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QUICK FACTS Over 160,000 men & women had a tummy tuck in 2013 Most patients return to work after 2 to 3 weeks Scars from a tummy tuck can usually be hidden easily by a bikini bottom Results are typically permanent so long as the patient maintains a stable weight
What is a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck tightens and reshapes the abdominal area, helping to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing, slimmer overall appearance. Having a flatter, firmer midsection can dramatically improve the way clothing fits and looks, helping you feel more confident and comfortable in your body.
During the procedure, the abdominal muscles are tightened and excess, sagging skin is eliminated, correcting a protruding belly and leaving the midsection flatter and better toned. Tummy tucks are popular procedure for men and women, particularly those whose bodies have undergone dramatic changes from weight loss or pregnancy.
The decision to have any cosmetic procedure is personal, and patients choose to have tummy tucks for a variety of reasons. The best candidates are at or near their ideal body weight, are non-smokers in good health, and have realistic expectations about what surgery can achieve for them. If any of the following describe you, a tummy tuck is an option to consider:
A tummy tuck can help patients in any of these situations address what they don’t like about their shape and achieve a firmer, flatter abdomen.
A tummy tuck can help create a firmer, flatter abdomen.
When considering tummy tuck surgery, the single most important choice you will make is deciding on a cosmetic surgeon to perform your procedure. Tummy tuck surgery requires specialized training and experience to ensure a safe and successful outcome. When you consult with a potential cosmetic surgeon, make sure you ask how many tummy tucks he or she has performed and about how frequently the surgeon performs this procedure.
Always confirm a cosmetic surgeon’s training and board certification. Choosing a board certified cosmetic surgeon ensures that the person performing your procedure has had formal training in tummy tuck cosmetic surgery and that your procedure will be performed in a fully accredited surgical facility.
Finally, look at before and after photos, paying special attention to the results of patients whose bodies look similar to yours before surgery—this will help you get an idea for that surgeon’s aesthetic sensibility.
No two patients start with identical concerns, nor will any two patients share the exact same goals. Your cosmetic surgeon will recommend the type of tummy tuck that will achieve your desired outcome and create natural-appearing results with the least scarring possible.
Are you mainly bothered by a “pooch” or loose skin and stretch marks below the belly button? A mini-tummy tuck may be a good option for you. This technique involves a single incision made just above the pubic mound, through which your cosmetic surgeon will tighten loose muscles (flattening the “pooch”) and remove excess skin to restore a smooth, flat abdominal wall.
The resulting scar from a mini-tummy tuck is a thin, horizontal line that is typically just a few inches long. Benefits of a mini-tummy tuck include a shorter, less involved procedure, a quicker recovery, and a flatter, slimmer lower abdomen that looks better in swimsuits and fitted clothing.
Are you bothered by roundness and/or excess skin folds above and below your belly button? A full tummy tuck, which addresses the full length of the abdominal wall, may yield the best results. Through a horizontal or U-shaped incision, made above the pubic mound, your cosmetic surgeon will remove excess skin and tighten the abdominal muscles. In some cases, a second incision is made around the navel to address excess skin above the belly button and achieve the most natural looking results.
The resulting scar from a full tummy tuck looks similar to that for a mini-tummy tuck, but will typically be longer, running from hip bone to hip bone. Even so, a full tummy tuck scar can usually be hidden beneath a swimsuit bottom. Benefits of a full tummy tuck include a much flatter, smoother abdomen, reduced appearance of stretch marks, and enhanced comfort in pants and skirts. You will also find that form-fitting dresses and swimsuits have a more flattering fit.
Have you lost a lot of weight and now have excess, sagging skin hanging around the front half of your body? Or, have you noticed significant laxity in your abdominal muscles following multiple pregnancies? An extended tummy tuck may be the best option to address your concerns. Although it involves a longer incision, an extended tummy tuck removes excess, hanging skin from the front (upper and lower abdomen) and the flanks, as well as tightens the abdominal wall.
The resulting scar from an extended tummy tuck can often be hidden by clothing, including many swimsuits, but it may not be entirely covered for some patients. Even so, many patients consider some visible scarring a worthwhile price for a much improved body shape.
The majority of tummy tucks can be performed as outpatient procedures, and patients go home a few hours after surgery. However, your cosmetic surgeon may require an overnight hospital stay after a more extensive tummy tuck so you can be safely monitored during the initial hours of your recovery. Because a tummy tuck involves surgery on the abdominal muscles, recovery after a tummy tuck takes more time than that for other procedures.
Expect to be sore and somewhat uncomfortable for the first week or so and spend the first few days resting quietly at home, although you will be encouraged to get up and walk around the house to maintain healthy circulation. It is not uncommon for patients to have drains temporarily placed in the incisions to help remove fluid after surgery. If this is the case for you, your cosmetic surgeon will give you detailed instructions for keeping the area clean and well-maintained until their removal a few days following surgery.
Depending on how physically demanding your job is, you may be ready to return to work after 2 to 4 weeks. If you have a desk job, you should be able to go back to work on the early side of this time frame, but if your job involves lifting, straining or other strenuous activities, expect to take up to a month away from such tasks.
Tummy tuck surgery is especially popular with moms post-pregnancy, and childcare is a common concern. Because of the limits placed on lifting and straining, you will need to have full-time help with small children for the first few weeks after a surgery. Lifting even a 25 pound child too soon after a tummy tuck can jeopardize your results by stretching the incision site and possibly leading to prolonged bleeding and swelling. Follow your cosmetic surgeon’s instructions carefully and completely.
If your children are a little older, you should be able to resume many of your parenting duties, such as driving, cooking, and shopping, after the first 2 or 3 weeks. Just make sure you have plenty of help carrying groceries, feeding the pets, and doing other more active tasks.
