Commonly referred to as a “tummy tuck”, abdominoplasty is the most frequently performed procedures for recontouring the skin, fat, and muscle of the trunk. The muscles that support the abdomen are often stretched, separated, and weakened by pregnancy or significant weight gain and loss. The significant associated stretching of the skin in those circumstances also produces “stretch marks” and hanging skin that cannot be improved with diet or exercise. Localized abdominal fat accumulation beneath that stretched skin may be resistant to diet and exercise as well.
Abdominoplasty is designed to give you a smoother, flatter, and tighter abdomen by removing the excess abdominal skin and fat and tightening the underlying muscle. Generally this is accomplished through a horizontal incision across the pubic area and extending laterally, with the extent and orientation of the scar varied by Dr. Alan Gold according to the anatomical needs and desires of the patient, and according to the type of bathing suit or undergarments that they wish to wear. If there is laxity of the skin of the upper abdomen, an incision is made around the umbilicus (belly button) so that the upper abdominal skin can be pulled down and tightened as well. If the skin laxity and muscle weakness is limited to the lower abdomen, a “modified or mini-abdominoplasty” may be performed with a shorter horizontal scar and no incision around the umbilicus. Abdominoplasty may sometimes be combined with lipoplasty to achieve the best result possible. The stretch marks of the lower abdomen may be removed with the excess skin; those of the upper abdomen will remain, but may be improved and made less obvious by being stretched flatter and smoother.
Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are in good physical condition with pockets of fat or loose skin that haven’t responded well to diet and exercise. We can also help older, slightly obese people whose skin has lost some of its elasticity.
Abdominoplasty can also be useful for women with stretched skin and muscles from pregnancy. Results from the tummy tuck procedure will likely diminish if women continue to bear children, so we advise patients who plan to become pregnant to delay abdominoplasty.
We also encourage patients who intend to lose a lot of weight to wait before undergoing the procedure, since skin in the abdominal area typically loosens after substantial weight loss.
Customized Treatment for Optimal Cosmetic Results
We take the time during every pre-operative consultation to learn what each patient wants to achieve from a tummy tuck, both for their bodies and for their self-confidence. By listening to what patients have to say and closely examining them rather than performing a one-size-fits-all procedure on every person, we provide patients with completely customized treatment that takes into account their specific goals.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
Abdominoplasty takes approximately two to five hours under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make two incisions: one from hipbone to hipbone close to the pubic area, and another around the navel. He or she will separate the skin from the abdominal muscles, which are then pulled together and stitched into place for a firmer abdomen and narrower waist. He or she will stretch the skin flap down and over the newly tightened muscles, remove excess skin, and reattach the navel in a natural position. Finally, he or she will close the incisions and apply sterile surgical dressings over the sutured areas.
Recovery after Abdominoplasty
A temporary tube may be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site. Recovery time ranges from two weeks to a few months.
Tummy Tuck Results
Abdominoplasty will leave a scar spanning the lower abdomen from hip to hip. We are very careful to make the incision low enough for even a bikini to conceal the scar. With a balanced diet and regular exercise, results are long-lasting.
Risks of Abdominoplasty
Though rare, post-operative complications from surgery are possible. They may include infection, blood clots, and poor healing, which may require further surgery.
Patients who have had previous abdominal surgery should know that their old scars could be raised, stretched or generally more noticeable after the procedure. A scar revision procedure after abdominoplasty may minimize the appearance of an unsightly scar.
Partial Abdominoplasty (Mini Tummy Tuck)
Partial abdominoplasty is similar to abdominoplasty except that a shorter incision is made and the skin is only lifted to the navel, which does not have to be moved.