An abdominoplasty or ‘tummy tuck’ is an operation designed to reshape the entire abdomen. The modern tummy tuck removes excess skin, fat and tightens any loose musculature to create a flat tummy and svelte waistline. Liposuction is required in nearly all cases to add the finishing touches to your contour.
A full tummy tuck targets both the lower and upper abdomen. The entire abdominal skin is re-draped and the abdominal wall musculature is tightened. The umbilicus (belly-button) is also moved into a more appropriate location. A mini tummy tuck is a smaller procedure which principally concentrates on tightening and reshaping the lower abdomen.
Abdominoplasty surgery, an out-patient procedure takes 1 ½ to 3 hours. The most common technique involves A horizontal incision is placed in the pubic region, along the ‘bikini line’ (or utilizing your caesarean scar should you have one). The final scar is designed to fall discreetly within your undergarments, lingerie and/or swimsuit lines. If your abdominal muscles are separated (for example after pregnancy) then these are bound back together. The excess skin and fat is then removed, and your belly button is re-created. Liposuction is often combined with an abdominoplasty to contour the abdomen and can be extended to include the hips, flanks and thigh regions.
When the amount of loose skin is minimal and the excess fat deposits are located below the navel, a less extensive procedure called a “mini abdominoplasty” may be recommended. Unfortunately not many pateints are candidates for this. This involves a short horizontal incision and can sometimes avoid the incision around the navel. Once the incisions are closed, a firm elastic bandage is placed over the area. Any discomfort can be relieved with medication prescribed by your surgeon. You may be up and around in a day or two, but heavy physical activity should be avoided for 6 weeks. Most patients return to work within one to three weeks depending on the on the extent of the abdominoplasty. Although every effort is made to minimize scarring, the scars will be permanent, gradually fading over time. Generally it is good to have someone home to help out for 1-2 weeks.
You will initially be nursed in a flexed position on your bed and you will slowly straighten up over the next few days prior to your discharge. There will be drains in your abdomen which are removed usually by the time of discharge.
While recovery time will vary from patient to patient based on the extent of surgery undertaken, you should plan for the following:
- At least 2-3 weeks off work
- No heavy lifting for 6 weeks
- You must have someone to help with the care of young children for at least the first 3 weeks post-operatively.
The abdomen feels “tight” for several weeks after surgery, as though you are wearing an internal corset. Numbness may be present around the incision and the belly itself and in some cases may be permanent. The scar begins to fade after 3 months and may take 1 to 2 years to reach its final appearance. The majority of bruising and swelling will resolve by 6 weeks but can persist for several months.