Abdominoplasty is a commonly perfomed surgery for people who have excess skin and fat of their abdomen. Removal of excess skin and fat of the abdomen is frequently indicated in postpartum women who have significant stretch marks and lax skin, and in people who have lost large amounts of weight.
Incisions are made in the lower part of the abdomen and can extend around to the hips. Incisions in a full tummy tuck are made around the belly button and in a mini tummy tuck this periumbilical incision is omitted. During the surgery, excess skin and fat are trimmed and the underlying muscles in the abdominal wall are tightened.
The risks and complications associated with abdominoplasty include, but are not limited to, infection, bleeding, scars, numbness to the abdominal wall, postoperative asymmetries and fluidaccumulations which can occur in the postoperative period.
The patient satisfaction rate is tremendous. People who are anticipating getting pregnant again should not undergo abdminoplasty, as the results will likely just stretch out again. Many people can have abdominoplasty surgery done as an outpatient, and require little or no hospitalization. Frequently plastic drainage tubes are used for several days postoperatively to collect the fluid that accumulates underneath the flap of tissue raised during surgery. Antibiotics are commonly administered both before and after surgery.
Abdominoplasty, also known as “tummy tuck” is a cosmetic operation done to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen and flank area. The procedure is quite a common one and is useful in men or women who are bothered by large fat deposits or loose skin that does not respond to diet or exercise. It is extremely helpful in women who have had one or more children and who have lax lower abdominal musculature. Additionally, in those patients who have sustained massive weight loss, loose hanging skin can be a problem that can be treated in no other way.
Tummy tuck or abdominoplasty surgery should be undertaken in those patients who have plateaued in their weight loss regimen or who have reached their ideal weight through diet or exercise. It can be safely combined with many other operations including breast reduction or liposuction of other areas in the body.
As with all operations, tummy tuck surgery has some risks. The major risks associated with tummy tuck surgery are infection, and scars around the belly button and in the lower “bikini” region. Indeed, the scars can be quite conspicuous and the trade off is a better contoured, flatter abdomen. Additionally, tummy tuck surgery has been associated with blood clots in the leg, which can cause lung problems. This syndrome has been recently seen in Vice President Dan Quayle, who developed blood clots in his legs while flying on relatively long plane trips. He too developed blood clots in the legs, which traveled to his lungs causing the need for hospitalization and blood thinning therapy.
Collection of fluid underneath the surgery site is a common phenomena after tummy tuck surgery and will frequently require several episodes of drainage. Fortunately, this is not a difficult problem to contend with and not painful for the patient.
Most patients after abdominoplasty surgery will have numbness in the area of their abdomen, which can last up to one year. Some patients never regain full sensation in the area of the surgery. Alterations are not uncommonly seen in the appearance of the patient’s belly button after tummy tuck surgery and this is typically permanent.
The risks of wound problems are always present with tummy tuck surgery and the problems with wound healing increase in those patients who smoke and in those patients who have had incisions in their abdomen from other operations. This is particularly true for patients who have had upper abdominal incisions, which are placed in the horizontal direction, such as an old gallbladder surgical incision.
There are three different approaches to contouring your abdomen. The approach chosen by your surgeon will depend upon your goals and your specific anatomic problems. For some people, liposuction of the abdomen alone will produce a thin abdominal wall and flank region. For those people who have significant laxity of their abdominal musculature or who have excess skin, a formal tummy tuck is the only way to achieve improvement. For those patients who have laxity and excess skin below their belly button, a mini tummy tuck is all that is necessary. This will involve a smaller incision in the bikini area and no incision around the belly button. Through this excision, excess skin and fat is removed and is usually done in association with liposuction of the upper abdominal wall and flank region. Through this incision, permanent sutures are placed into the abdominal musculature to tighten the abdominal wall. Excess skin and fat are resected and the wound closed.
In those patients who have significant skin excess throughout their abdominal wall or laxity of the entire abdominal musculature, a full tummy tuck is done. This involves an incision around the belly button, as well as a somewhat longer hip to hip scar. Through this incision, the entire abdominal wall is surgically tightened with permanent sutures. Excess skin and fat is removed and the belly button is brought out through a separate incision in the abdominal wall.
Commonly the surgical site involves the placement of plastic tubes called drains. These remain in place for 5 to 7 days after surgery and are relatively painless to remove. Patients are required to wear some form of a girdle or abdominal binder after surgery for 3 to 4 weeks, to achieve maximal benefits. Exercise should be delayed for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. Most patients are back to work in 7 to 14 days after the operation.
Surgery can be done as an in or out patient, and can be done under general or spinal anesthesia. Results can be quite dramatic with a narrower waist and a long lasting trim figure!