Abdominoplasty ( tummy tuck) is a procedure where the excessive fat and the sagging skin tissue in the middle and the lower abdomen are taken out, and the abdominal muscles are tightened and strengthened. However, contrary to popular misbelief, it is not a weight reduction surgery. People who are candidates for this operation should lose as much weight as they will prior to the operation. This operation dramatically improves the appearance of the overweight belly and abdominal appearance, although the surgical scars are permanent. Plastic surgeons use numerous techniques for abdominoplasty operations. The procedure, based on the patient’s needs, may be performed as a full or partial (mini-abdominoplasty) procedure. Adominoplasty can be combined with other body contouring operations such as breast aesthetic operations or liposuction; or in association with uterus and ovary operations.
Who are suitable candidates for an abdominoplasty
• Women or men whose overweight bodies do not respond to diet and exercise, who despite having skin laxity have good body contours.
• Women who have had multiple children, and have striae and sagging of the abdominal skin along with abdominal muscle weakness (women planning to give birth are recommended to postpone the operation until after delivery)
Which procedures are performed during the operation?
A full abdominoplasty may take 2-4 hours depending on the extent of the operation, and a mini abdominoplasty may take 1-2 hours. During the operation, generally two cuts are made, one of them goes from one hip to the other and can be hidden under a bathing suit, the other is a circular one around the belly button. The incision is shorter in a mini abdominoplasty, and the belly button may remain in its original position. The abdominal skin is detached from the underlying muscles, beginning from the groin area and up to the level of the ribs. If there is a weakness in the abdominal muscles or a herniation, it is supported, and finally the excess skin is cut and removed from the body. These procedures are more limited in a mini abdominoplasty. One or two tubes, named drains, may be placed under the skin to remove the fluid that will accumulate in the operative site.
How is the recovery period after the operation?
After the operation, the patient may experience pain in the abdominal area, which can be managed with painkillers. The patient needs to stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days. The drains are removed 1-3 days after the operation. Depending on the intensity of their work, the patient can begin working 1-3 weeks after the operation. Although the scar does not fade completely, it can be easily hidden under a bikini. Partial or total abdominoplasty operations yield successful results for patients with weak or sagging abdominal muscles. For most patients, the results can be preserved for many years through regular exercise and diet.
Are there treatments alternative to abdominoplasty?
Vacuum assisted fat removal can be appropriate in the following conditions:
• A high quality and tight skin
• Limited fat deposition
• An intact abdominal wall
• A normal weight
Diet and exercise programs may be effective in decreasing the total body weight, however they do not affect skin laxity.