An abdominoplasty, or sometimes referred to as a tummy tuck, is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures available. A tummy tuck is capable of removing excess fat and skin and may also tighten the abdominal muscles to create a tight, smooth, better contoured waistline. In most cases it can also restore separated or weakened muscles. A good candidate for a tummy tuck will have excess or loose skin due to pregnancy, weight loss, or loss of skin elasticity from aging or stretch marks. The surgery is often combined with liposuction to the love handle areas to provide a better contour to the entire waistline. Also, it is commonly performed along with a breast augmentation procedure and liposuction. This set of procedures is often referred to as the “Mommy Makeover.” Your decision to have an abdominoplasty performed is extremely personal and you will have to decide if the benefits of surgery will achieve your goals and if the potential complications and risks are acceptable.
Your plastic surgeon along with his or her staff will explain all of the possible risks. The possible risks for a tummy tuck include many things. Some of these things are bleeding, unfavorable scarring, infection, asymmetry, skin discoloration, persistent swelling in the legs, and pain that may or may not persist. After being informed, you will likely be asked to sign a form stating that you understand the risks associated with the procedure. You will need help if your tummy tuck is performed on an outpatient basis. If so, you will need to have someone drive you to and from the surgery center and to stay with you for at least the first night following the procedure.
The process of a tummy tuck is rather simple, but the plastic surgeon must make sure to properly perform each step. The first part of a tummy tuck surgery is the administration of anesthesia. Medications will be administered so that you may be comfortable during the surgery. The choices will likely include general anesthesia and intravenous sedation. You should have some help deciding with advice from your anesthesiologist.
The next step that the plastic surgeon must take is to create a proper incision. A full tummy tuck will require a horizontally-oriented incision within the area between the navel and the pubic hairline. The length and shape of this incision will be determined by the degree of correction that is necessary. Through this created incision, weakened abdominal muscles will be repaired and sutured. Excess tissue, skin, and fat will also be removed. The last step that your plastic surgeon will take is closing up this incision.
The last step in the procedure itself will be done by you with the help of your surgeon. This step, sometimes thought of as the most important, is the process of recovery. Following your procedure, bandages or dressings will be applied to your incisions. You will also likely be wrapped in an elastic bandage or compression garment to keep swelling minimized and also to support your healing abdomen. A thin, small drain tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess fluid or blood that may collect. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with guidelines and instructions on how to care for the surgical sire and drains. He or she may also prescribe you with medication.