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Everything You Want to Know About a Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck — or abdominoplasty — is a very common surgical procedure that changes the appearance of your midsection. Read on to learn why some people choose to have a tummy tuck. 

A tummy tuck is commonly associated with a mother hoping to remove unwanted fat from her midsection after pregnancy. Indeed, a common reason for having a tummy tuck done is the desire to change the appearance of the abdomen.

However, tummy tucks aren’t only performed after pregnancy. Tummy tucks are also a popular procedure for people who have lost a significant amount of weight and wish to reduce the appearance of loose skin around the abdomen.

There are two types of abdominoplasty. Both are serious procedures performed under general anesthesia:

  • A “mini tummy tuck” involves an incision made across the lower part of the abdomen. The skin is then separated from the abdominal wall, and then the excess fat and skin in this area are removed. Finally, the skin of the abdomen is stretched tight and then closely stitched back together.
  • A “full tummy tuck” involves a large incision made from hip to hip. Then, the skin and fat layer (also called “panniculus”) is elevated. The next step is the excision of the belly button from the surrounding tissue. Once this has been done, the abdominal muscles are repaired and excess fat is removed. Next, a spot for the belly button is formed and it’s placed in the new location. Finally, a surgeon trims the skin flap, closes the wounds, and sometimes stitches them with drains. It’s common for a full abdominoplasty to be augmented with liposuction.

Whenever a person gains and loses a significant amount of weight, for example, because of repeated pregnancies, the abdominal skin stretches and loses tone, and the abdominal muscles become lax.

In addition, many women dislike the appearance of stretch marks that pregnancy or weight gain/loss can cause. Although these marks may fade naturally over time, a tummy tuck will get rid of marks located on the skin that’s removed.

Appearance is not the only reason people get an abdominoplasty. Loose abdominal skin can be prone to irritation and infection.

In addition, many people who lose considerable weight may turn to the procedure to remove the resulting loose skin

Although tummy tucks are typically performed by a plastic surgeon and are considered a cosmetic procedure, appearance is not the only reason people get an abdominoplasty. Loose abdominal skin can be prone to irritation and infection.

Abdominoplasty is a procedure that requires thorough preparation. It’s important to discuss all the details with a surgeon, who will most likely perform some blood tests and examinations before the procedure. 

Remember that a tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia (usually intravenous, sometimes in combination with spinal/epidural). This means that most patients are asleep for the duration of the surgery.

It’s important to discuss all the details with a surgeon, who will most likely perform some blood tests and examinations before the procedure.

Abdominoplasty can take up to five hours to complete. Previously, it was common to stay in the hospital for several days following surgery, but now there is a growing body of evidence that even a full tummy tuck procedure can be successfully done in an outpatient setting.

After surgery, the area of the tummy tuck will be covered by a surgical dressing. A staff member at the clinic provides instructions for the best way to care for the healing wound — among other things, this will mean changing the dressing and keeping the area clean.

Post-surgical care also includes wearing a compression garment to be worn over the dressing. Patients are generally advised to start moving around a day or so after surgery. Walking short distances, even with support, will reduce the risk of developing blood clots.

In total, complete recovery from a tummy tuck can take up to six weeks.

It takes time to fully recover from the procedure. Pain medication is prescribed to manage discomfort while the wound heals. A surgical drain, if administered, may be left in place for some days after surgery

In total, complete recovery from a tummy tuck can take up to six weeks. Over this period of time, several visits with a healthcare professional will take place so they can check the healing of the wound and monitor overall health.

After recovery from a tummy tuck, the contour of the abdomen should be similar to its appearance before weight gain occurred. If the abdominal muscles were sewn together, the core should be stronger and more stable than right before the procedure.

The results of an abdominoplasty are more or less permanent. However, the skin in this region can still become stretched from future pregnancies or weight gain. That’s why doctors often ask patients about pregnancy plans before the procedure. They also advise to postpone surgery until no future pregnancies are desired. In addition, weight maintenance is strongly recommended after the procedure.

The results of an abdominoplasty are more or less permanent. However, the skin in this region can still become stretched from future pregnancies or weight gain.

It’s important to avoid strenuous exercise or other demanding activities until recovery is complete, especially bending backwards, which can stretch the abdominal tissues and delay healing.

Abdominoplasty is a serious procedure that is associated with a number of risks. Available data on complications shows that anywhere from 4 to 20 percent of abdominoplasty patients have complications after a tummy tuck procedure. Up to 1% of surgeries cause thromboembolism, including life-threatening pulmonary embolism. That’s why it’s important for patients to get medical surveillance during and after the procedure.  

There are a number of other risks to be aware of:

  • As with liposuction, a tummy tuck can cause pockets of fluid called seromas to build up in the abdomen. Sometimes this fluid needs to be drained.
  • Infection is the second-most common complication following abdominoplasty. To prevent this, a surgeon can prescribe a single dose of antibiotics postoperatively or choose another regimen of antibiotic prophylaxis.
  • In some cases, blood supply to the skin can become damaged during abdominal surgery, which can cause problems with healing. 
  • During abdominoplasty, the nerves that supply feeling to the skin in the abdomen and upper thighs can be damaged or irritated. This can result in changes in sensation in these parts of your body, including tingling or other sensations (“pins and needles”).

A tummy tuck is a serious surgical procedure that is associated with a number of risks and has a recovery period that may be weeks long.

Although many people choose to have a tummy tuck for cosmetic reasons, this procedure shouldn’t be considered an alternative to healthy weight loss achieved through changes to the diet and following an exercise regimen.

If you feel self-conscious about your body or have low self-esteem, it doesn’t mean that you should necessarily need cosmetic surgery.

A tummy tuck is considered a cosmetic procedure, so the costs associated with this surgery are unlikely to be covered by your health insurance. Seek advice from your healthcare provider if you’re unsure.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tummy-tuck/about/pac-20384892

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26505701

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1271693-treatment#d9

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25283453

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1271693-workup#c5

https://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/fulltext/2014/10001/Abdominoplasty_under_Epidural_Anesthesia___Safer.177.aspx

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