Tummy Tuck Procedure

A tummy tuck procedure, also known as abdominoplasty, tightens loose muscles and removes excess skin in the abdomen to give patients a smoother, firmer contour. It is a major surgery and individuals considering this elective procedure should be aware of the risks and benefits of the operation.

Candidates for Abdominoplasty

The ideal candidate for an abdominoplasty is in good physical health and moderately fit with a stable weight. Smokers are not considered good candidates for any elective surgery since smoking increases the risk of blood clots and other post-surgical complications. Although the results of this type of surgery are considered permanent, pregnancy or fluctuations in body weight can cause the skin of the abdomen to stretch, so those planning to become pregnant or to lose weight should postpone the surgery.

The Surgery

This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia and the surgeon will discuss the best options for anesthesia with each patient. The incision is made below the pubic hairline and the size of the incision will depend on the individual patient and the amount of repair required. In some instances, an additional incision around the navel may be necessary to achieve the desired results. The surgeon works through the incision to tighten sagging muscles, remove excess fat and excise excess skin in the abdominal area.

Post-Surgical Recovery Time

Preliminary healing at the incision site usually takes 7 to 10 days, but the skin heals faster than the underlying muscle tissue. Patients with sedentary jobs that require no lifting or bending may be permitted to return to work two weeks post op. Patients with jobs that require long hours of standing will probably need to take 4 weeks to recover. The surgeon's restrictions on lifting and bending are usually for 6 to 8 weeks, so patients with more demanding jobs usually are placed on light duty or cannot return to work until released by the doctor.

Risks of a Tummy Tuck Procedure

The most common risks of abdominoplasty are adverse reactions to anesthesia and post-surgical infection. Other complications include poor wound healing, unfavorable scarring, numbness of the skin in the area, wound separation, skin discoloration, prolonged swelling and asymmetry. Additional surgery may be necessary to correct scarring or less than optimal surgical results. All major surgery carries risks and patients are advised to ask their surgeon about the risks before undergoing any elective procedure.

Reasons for Abdominoplasty

The reasons for undergoing abdominoplasty are usually excess skin and loose muscles due to pregnancy, substantial weight loss or age. This type of surgery is not a substitute for healthy weight loss and individuals who are obese are poor surgical candidates since the surgery is unlikely to provide the results they desire. Individuals who have lost a large amount of weight and have sagging skin are excellent candidates for a tummy tuck procedure since removal of the excess skin will enhance their weight loss and general appearance.

Like most cosmetic surgery, abdominoplasty is a highly individual surgery from the reasons for seeking the operation to the extent of the procedure and the final results. People considering a tummy tuck procedure are urged to consult a board certified cosmetic surgeon about the risks and benefits of this type of surgery.