When most people envision what they consider an ideal or beautiful body, a slender midsection with a small waist and a toned abdomen is usually part of that image. The abdomen, however, is, unfortunately, one of those areas of the body where fat tends to accumulate. Furthermore, with aging and especially after pregnancy, there is also increased laxity of the abdominal wall which includes the skin, muscles, and a dense fibrous layer covering the muscles called fascia. Although proper diet, a healthy lifestyle, and exercise can help tone and create a fit mid-section, sometimes the combination of fat deposition and laxity of the abdominal wall make this goal impossible to achieve through those means alone.
Is A Tummy Tuck For You?
The frustration of trying to deal with a lax abdominal wall through exercise and diet alone has been experienced by many. Patients who experience this problem and are otherwise healthy are good candidates for this operation. In the patient who is a candidate, a tummy tuck can address the following problems:
- a lax, loose abdominal wall including fascia, muscle or skin
- stretch marks in the lower half of the abdomen
- significant fat deposition in the abdominal wall under the skin
- a protruding abdomen out of proportion to the body which is caused by the above. (Sometimes a protruding abdomen can be caused by other conditions including fat deposits around the gastrointestinal organs (intra-abdominal fat) such as the stomach and the intestines. A tummy-tuck will not be able to correct this type of abdominal wall protrusion).
Understanding The Surgery
An abdominoplasty is normally a 2 1/2 to a 4-hour procedure which is done under general anesthesia in a hospital, surgery center, or office-based surgical facility. Most surgeons prefer the patient to stay in the hospital the night of the surgery.
To perform the surgery, a horizontal incision is made on the lower part of the abdomen just above the pubic region. Another incision is made around the belly button to separate it temporarily from the rest of the abdominal skin. Although the belly-button is separated from the adjacent abdominal skin, it is left attached to the fascia. The belly-button will later be reattached to the abdominal skin, once this is placed in its final position. Most surgeons will employ the use of drains (tubes placed under the abdominal skin which is meant to drain any fluid collection in this potential space).
What To Expect After Surgery
Post-surgery, you will also most likely be wearing a compressive corset (abdominal binder) around your lower abdomen.
You will usually be sent home from the hospital on the first or second day after the surgery. Although you can anticipate some discomfort, there might be more of a feeling of tightness than pain, and this is usually managed very easily with moderate pain medications that you take by mouth. You will probably feel more comfortable wearing the abdominal binder as this will provide more support while you perform normal daily activities. You will be asked not to participate in any strenuous physical activity for several weeks after the surgery, but you should be able to resume normal activities including going back to work within the first one to two weeks. Over the course of the first few weeks, there will be some swelling at the surgical site which will slowly resolve. There will also be some numbness of the abdominal skin which will also slowly resolve.
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The New You
The changes in abdominal contour due to this operation will become evident soon after the operation. Not only will they be easily visible despite the initial swelling, but you will also feel the abdominal wall much tighter than before. Your clothes will fit much better, and you will have a much more youthful and fit mid-torso. Once the scar fully matures, it will become a very fine line, which will not be readily evident. The tummy tuck operation offers a long-lasting effect which will greatly rejuvenate your midsection for many years to come, as long as you maintain a sensible and healthy lifestyle.
Maintaining Your Results
While tummy tuck results are long-lasting, there are certain lifestyle choices you can make that will extend your results. Before even making the decision to get a tummy tuck, youâll want to think about your lifestyle, and if you are a woman you will want to consider whether or not you plan to have or have more children.
Having the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle after a tummy tuck will prevent any dramatic weight gain that could affect your results. As for women who plan to have more children, pregnancy would stretch out the skin and muscles of the stomach. This stretching of tissue and muscle would reverse your results. For best results, patients should wait until they are at a stable weight and done having children for the most long-lasting results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get pregnant after a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck does not alter your ability to get pregnant. However, you should wait at least six months after your surgery before getting pregnant.
Will I have scars after a tummy tuck?
Tummy tucks result in horizontal scars across the lower abdomen. These should be hidden under clothing, including swim suits, and are similar to C-section scars.
Will I need drains after a tummy tuck?
Drains are often placed after a tummy tuck procedure. These can be removed after the first few days of healing.