The improvements made during a tummy tuck are meant to last—abdominal muscles will remain firmer and tighter and the excess skin will not return. However, future pregnancies or weight gain can negatively affect your results, causing the muscles or skin to stretch back out and become lax after returning to your normal weight. If you’re planning to have more children or you are still working on reaching your goal weight, it’s best to wait until you have achieved these milestones before having a tummy tuck.
When performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, a tummy tuck can be a life-changing procedure, helping you enjoy a slimmer, more youthful body that looks and feels better every day. The best way to learn more is to meet with a board certified cosmetic surgeon for a consultation.
Historically the answer to that question was “yes”; however, new techniques have eliminated the need for drains in many cases. We now can use special stitches – known as progressive tension sutures – to seal the tissue together so that there is no need for a drain. The progressive tension technique has another advantage as well; it often allows us to remove a bit more skin than we could otherwise. Although I currently can’t prove it, I also suspect that the sutures help make the scar from the tummy tuck better because they reduce the tension on the skin during healing. Patients love it when they don’t have to have drains.
Historically tummy tucks were one of the more painful operations that plastic surgeons performed, especially when repair of the muscles was required. Over the past several years, the development of some new ways of controlling pain has helped this situation a lot. First came the development of pain pumps – these are devices that push a local anesthetic through a small tube and into the area of surgery. These were very helpful and many surgeons still use them, but it requires a tube coming out of the skin. More recently there has been the development of a long lasting local anesthetic which can give significant pain control for up to 3 days, and it doesn’t require a tube. Good pain control clearly makes the recovery more pleasant. It also means that less narcotic pain medicine is required; therefore, there is less chance of a reaction to the medication. In addition, it may make the surgery even safer by allowing patients to move around more easily and to be more active.
Well, the answer depends on several factors and to what level of recovery you are thinking about. If you don’t need the muscles repaired, it is likely that your recovery is going to be easier and quicker. Most patients having a full tummy tuck (with muscle repair) find that they are generally able to drive a car within a week, depending on their pain level (remember you don’t want to drive when on narcotic pain medicine). Many patients can work remotely from home, and find that they are able to log on to their computers, answer emails, or even have a conference call after only a few days, although they won’t feel like going in to work for maybe 2-3 weeks post surgery. Light exercise (e.g. walking or gently peddling on a stationary bike) can start by this time as well. By 6-8 weeks, most patients would consider themselves fully or nearly fully recovered, although it is worth remembering that the nerves will continue to heal, the scar will continue to fade, and the swelling will continue to go down for several months.
There is no “normal” age or time in one’s life to have an abdominoplasty, but it is most often done after a woman has given birth and does not plan to have more children, or after someone has lost all the weight he or she intends to lose.
A full tummy tuck is usually performed under general anesthesia.The surgeon makes an incision across the lower abdomen just above your pubic bone and pubic hair.This incision may go from hip to hip, but it is usually placed so that it will be hidden by a bikini bottom. Then, skin and fat is separated from the abdominal muscles up to the bottom of the rib cage. An incision is made around the belly button to loosen the skin and detach it from the belly button. Most frequently, excess skin and fat below the belly button is removed.
In a full abdominoplasty, the fascia and rectus abdominus muscles are tightened by folding the fascia along the centerline of the abdomen. This tightens the muscles and abdominal wall. The skin above the belly button is pulled down toward the pubis and sutured into position as the incision is closed. A new hole is made in the skin to suture around the belly button.
Usually, one or two drains are placed under the skin under the incision to allow fluids to drain from the site for a few days. These drains are usually placed through small incisions above your pubic bone. The drains are plastic tubes that end in plastic bulbs that look sort of like grenades. The bulbs are emptied regularly and are squeezed before they are reattached to the tubes so that there is a bit of negative pressure that helps with the drainage of fluid.
There are several different techniques for abdominoplasty, most of which differ in the amount of tissue that is removed and the shape and placement of the incision. Most abdominoplasty surgeons try to place incisions in the most inconspicuous area whenever they can, but sometimes this is not possible. Discuss this with your surgeon beforehand. Some surgeons go completely horizontal and straight across with their incisions, some use a V shape, and others follow along the bikini line. In my opinion, an incision following the bikini line is the best since the scar can be easily concealed, but your body’s needs will determine the incision placement for you.
Abdominoplasty takes a long time to heal completely. While the drains are in, you should rest in bed or on a couch, but get up to walk frequently. You may be told to wear a compression garment, usually a girdle or a wide band of elastic material. You may be instructed to wear this for 3 to 6 weeks. Many patients can return to work after 2 weeks after tummy tuck surgery, but this depends on how extensive your surgery is and what you do for a living. In some cases, you may need to be off work 4 or more weeks.
The results can last for many, many years. If you have no large weight gain or pregnancies after your tummy tuck, then the changes will be relatively permanent. There will be some relaxation of the tissues with age, but not to the extent prior to surgery.
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According to its infomercial, in only 10 minutes a day, you can supposedly get the same results as if you undergo a tummy tuck by a plastic surgeon with the Tummy Tuck Miracle Slimming System (also known as the 10 Minute At Home Tummy Tuck Method).
A mini abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is limited to supra-pubic skin removal (skin above the pubic area) and fat removal using liposuction. The patient must have minimal to moderate skin redundancy, a small amount of abdominal fat, and minor to moderate muscle flaccidity. The surgeon aspirates the abdominal fat, removes the supra-pubic skin redundancy, and in cases of muscle flaccidity, the medial part of the abdominal skin is removed. Finally the skin is sutured with the umbilicus preserved.