The abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” procedure is designed to correct excess skin, fat and muscle laxity of the abdominal region. After pregnancy or significant weight loss, many end up with a sagging, or protruding abdomen. Exercise is ineffective in correcting the stretched abdominal skin.
A tummy tuck is not a weight loss solution but a procedure to assist removing skin and fat after significant weight loss. It is a remarkably effective way to re-contour the abdominal area for a better look and increased comfort.
The best candidates for this procedure are non-smokers who are at or near their ideal weight and have maintained that weight for about 6 months. It is important for patients to be at a healthy BMI and weight prior surgery and in some cases the patient may be required to lose more weight prior to proceeding.
This surgery requires a general anaesthetic and overnight hospital care for 2 to 5 nights in a private hospital.
Depending on the level of correction needed, the incision is horizontal and extends from hip to hip across your lower abdomen.
A shorter version of this incision is indicated for excess fat and skin limited to the area below the umbilicus. Regardless of the incision you require, it will be as low as possible for maximum discretion. In most cases, tummy tuck scars can be easily concealed beneath clothing and swimwear.
During the procedure, unwanted fat deposits are reduced using liposuction. The excess skin is removed and the remaining skin across your abdomen is re-draped for a smooth contour. The umbilicus will be reshaped and repositioned.
The contour of your abdominal muscles is reshaped with internal suturing, much like quilting, to secure the abdominal skin and tissues vertically along the abdominal wall. This technique closes the open space where fluid builds up after a traditional tummy tuck, which in appropriate cases eliminates the need for drains. This option can relieve the stress, discomfort, and inconvenience associated with surgical drains, which is a plus for many patients.
Before surgery, you will receive specific recovery instructions for abdominoplasty patients. While patient experiences vary, you can expect recovery to follow this general timeline:
First 1 to 2 Days
You will need a friend or family member to drive you home after surgery, to stay with you for the first 24 hours, and possibly a day or so longer.
Sleeping in a sitting or propped up with pillows will help to reduce the tension on your scar.
Some temporary bruising, swelling, and numbness of the abdomen can be expected.
You can use medication prescribed by your plastic surgeon to control discomfort, if needed.
You will have a follow-up appointment approximately 5 to 7 days after surgery.
Return to Work
Most patients are ready to return to their everyday activities within 2 weeks, and physical activities are limited for one month or more.
Tummy Tuck is a frequently performed, safe procedure. However, no surgery is completely without risks.
There is a possibility of infection, blood clots, bleeding, bruising, contour asymmetry, conspicuous scarring, skin loss, swelling or reaction to anaesthesia.
A comprehensive list of instructions for surgery preparation and post-operative care will be provided to each patient. These instructions should be followed carefully for the best possible outcome.
Certain over the counter products and prescription medicines can cause complications before and after surgery. Do not take any medication containing or related to aspirin two weeks prior to your procedure. This includes NSAID’S, anti-Inflammatory medications, blood thinning medication. Please see your doctor regarding if and when to cease medication. This is not an all-inclusive list.
Also avoid Vitamin E supplements and red wine. Stop all herbal medications before surgery. The most common herbs used are Echinacea, Ephedra, Garlic, Ginseng, Ginkgo, Kava, St. John’s Wort, and Valerian. They may adversely affect anaesthetic drugs, prolong bleeding and impair healing after surgery.
Smoking increases the risks of complications significantly and should be ceased 6 to 8 weeks prior to surgery.
In some cases, this procedure is partially covered by insurance.
The cost of an abdominoplasty procedures depends on the complexity of the surgery.
An iPad with before & after pictures to illustrate the results will be available.
We worked together at Westmead Children’s Hospital. Dr. Ballieux is a passionate physician.