Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
AM I SUITABLE FOR TUMMY TUCK?
This will be decided at your consultation. Women who plan to become pregnant imminently should postpone the operation until after their family is complete.
As mentioned there are a number of variations in the technique of abdominoplasty. The decision will be based on the quality of your skin, the presence of stretch marks, the laxity of your muscles, and the amount and distribution of fat. If you have loose muscle and excess skin in both the upper and lower abdominal areas with only modest fat deposits you will most likely require a full abdominoplasty.
If however you have loose skin confined mainly to the lower abdominal area but have retained good skin and muscle tone above the umbilicus with little or no excess fat, then a “mini tuck” may be used. Alternatively if this is accompanied by modest excess fat in the upper abdomen then liposuction may be used in conjunction with the “mini tuck” to improve the result.
WHAT DOES THE OPERATION INVOLVE?
In the Full Abdominoplasty, you must understand that there is a long incision made within the so called “bikini line” just above the pubic area, from hip to hip.
In the “Mini Tuck” technique the skin is separated only between the lower incision line just above the pubic region, and an incision just below the umbilicus. The umbilicus is left in place without the need for a further incision. Liposuction of the flanks may be combined with the abdominoplasty procedure if the distribution of fat calls for this.
WHAT TYPE OF ANAESTHETIC IS USED?
Abdominoplasty is usually performed under general anaesthesia (completely asleep). You will usually require an overnight stay at the hospital.
HOW LONG DOES THE SURGERY TAKE?
Depending on the technique used, and whether this is combined with any other surgery such as liposuction, it usually takes between 2 – 3 hours.
WHAT HAPPENS IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE OPERATION?
Once you’ve recovered, you will notice a compression garment around your waist and abdomen. This is to provide compression of the surgical site to reduce the postoperative swelling and bleeding. In addition you will notice the presence of 2 tubes or drains, which are usually placed under the skin to evacuate any fluid, build up following the surgery. These usually stay for few days until no drainage can be observed in the drains.
You will find that the abdominal area will be quite uncomfortable and that you will have 1-2 pillows placed behind your knees in order to keep these bent to reduce the tension in your abdominal muscles. Likewise you will need to walk slightly bent forwards once you are up and about, for the first few days. You may gradually straighten up as the days pass.
Instructions about washing will be given to you. You should keep the wound dry for few days (4-5 days) according to the progress of your healing.
IS IT PAINFUL?
Pain and discomfort are subjective sensations. Pain is usually minor. For the first week or so you will need to take regular painkillers in order to minimize this. You will not be able to stretch completely your body and you will feel some tension at the incision line. This is probably more noticeable when standing or during walking in the first few days following surgery.
WHAT KIND OF AFTER EFFECTS SHOULD I EXPECT?
Following surgery you will experience considerable swelling and bruising of the abdomen. This will be even more noticeable if the abdominoplasty was accompanied by liposuction. The bruising usually lasts about 3 weeks. While most of the swelling will have dissipated by this time, some subtle swelling will still be present for up to 3 months.
In addition you will notice that the abdomen will feel firm to touch, particularly along the edges of the incision site. This will be as a result of the normal healing process laying down elements of scar tissue to facilitate healing. When this occurs, massage will speed up the recovery. It gradually resolves in time but may take a few months to complete. You should expect the sensation to the skin over the lower abdomen to be reduced after surgery. This is as a result of surgical trauma to the nerves in the region. Although this usually recovers in a few months, permanent numbness in the region can ensue.
Whilst it is true that when an abdominoplasty is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon the risks are small, nonetheless, specific complications with this procedure can and do occur. As in any procedure the risk of significant infection is always possible. This is minimized preventative administration of antibiotics both at the time of surgery and after.
HOW LONG BEFORE I GET BACK TO NORMAL?
Abdominoplasty is a major operation and should always be respected as such. Therefore you should expect a few weeks to pass before you feel yourself again. Remember variations do occur in the time individuals take to heal. Although many people go back to light work duties by 2 weeks. Heavy lifting or strenuous activity is prohibited in the first 6 weeks after surgery. Overall common sense rules in the recovery period.
Abdominoplasty has always been a popular cosmetic surgery request. It will give confidence to the individual and allow them to wear clothes that were previously unsuitable. The effects are generally long lasting provided you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly.