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Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)


Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes loose skin and excess fat from the abdomen and tightens the abdominal muscles for a firmer, flatter and more youthful looking abdomen. This surgery is particularly effective in the reduction of stretch marks, although not all stretch marks can be eliminated.

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The following are some of the benefits of abdominoplasty:

  • Abdominoplasty will restore a flat tummy
  • Easier to maintain weight loss
  • No more stress urinary incontinence
  • Relief from hernias
  • Increased exercise tolerance
  • Improved abdominal tone and better posture
  • Reduced back pain with abdominoplasty
  • The ability to fit in any dress
  • Start to look younger by undergoing abdominoplasty that tightens the loose abdominal skin
  • Stretch marks that exist in the area between the pubic hairline and belly button get eliminated during the process of abdominoplasty

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Abdominoplasty is Beneficial for those who Have:

  • excess fat in the abdominal area that will not respond to diet and exercise.
  • loose, sagging abdominal skin that may hang over previous abdominal scars, such as caesarian section or appendix scars.
  • a protruding abdomen from stretched muscles and skin.
  • abdominal muscles weakened by pregnancy or ageing, which has caused muscle separation and a gap.
  • a healthy lifestyle and are at their ideal weight and in relatively good shape.
  • realistic expectations.

Who Should Not Consider Abdominoplasty?

During surgery, your vertical muscles are tightened and future pregnancies can separate those muscles. So if you are a woman who plans to get pregnant, you should postpone abdominoplasty until you are done having children.

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Abdominoplasty Procedure

There are two types of abdominoplasty, and the surgeon usually performs both of them under general anesthesia.

Full Abdominoplasty:

Two incisions are made, one from the hip bone on one side to the hip bone on the other side of the body, close to the pubic area, the other incision around the navel to free the belly button from the tissue that surrounds it. During the procedure, the skin is separated from the abdominal wall, muscles are tightened, and liposuction may be used to contour the abdomen.

This surgery removes skin from above the navel down to the pubic area that has been compromised by pregnancies, obesity, or genetic laxity. It also involves moving the belly button, and the patient may need drainage tubes under his/her skin for a few days. At the end of the procedure, the incisions are closed and a sterile dressing is applied over the area. This surgery can take between two and five hours and most people need to stay in hospital for a few nights.

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Mini or Partial Abdominoplasty:

During a mini abdominoplasty, a single incision is made in the pubic area, which can range from a few inches to the entire span of the abdomen and will be placed as low as possible. Through this incision, the surgeon will remove excess skin, tighten muscles, and possibly use liposuction to contour the area. A mini abdominoplasty is usually recommended for those whose fat deposits are located below the navel and who have always been in fairly good shape but cannot achieve their aesthetic goals with diet and exercise. During this procedure, the surgeon most likely will not move the belly button, and the procedure may only take up to two hours, depending on the patient’s case.

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Recovery from an abdominoplasty can vary from two weeks to two months. Patients may need to take about four to six weeks off work depending on the extent of their surgery and the level of physical activity in their job. During this time, patients should wear a compression garment and avoid strenuous activity and lifting heavy objects. With the doctor’s permission, they may return to work after a week or two but will not be able to drive for a few weeks.

The first week will be the worst, and managing pain and avoiding complications is the top priority. After a few weeks, regaining mobility and fitness becomes important. After several months, patients can start evaluating the aesthetic outcome of their surgery.

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Abdominoplasty results are usually long lasting if the patient maintains a stable weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise. The final results of abdominoplasty surgery may be initially obscured by swelling and your inability to stand fully upright until internal healing is complete. During the healing process, patients will notice that their abdomen area is firmer and sleeker. At around 6 weeks, most of the swelling will have subsided and they will get a good idea as to the final result. However, final results can be seen more at the 3-month mark.

Risks and Complications

  • Anesthetic problems
  • Infection
  • Bruising, bleeding, blood clots, hematoma formation
  • Scarring
  • Persistent pain
  • Deep Vein thrombosis
  • Skin loss

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Risks and complications specific to abdominoplasty include:

  • Asymmetry of abdominal region
  • Poor healing causing unsightly scarring
  • Poor scarring
  • Altered abdominal sensation, numbness or pain
  • Elevation of pubic hair
  • Malposition of umbilicus
  • Bulges at the ends of the wound (dog ears)

Pre-Operative Instructions

  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding.
  • Stop smoking before undergoing surgery to better promote healing.
  • Do not eat any food or drink after midnight on the evening before surgery.
  • Please do not wear jewelry or makeup, and do not bring valuables with you to surgery.
  • You may shower the morning of your procedure, but do not apply deodorant, creams, lotions, powders or oil to your skin.
  • Do not try a drastic diet before the surgery. Eat well-balanced, complete meals. A healthy diet may help you heal better.

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Post-Operative Instructions

  • After surgery you will be fitted in a garment designed to compress the areas of tummy tuck. Do not remove this garment until directed by the doctor.
  • Rest quietly for 24 hours following surgery.
  • Take frequent short walks to help your circulation and to decrease the risk of blood clot formation in the legs.
  • Do not take your pain medications on an empty stomach.
  • If you had liposuction with your abdominoplasty, do not shower.
  • No heavy lifting, vigorous activity, or straining for three weeks.
  • Do not use heating pads.
  • You will need someone to drive you home after abdominoplasty.
  • You will have to severely limit strenuous activity for at least six weeks.

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How Long will Abdominoplasty Results Last?

The answer is impossible to predict. Factors affecting the answer include your age at the time of surgery, your physical condition afterward, your skin type and future changes in weight. This surgery will not prevent the effects of normal aging. Once the skin is tightened, it will get a little looser as you age, but not much. However, if you gain and then lose a large amount of weight after an abdominoplasty, the abdominal skin could stretch out again, impacting the overall contour. Likewise, if you get pregnant your abdomen will loosen again. For this reason, it is best to wait until after you finish having children to undergo an abdominoplasty, or if you are planning to lose weight, do it before the surgery, and after the surgery, try to maintain a stable weight with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise.

Dr. Hamid Reza Vafaei

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