Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty
Abdominoplasty, also called a “tummy tuck,” is a popular procedure used to flatten and shape the abdomen by removing excess belly fat and skin and tightening abdominal muscles. Dr. Hutchinson performs tummy tucks using different techniques designed to address each patient’s concerns and using the shortest scar possible. The vast majority of patients are delighted with the look of their new tight and flat stomachs after surgery under Dr. Hutchinson’s exceptional care.
There are several different types of abdominoplasty that may be performed, depending on the amount and location of loose skin, degree of fat deposits, and individual patient goals. These surgical methods range from the short scar, limited incision “mini” abdominoplasty that treats the area below the belly button, to the most extensive “full” abdominoplasty that addresses the entire abdomen. Specific features of each include the following:
- Mini abdominoplasty:
- uses shortest scar
- removes excess skin below belly button
- tightens the rectus muscles in lower abdomen
- Full abdominoplasty:
- requires longer scar across lower abdomen and around belly button
- removes loose skin from entire abdomen, both above and below belly button
- tightens rectus muscles along entire length of abdominal wall
Dr. Hutchinson takes the time during every pre-operative consultation to learn what patients want to achieve from a tummy tuck to improve both the appearance of their bodies and their self-esteem. By listening to their wishes and closely examining them rather than performing a one-size-fits-all procedure on everyone, she provides patients with a completely customized treatment that takes into account their specific goals and is designed to achieve the best and most natural results.
Candidates For Abdominoplasty
The best candidates for a tummy tuck are in good physical condition with loose abdominal skin and pockets of fat that haven’t responded to traditional diet and exercise. This procedure can also benefit patients whose abdominal skin has lost some of its elasticity, shows stretch marks, and sags.
Tummy tucks can also be useful for women with stretched skin and muscles from prior pregnancy. Results from the tummy tuck procedure, and in particular tightening the abdominal rectus muscles, will likely be affected if women become pregnant again, so patients who plan to continue with childbearing may wish to consider postponing abdominoplasty until they are done having children. Similarly, patients who intend to lose a significant amount of weight may prefer to wait before undergoing abdominoplasty, since skin in the abdominal area typically loosens after substantial weight loss. Patients who are considereing abdominoplasty should be in optimal medical condition to enjoy the quickest recovery and achieve the best results.
Tummy tucks take approximately 1 to 2 hours and are most often performed under general anesthesia. This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis, and may be combined with liposuction or other cosmetic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction, or as part of mommy makeover.
In order to perform a full abdominoplasty procedure, Dr. Hutchinson will make two incisions: one in the lower abdomen close to the pubic area, and another around the navel. She will separate the skin from the abdominal muscles, which are then pulled together and stitched into place for a firmer abdomen and narrower waist. The skin flap is then stretched down and over the newly tightened muscles, excess skin is removed, and the navel is reattached in a natural position. Finally, Dr. Hutchinson will close the incisions and apply sterile surgical dressings over the sutured areas. Mini abdominoplasty procedures may be performed without the need for an incision around the umbilicus. This procedure results in a shorter suprapubic scar and is designed for younger patients with less excess skin.
Recovery from Abdominoplasty
After tummy tuck surgery, an abdominal compression garment is worn and small flexible tubing may be inserted under the skin to drain excess fluid from the surgical site. Recovery time ranges depending on each individual patient and specific procedure, with most patients returning to normal activities after 2 weeks. You should limit strenuous activities for 2 weeks, and most patients need to take off from work for a few days. Dr. Hutchinson will give you specific instructions for your individual recovery. Following these instructions can help speed up your recovery and reduce the risk of any postoperative complications.
Results of Abdominoplasty
A tummy tuck leaves patients with a flatter, more toned abdominal area that fits the natural contours of your body. It can improve a patient’s appearance and confidence by helping them look and feel younger and slimmer. The results of this procedure are visible right away and will continue to improve. With a balanced diet and regular exercise, results are long-lasting. Scars will fade with time, leaving your stomach sleeker and more defined than ever before.
