Abdominoplasty, often called a "tummy tuck," is a popular procedure used to flatten and shape the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin and tightening muscles (the rectus muscles, also called the 6-pack muscles). The best candidates according to Dr. Bershof, a 5280 Top Doctor who has been performing tummy tucks with excellent cosmetic results for several decades. Patients love the look of their new flat stomachs after surgery. A tummy tuck is a powerful operation that accomplishes a great deal.
Candidates for a Tummy Tuck
The best candidates for a tummy tuck are in good physical condition but have a burden of fat and/or loose skin of the tummy, as well as muscle weakness/muscle bulging that hasn’t responded well to traditional diet and exercise. It is also ideal for women whose muscle weakness was caused from pregnancy, a condition referred to as a diastasis recti.
As mentioned, tummy tucks can be useful for women with stretched skin and muscle weakness from pregnancy, even if they do not have a burden of fat. 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 consider postponing this procedure until they are done having children.
We also encourage patients who intend to lose weight to do so before undergoing a tummy tuck. The best results are when a person is within 20% or less of their ideal body weight. It is also important to maintain a reasonable weight after surgery, as a significant weight gain can and will adversely affect the results previously achieved.
Customized Treatment for Optimal Cosmetic Results
We take the time during every pre-operative consultation to learn what patients want 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 a customized treatment that takes into account their specific goals. For instance, some patients might benefit more from liposuction rather than a tummy tuck, or liposuction plus a mini-tummy tuck. A thorough consultation helps to give patients their options.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
Tummy tucks take approximately 2-4 hours and are performed under general anesthesia. This operation is performed as an outpatient procedure but with an overnight stay (23 hours observation).
There will be two incisions: the main incision is from hipbone to hipbone close to the pubic area (an extended C-section incision), and another incision around the navel. The skin and fat is lifted off the underlying rectus muscles, the muscle are tightened with permanent sutures, the excess skin and fat are removed and the incision closed. A new belly button site is created at the correct anatomic position and the navel sutured into position. An abdominal garment is placed and there are drains and stitches that are removed in about one week.
Recovery after Tummy Tuck
Initial recovery time ranges from 7-14 days for return to office type work, and a few months until patients feel back to normal. You should limit strenuous activities for at least 8-12 weeks. Dr. Bershof will give you specific instructions for your individual recovery. Following these instructions can help speed up your recovery and reduce the risk of any post-surgery issues.
Tummy Tuck Results
A tummy tuck leaves patients with a flatter, more toned abdominal area that fits the natural contours of your body. It can improve a patient's appearance and confidence by helping them look and feel younger and slimmer. The results of this procedure are visible right away and will continue to improve as the swelling resolves. With a balanced diet and regular exercise, results are long lasting. Scars will fade a fair amount with time, leaving your stomach sleeker and more defined than before.
A tummy tuck will leave a scar spanning the lower abdomen from hip to hip, a long C-section scar. We are very careful to make the incision low enough for even a bikini to conceal the scar if that is a desire of the patient.
Risks of a Tummy Tuck
Though rare, post-operative complications from any surgical procedure are possible. They may include infection, blood clots, bleeding and poor healing, which may require further surgery.
Patients who have had previous abdominal surgery should know that their old scars might be removed with a tummy tuck, made less conspicuous or more conspicuous, depending upon where the old scars are located.
Partial Abdominoplasty (Mini Tummy Tuck)
Partial abdominoplasty, or "mini tummy tuck", is somewhat similar to the regular tummy tuck procedure, except it involves a shorter incision and the skin is only lifted to the level of the navel. There is no muscle tightening. This procedure is ideal for patients who need just a little improvement of the hanging fold of pannus skin in order to reach their desired results, and is often combined with abdominal liposuction. You can discuss with Dr. Bershof the differences between full and mini-tummy tuck, as well as weigh their benefits and risks, in order to decide which procedure is best for you.