What Does A Tummy Tuck Involve?

If you think that a tummy tuck surgery may be a great solution for you but you aren’t sure what it involves, the following is a breakdown to help explain the procedure and what it can do for you.

Tummy Tuck refers to a cosmetic, surgical procedure used to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen, tighten lax muscles and create a smooth, tighter tummy area. Tummy tucks come in a few varieties, the main two being mini or full. As you can guess, a mini tummy tuck is a less invasive version of the tummy tuck which addresses less severe skin sagging and fat below the belly button.

Time required in the operating room could be between 2-4 hours. Tummy Tucks are most often performed under general anesthesia. A local, long-acting anesthetic is injected into the abdominal tissues, which ensures long term pain relief long after you wake up. Some patients might have to stay overnight at the hospital but many are able to leave the same day to relax and recover at home. It is important that patients have someone with them for the first 24 hours after surgery in case they need any help or have issues after anesthetic.

To begin your full tummy tuck surgery, a horizontal incision from hip to hip is made just above the pubic bone, lower than the underwear line. A partial abdominoplasty (or “mini”) as well as extended tummy tuck will have varying lengths of incision. During a full tummy tuck, another incision around the belly button is made to free the abdominal skin flap.

The abdominal skin is then lifted, and the surgeon may repair separated muscles by suturing together the thin layer of fascia covering the muscles and pulling them tightly together. This is done vertically, all the way down the midline of the abdomen.

Liposuction is often performed for the upper abdominal area and sides to further assist with contouring and slimming your midsection. Liposuction can remove rolls and bulges of fat which contribute to a protruding belly appearance.

When the internal work is done, the Plastic Surgeon will pull the skin down past the bottom of the incision to reach an ideal tension and position. Excess skin is then trimmed and the layers of tissue can be sutured closed. Absorbable sutures and external tapes may be used to close the incision and cover/protect it. A small opening will be made directly above where the umbilicus is and the belly button will be brought through to the surface so that it can be reconnected with the new, smooth surface skin.

You may or may not have one or two soft drains placed under the surface of your lower abdomen and exiting out of a small opening low in the pubic area. The drains are kept in place with one or two small sutures and allowed to catch inflammatory fluids through a thin tube, into a small, clear bulb. While no one likes wearing these, they can be very useful to ensure that no fluid builds up inside. Because each procedure and each person will be unique, fluid drainage is difficult to predict and drains are often a necessary but short term solution. Typically these can be removed quickly and easily 7-10 days post op.

Each patient may be given instructions unique to their case but general post op guidelines are usually consistent. Patients will wake with a binder or compression garment on in order to reduce swelling and keep tissue layers pressed tightly together. Patients are given instructions to wear this anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 weeks, day and night. You may be given a prescription for pain medication and an antibiotic as well. You will be advised to follow activity restriction instructions and avoid smoking in order to ensure that you heal well and see optimal results.

The first follow-up appointment is usually one to two weeks post op, and again throughout your recovery. The next step is to take it easy, try to be patient for your results, and keep fit and healthy so that your new, slim tummy lasts a lifetime.




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