A tummy tuck will leave a scar limited to the lower abdomen, and Dr. Hutchinson specializes in using the shortest incision possible to produce each patient’s desired results. She will also place the incision low enough for the resultant scar to be well concealed within underwear or bikini bottom.
Risks of Abdominoplasty
Though rare, post-operative complications from any surgical procedure are possible. These may include infection, bleeding, unaesthetic scarring, and poor healing, which may require further surgery to be adequately treated.
Patients who have had previous abdominal surgery may have existing scars that could be affected by the tummy tuck procedure. In some patients with prior Caesarean section scars, the C-section scar may be removed at the time of abdominoplasty in order to produce a less conspicuous scar. If unsightly scars develop, treatment with topical products on the skin and scar revision procedures may help improve their final appearance.
The Abdominoplasty Patient’s Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Am I a good candidate for abdominoplasty?
A: Patients who are unhappy with the appearance of their belly may benefit from abdominoplasty to improve their abdominal contour if they have the following:
- loose abdominal skin after pregnancy or weight loss
- extra fat on their abdomen, around their waist, or along their flanks
- widened abdominal rectus muscles (called “diastasis”) after pregnancy in women or from visceral fat intra-abdominal fat in men
- an interest in body contouring for cosmetic purposes
Q: What should I expect during my abdominoplasty consultation?
A: Your initial consultation with Dr. Hutchinson includes the following:
- a comprehensive in-person discussion with Dr. Hutchinson during which she will obtain your medical history and you will have time to explain what bothers you about your belly and what results you hope to achieve with surgery
- after your conversation, you will be seen in a private examination room where she will perform a detailed physical examination and assess your unique physical characteristics
- she will also take medical photographs which provide additional information when discussing your abdominal plastic surgery
- following your examination, Dr. Hutchinson will explain surgical options, determine the best customized surgical plan for you to achieve your goals, and review your medical photographs with you
- Dr. Hutchinson will also provide you with specific details regarding the bespoke abdominal operation she creates for you as each patient’s plan is based on individual features and desired outcome
- she will also inform you of what is required from you before and after your surgery to ensure a successful operation and smooth recovery
- you will be given ample time to ask any questions you have in order to feel comfortable with your decision
- you will also have an opportunity to schedule your surgery once you have decided to proceed
Q: How will my belly look after my abdominoplasty surgery?
A: Abdominoplasty is a plastic surgery method of abdominal contouring for both men and women to address loose skin and fat in the belly and produce a tighter, more shapely abdomen. In order to help you understand what results are attainable with your tummy tuck, Dr. Hutchinson will discuss with you specific details of your current abdominal physical characteristics. Factors that may impact your results include the following:
- the amount of loose, excess skin that needs to be removed
- degree of separation of abdominal rectus muscles (diastasis)
- location of extra fat that can be treated
- quality, tone, and elasticity of abdominal skin, including presence of stretch marks
- amount of fat under the skin (rather than inside the abdomen) contributing to your appearance
- presence of hernia at the navel (umbilical hernia)
- prior surgery of the abdomen, including general surgery operations such as hernia repair
- existing scars on or around the belly
Q: How should I prepare for my abdominoplasty surgery?
A: Dr. Hutchinson provides her patients with detailed and precise instructions to be followed prior to their tummy tuck, which include the following:
- Dr. Hutchinson will make recommendations for each patient including:
- advice on appropriate weight management, diet, and nutrition
- preoperative imaging studies such as abdominal ultrasound or CT scan
- requirements for medical clearance and bloodwork prior to surgery
- patients should be active participants in optimizing their wellness, including:
- maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise
- avoiding smoking
- not taking medications that can increase risk of complications
Q: What should I expect after my abdominoplasty surgery?
A: Every patient will have their own personal experience and recovery after abdominoplasty, although some common aspects of their post-operative course include the following:
- removal of loose skin and fat cells is immediate and permanent
- some discomfort, swelling, and bruising are normal in the first few days after surgery
- if drains are used, they are usually removed 1-3 days after surgery
- you should wear the compression garment provided to speed recovery
- it is essential you refrain from strenuous physical activity after surgery and closely follow the detailed instructions provided by Dr. Hutchinson
- final results depend on your body healing and your skin recontouring after the operation