Abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is a cosmetic surgery procedure used to make the abdomen more firm. The surgery involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen in order to tighten the muscle and fascia of the abdominal wall. This type of surgery is usually sought by patients with loose tissues after pregnancy or individuals with sagging after major weight loss.
Abdominoplasty operations vary in scope and are frequently subdivided into categories. Depending on the extent of the surgery, a complete abdominoplasty can take 1 to 5 hours. A partial abdminoplasty (Mini-Tuck Abdominoplasty) can be completed between 1 to 2 hours.
In general, a complete (or full) abdominoplasty follows these steps:
- An incision is made from hip to hip just above the pubic area.
- Another incision is made to free the navel from the surrounding skin.
- The skin is detached from the abdominal wall to reveal the muscles and fascia to be tightened.
- The muscle fascia wall is tightened with sutures.
- The remaining skin and fat are tightened by removing the excess and closing the defect.
- The old belly button stalk is brought out through a new hole and sutured into place.
- Liposuction is often used to refine the transition zones of the abdominal sculpture
- A dressing and sometimes a compression garment are applied and any excess fluid from the site is drained.
A partial (or mini) abdominoplasty proceeds as follows:
- A smaller incision is made.
- The skin and fat of the lower abdomen are detached in a more limited fashion from the muscle fascia.
- The skin is stretched down and excess skin removed.
- Sometimes the belly button stalk is divided from the muscle below and the belly button slid down lower on the abdominal wall.
- Sometimes a portion of the abdominal muscle fascia wall is tightened.
- Liposuction is often used to contour the transition zone.
- The flap is stitched back into place.
An extended abdominoplasty is a complete abdominoplasty with extensions into the thighs (front) and/or flanks (sides).
An abdominoplasty is a component of a lower body lift and can be combined with liposuction contouring, breast reduction, breast lift, or occasionally hysterectomy, depending on the reason for the hysterectomy.
Depends on the areas to be treated, surgical techniques, and other factors. The recovery can take one to four weeks and patients are advised to take at least a portion of this recovery time off from work. Heavy activity especially is best avoided during this time. Initially there mayalso be some bruising and discomfort.
A supportive abdominal binder or compression garment can minimize swelling / bruising, and support the repaired tissues and Patients are advised to avoid all forms of nicotine for a month or longer prior to surgery and also during the recovery period.
Full recovery takes 3 – 6 months, with further fading of scars thereafter.
By Geoff Lord