Tummy Tuck Procedure Guide
Guide by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery with additions from the RealSelf editorial team
Tummy Tuck surgery is a plastic surgery procedure meant to address a protruding tummy, excess hanging skin, or extra folds of abdominal skin. Tummy tuck plastic surgery is also referred to as an abdominoplasty.
|Inside this Guide|
|1. Before Tummy Tuck||6. Mini Tummy Tuck|
|2. During Tummy Tuck||7. Side effects|
|3. After Tummy Tuck||8. Cost|
|4. Recovery||9. Consultation questions|
|5. How long Tummy Tuck lasts||10. Terminology to know|
A tummy tuck can restore weakened or separated muscles, creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer. A tummy tuck is not a weight loss solution or an appropriate alternative to exercise.
Tummy tuck surgery may be appropriate for you if:
- You are physically healthy and at a stable weight
- You have realistic expectations
- You are a non-smoker
- You are bothered by the feeling that your tummy is too large
If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs can cause increased bleeding, so you should avoid taking these medications for a period of time before surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with additional preoperative instructions.
Abdominoplasty may be performed on an outpatient basis. If this is the case, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you for at least the next day or two. When abdominoplasty is performed in conjunction with medically necessary procedures such as hysterectomy or hernia repair, a short hospitalization may be required.
Your abdominoplasty may be performed in a hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite.
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. Often, a general anesthetic is administered, so that you will be asleep throughout the procedure. Abdominoplasty may be performed using local anesthesia and intravenous sedation. When surgery is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. In many instances, small drain tubes will have been placed within the abdominal tissues to help avoid accumulation of fluids. Gauze or other dressings may be applied to your abdomen and covered with tape or an elastic bandage.
The most common tummy tuck incision is horizontal, placed just within or above the pubic area. The length of the incision, which extends laterally toward the pelvic bones, depends largely on the amount of skin to be removed. The contour of this incision can vary according to the structure of your abdomen and the style of bathing suit or undergarments that you prefer. Your plastic surgeon will try to keep the incision within your bathing suit lines, but this may not always be possible.
You may be permitted to go home after a few hours, unless you and your plastic surgeon have determined that you will stay in the hospital or surgical facility overnight.
The day after surgery, you will be encouraged to get out of bed for short walks to promote blood circulation. Although you may not be able to stand up completely straight, it is best if you do not sit for long periods of time during the first several days. Straining, bending and lifting must be avoided, since these activities might cause increased swelling or even bleeding. You may be instructed to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.
Any surgical drains probably will be removed within a week following surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed. Depending on the abdominoplasty technique used, you may be instructed to wear a support garment for several weeks. Generally, stitches will be removed in stages over a period of approximately one or two weeks.
You will notice swelling and bruising, which is to be expected. The bruising and much of the swelling will disappear over a period of weeks. However, it may be months before all swelling subsides and you see the final result of your abdominoplasty. You may also notice some numbness over portions of the abdominal area, and this may persist for several months. Incisions will initially be red or pink in color. They will remain this way for many months following surgery and may even appear to worsen before they finally begin to fade.
It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals. Depending on the extent of your abdominoplasty and your general physical condition, you may be able to return to non-strenuous work anywhere from one to three weeks after surgery. In many instances, you can resume most of your normal activities, including some form of mild exercise, after a few weeks. You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort and swelling during this time, but such feelings are normal. Severe pain should be reported to your doctor.
Any sexual activity should be avoided for a minimum of two weeks, and your plastic surgeon may advise you to wait longer.
The incisions from the procedure will heal and fade over time. It is important to realize, however, that the incision lines will be permanently visible. In some instances, they will eventually be only faint lines. Certain individuals may have incision lines that are more noticeable. Fortunately, the incisions for your abdominoplasty are usually in locations concealed by most bathing suits and undergarments.
Tummy tuck recovery questions to ask your plastic surgeon:
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
Unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight or become pregnant, your abdomen should remain firmer and flatter for many years. However, gravity and the effects of aging will eventually take their toll. If, after a period of years, you again become dissatisfied with the appearance of your abdomen, you may choose to undergo a second procedure to restore a more youthful body contour.
There are many variations both to the design of the incisions and the technique itself. In some instances, it may be possible to avoid an incision around the navel. When the amount of loose skin is minimal and the excess fat deposits are located below the navel, a short horizontal incision is all that is necessary. This procedure is called a partial tummy tuck or "mini tummy tuck." Mini tummy tucks are done in office surgical suites and at hospital outpatient surgery centers.
A tummy tuck is surgery and surgery has inherent risks that should be discussed well in advance with your doctor.
Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia. Tissue loss along portions of the horizontal incision is a possibility when the abdominoplasty is very extensive. This complication, which delays healing and prolongs recovery, is more common in patients who smoke or have medical conditions such as diabetes. Revisionary surgery is sometimes helpful in certain instances where incisions may have healed poorly.
Following surgery, occasionally, fluid may accumulate under the skin. Removal of this serum is a painless process but may require several visits to the plastic surgeon's office.
Tummy tuck cost can vary widely as reflected in the tummy tuck cost data posted on RealSelf.com. A surgeon’s cost for a tummy tuck may vary based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used, as well as geographic office location.
Cost may include:
- Surgeon’s fee
- Hospital or surgical facility costs
- Anesthesia fees
- Prescriptions for medication
- Post-surgery garments, and
- Medical tests
- Read about the experiences of others who've undergone a tummy tuck. See real tummy tuck reviews.
* Abdominoplasty: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
* Diastasis: Condition in which abdominal muscles have separated.
* General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
* Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
* Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
* Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness.
* Local anesthesia: A drug is injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
* Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
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