What is a Tummy Tuck?
Tummy tuck as the name suggests involves removal of excess skin and fat from the abdomen. This is a cosmetic surgery procedure also known as “Abdominoplasty“. This procedure helps improve the appearance of the stomach (abdomen).
There could be multiple reasons for undergoing abdominoplasty surgery such as weight loss, removal of unwanted excess skin and damaged abdomen muscles. One common reason that all those who undergo this surgery is the desire for flat and slender stomach (for both men and women).
People usually undergo this surgery in the following circumstances –
- Pregnant (post pregnancy causes loose or sagging tissues near lower abdomen region)
- Or overweight (excess of fat stored on and near abdomen area).
What a tummy tuck won’t do?
In most cases, when alternatives such as exercise, weight control or diet don’t work, people go for tummy tuck surgery as the last option.
People tend to believe in certain myths related to tummy tuck surgery, such as –
- Tummy tucks help in weight loss
- Tummy tucks are the same as liposuction (liposuction is also a cosmetic surgery procedure that removes excess fat but doesn’t deal with excess skin)
Note- A tummy tuck cannot suddenly spark the metabolism and help anyone shed off extra weight. People who have undergone surgery will have to stick to their healthy diet and exercise routine that they were using before the surgery.
Tummy Tuck CandidatesPatients with loose abdominal skin and an excess of fat (in the abdomen region) are the best suitable candidates for abdominoplasty. However, there are certain critical factors that must be considered before undergoing this cosmetic surgery. They are-
- Those with the generalized obesity are not good for a tummy tuck procedure whereas people with skinny bodies with an extra amount of fat in lower abdomen are considered as well suitable candidates.
- The patient should have a history of good health because a significant amount of skin is required to undergo abdominoplasty procedure. To put it in simple words, a candidate must be in good physical shape to tolerate this procedure.
- In case, if a woman wants to get rid of loose abdominal skin (due to past pregnancy) and is also planning to have more children in future then going for the abdominoplasty surgery is not a wise choice. Future pregnancies will separate repaired abdomen muscles and re-stretch skin in that area.
Tummy Tuck Recovery
All cosmetic surgery have their post-surgery symptoms. Any individual will take his/her own time to get along with new body structure. Generally, experts (plastic surgeons) have divided recovery process in different stages. These stages are inclusive of the 6-week recovery process. During this time period, the patient is required to visit his/her surgeon for incision examining, checking drains and most importantly to check how well you are doing.
Many activities will be difficult for the patient after the recovery phase like getting up and down from a sitting position, getting in and out of the bed. The patient must not smoke or use nicotine patches during this phase as these would interfere healing.
Patients are usually advised by their respective doctors to wear a binder (support garments) around their abdomen. These binders help ease certain activities such as going to the bathroom, remain in a standing posture for elevated time etc.
Tummy Tuck Results
Abdominoplasty is a kind of surgical procedure that takes times to recover from. It is not necessary that the patient will feel great right away, though he/she will feel significantly different. Common results or differences felt and seen are-
- Excess abdominal skin and sagging tissues will be gone,
- The patient will feel initial swelling from tummy tuck procedure (it won’t last very long, only a few months),
- Patients may have trouble buttoning their pants (as this activity stretches abdomen and pulls it down).
Depending on the severity or complexity of the procedure, the final results of surgery can be seen after 6 months (average time) or 1 year (usually the maximum time).
Tummy Tuck ScarringDuring the abdominoplasty surgery, the extra skin (from the lower abdomen) has to be excised and removed. When this extra skin is removed, the opening (the tightened skin) is sutured (i.e. re-attaching groin tissues). These sutures will leave some kind of scar.
Scarring in cosmetic surgeries is almost inevitable. Still, plastic surgeons during abdominoplasty procedure take precaution to make their incision as low as possible to minimize the visibility of scars.
There are certain precautions that can be taken to reduce visibility of scars-
- Quit smoking during the recovery phase (as it interferes healing process).
- Applying petroleum jelly over the suture (it is expected to reduce the final scar appearance by 33 %)
- Application of medical grade silicone cream will help in reducing the appearance of the scar.
Tummy Tuck Procedure
One may either opt for complete abdominoplasty or partial abdominoplasty. The steps involved for both vary and are discussed below
For complete abdominoplasty,
- General anesthesia is administered to the patient.
- A hip to hip cut is made just above the pubic area of the patient
- Following it, one more cut is marked to separate the navel from the surrounding skin.
- At this point, the excess skin is removed from the abdomen wall to make the muscles tighter. The muscles are made tighter by stitching it together.
- Any excess fluid is drained towards the end.
For Partial abdominoplasty,
- For this, a smaller is cut is developed.
- Excess skin of the lower abdomen is then detached from muscles in a limited fashion. The skin is then pulled down and then the excess skin is trimmed and excess skin is sutured back together.
- In some cases, navel is detached from the muscle and it’s slid down on the abdominal wall.
- Now, at this point, the hanging flap is stitched back into place.
Risks and Safety involved in Tummy Tuck
A Tummy Tuck is a self-elective decision which is opted by a patient only when he/she is well aware of the involved risks and the upcoming complications are acceptable by him/her.
On conception of a Tummy Tuck procedure, the patient is made to sign a consent form to ensure that he understands the procedure and outcome well.
The complications and risks involved with Tummy Tuck are immense. The first and foremost risk may be of anesthesia, there are always chances that the employed anesthesia or sedative might not suit you and ends up giving you side effects. Apart from this, excessive bleeding due to incision may occur.
Due to an external cut, there are always chances of acquiring excessive fluid accumulation in the operated area. This accumulation of fluid may also give rise to various kinds of infection that may cause problems afterward.
Some people may have poorer immunity and wound healing property than others, for those these Tummy Tuck wounds might take a long wound recovery time. And these Tummy Tuck procedures may also result in numbness, discoloration of the skin, or unfavorable scarring.
Apart from these complications, a problem might arise on surgeon’s part too, and the abdominal area may not end up getting trimmed symmetrical or a case of suture rupture may make the condition worse. A lot of patients have also complained about persistent pain and cardiac complications.
Along with all these risks, there are always chances that one might get advised for revisional Tummy Tuck surgery.
Preparing for Tummy Tuck Surgery
After the selection of preferred surgeon and going through all the guidelines, there are certain steps that the patient may opt for to get a speedy recovery and healthy results from the Tummy Tuck surgery.
A good diet may acquire the first position on this list; a protein-rich diet may help in good overall health and may also boost your immune to get a speedy recovery. Also, remember high doses of vitamin E may worsen the condition and generate undue complications. Never should you opt for crash diet and avoid all extreme weight loss plans. A regular exercise would definitely enhance your diet too.
Smoking, one of the worst habits even when you are not planning to get a surgery. But especially when you are planning for Tummy Tuck surgery, smoking should be avoided as it constricts the blood vessels and hampers the oxygen flow in the body. Leading to higher surgical complications. People opting for Tummy Tuck surgery must stop smoking at least two weeks prior to surgery for smoother accomplishment throughout the surgical period.
Another important thing is to alert your doctors about all the medication that you are taking. Cause certain medicines and nutrition supplements may increase the chances of complications. One must also avoid consuming anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, and herbal supplements as it may give rise to the risk of bleeding.
Usually, tummy tuck is performed in office-based setting but in case you get it at in out-patient setting, remember to keep someone along with you to fetch you and fetch you away from the location and to remain with you in the case of any emergent situations.