Tummy tuck-or abdominoplasty-is a surgical procedure that gives a slimmer profile by removing excess skin, tightening abdominal muscles and removing excess fat. The procedure is performed on more women than men, but it is finding more popularity among men who seek to get rid of their "middle-age pouch." The procedure is ideal for men and women who have lost a lot of weight, have sagging skin and weak abdominal muscles, and for women who have had children.
The benefits of tummy tuck are enormous. Patients feel more confident, clothing fits better and stubborn pockets of fat are gone.
Tummy Tuck Candidates
The best candidates for tummy tuck are patients who are within their normal weight ranges but have been unable to lose stubborn fat deposits through diet and exercise. They should be in overall good health and have realistic expectations about what abdominoplasty can and cannot do for them.
Tummy Tuck Surgery
The procedure takes two to five hours and is usually performed on an outpatient basis and general anesthesia. The type of incision and procedure depends on the patient's goals and extent of work to be performed. Generally, these are the four types of tummy tucks:
- Complete tummy tuck uses an incision above the pubic area along the bikini line and from the belly button to the horizontal incision, forming an anchor-shaped incision. The surgeon removes excess fat and skin, tightens the musculature and closes the incisions.
- Tumescent tummy tuck, which combines liposuction with removal of the excess fat and skin.
- Mini tummy tuck is similar to a complete tummy tuck, but it does not use a navel incision, the incision is much smaller, less work is performed and, therefore, recovery time is shorter
- Extended tummy tuck includes a complete tummy tuck with the addition of fat deposits in the back, hips, thighs and sides. It is the most invasive and most extensive of the four procedures and, therefore, has a longer recovery period.
The incisions will be sealed with sterile sutures, and the area will be wrapped with bandages and most likely covered with a compression garment. The garment will help reduce swelling, bruising and pain. Swelling is normal after a tummy tuck; this was, after all, major surgery. Abdominoplasty patients will notice that their shapes have changed immediately after surgery, but full effects of the procedure aren't appreciated until about 30 days post-operatively.
Activity immediately after tummy tuck will be restricted, depending on the extent of the surgery, but generally patients are back to work in one to three weeks with heavy lifting and low-impact exercise restrictions.
Tummy Tuck Considerations
Some scarring with tummy tuck is inevitable, and might be visible when the patient wears a bathing suit. A skilled tummy tuck surgeon will strategically place incisions where they will be covered by clothing, and following the surgeon's post-operative instructions will help minimize the visibility of scarring.
Although this invasive procedure can take several weeks or months to fully recover, most patients report that the recovery time was worth it. They are happy with their new looks and feel more confident and attractive.