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Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
As we age, the abdomen is one of the most difficult areas to keep trim. Thinning skin and excessive fat deposits are frequent culprits. Pregnant women also deal with stretched skin and the separation of the abdominal muscles (called diastasis). Although a healthy lifestyle and exercise can be effective in curbing excessive belly fat, no amount of dieting or exercise will fully correct sagging, thin skin or diastasis. This is why an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is popular with both women and men.
A tummy tuck reforms a sagging belly and restores a smaller waistline by removing excess fat and skin in the abdominal region, while also bringing the abdominal muscles back together at the midline. The result is a tighter, flatter, and slimmer tummy and waist.
Dr. Beale will examine you during your consultation and ask you a number of questions about what you dislike about the look of your abdomen. He will then discuss the different options with you in detail so that you know what to expect from your surgery. He has many years of experience providing successful tummy tucks for his patients. He approaches every patient as an individual and creates a surgical plan that is customized to your needs, goals, and anatomy.
If you plan to become pregnant, we recommend that you postpone your tummy tuck, as pregnancy can cause separation of the abdominal muscles again, as well as additional sagging of the skin and accumulation of fat. Significant weight gain or weight loss after a tummy tuck can also affect the results, so the best candidates are near their target weight.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
There are a variety of tummy tuck techniques, but generally, a horizontal incision is made in the lower part of the abdomen below the bikini line where the scar will remain hidden under clothes (even a bathing suit). Sometimes, however, an additional incision around the belly button is necessary.
Through the incision, the abdominal skin is lifted off of the abdominal wall up to the rib cage. Stomach skin is then stretched downward, and excess skin is removed. While doing this, the abdominal muscles are also tightened, and excess fat is removed. Fat can also be removed using liposuction.
During this part of the surgery, a “tumescent” solution is injected through a small tube inserted under the skin, called a cannula. This solution contains small amounts of numbing medication, as well as medication to control bleeding. After the solution is allowed to take effect over a few minutes, the cannula, which is attached to a suction machine, is used to aspirate the fat from the targeted areas. The cannula is moved in and out, and the fat is removed until the appropriate body contour is achieved.
The Mini-Tummy Tuck Procedure
A “mini-tummy tuck” is a similar procedure that may also be combined with liposuction. The incision is similar, but smaller than a traditional tummy tuck, and focuses on removing excess skin in the lower abdomen only. Dr. Beale will discuss each option with you in consultation, and based upon your anatomy and desires, he will recommend the best option for you.
Dr. Beale will take care to keep scarring to a minimum while also providing you with your desired outcome. The surgery is performed in a hospital or surgery center under general anesthesia and is completed within approximately one to two hours. Most patients must spend one night in the hospital.
Recovery from a Tummy Tuck
The recovery period after a tummy tuck requires a period of rest for one to two weeks. Swelling, bruising, and discomfort are expected, but you will be given pain and anti-inflammatory medications, which are immensely helpful as you heal.
You must also wear a compression garment around the abdomen for a period of time to help reinforce the new body shape and provide support and comfort. You may have drains placed under the skin for a few days to catch post-operative fluids. These are removed, along with any non-absorbable sutures within one week after surgery. Most sutures are absorbable, however, and do not require removal.
Work and other normal activities can be resumed after two weeks. Sports and strenuous exercise should be avoided for four to six weeks. We will ask you to be careful during sleep and will provide you with detailed post-operative instructions.
You will see the final results of your surgery when post-operative swelling has resolved. Bear in mind, too, that the scar will take some time to fade and flatten after your surgery.
You will see Dr. Beale for follow-up examinations to make sure you are healing well and that you are happy with your results. With proper diet and exercise, your tummy tuck results can last for decades.
Call us for an appointment to discuss how a tummy tuck can recontour the midsection of your body.