.

3) removal of remaining excess fat via liposuction.

4) surgical tightening of tissues over the patient’s abdominal muscles.

5) the plastic surgeon essentially tugging the abdominal skin downward, toward the patient’s feet, to flatten the whole belly area.

4) trimming away the now-redundant skin that hangs below the incision line, as well as making a hole where the belly button sits so it can peek through.

5) closing up any incisions with sutures.

tummy image

abdominoplasty

What Comes After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

A tummy tuck is, of course, a surgical procedure and requires a recovery period. Patients will likely have to maintain surgical dressing for their incision sites immediately after their abdominoplasty.

Also immediately after surgery, the tummy tuck patient will be encouraged to get up and walk as soon as possible. When lying down, recovering patients should keep their upper body in a raised position.

To prevent fluid buildup, the doctor will likely install drainage tubes. Patients will also wear something known as an abdominal binder for a month and a half after the abdominoplasty surgery.

Most importantly, follow-up visits throughout the year after the abdominoplasty will allow the doctor to make sure that everything is healing the way it should.

What Complements a Tummy Tuck?

As noted above, a tummy tuck is not a weight loss procedure, but it pairs well with liposuction for patients looking to change their physical appearance.

A tummy tuck is also frequently combined with other procedures as what is known as a “Mommy Makeover,” which combines a variety of surgical treatments—usually including liposuction and a breast lift—to reverse the physical aftereffects of pregnancy.

Making the Choice for a Tummy Tuck

An abdominoplasty is ideal for patients who want to get a toned, fit look. It is important, however, that people considering this procedure explain to their plastic surgeon exactly what aesthetic goals they’re hoping to achieve so together they can choose the best option to meet those goals.