A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is when an incision is made above the pubis (pubic region) within the underwear line to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen. In addition, tightening of the abdominal muscles by plication or imbrication (folding or overlapping) is performed. The skin and underlying fat are released from the abdomen and the excess tissue is removed and discarded.

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Are You a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?

iStock_000019417715smA common question we receive here at Perimeter Plastic Surgery is who is considered a good candidate for a tummy tuck surgery. The first and most important factor when being considered for this procedure is good overall health and a generally healthy lifestyle. This includes a proper diet, an appropriate exercise regimen, and avoiding smoking cigarettes. Ideally, candidates should be at a healthy weight as well, which means staying within 25 pounds of your ideal weight.

Because the tummy tuck procedure involves removing loose skin, you should be as close as possible to your weight loss goal before the surgery is performed. If you are over your ideal weight, we advise you to lose as much of this extra weight as you can prior to the surgery for enhanced results and less risk of complications. A healthy weight loss program combined with an exercise regimen best tailored to your body’s needs and goals is the best way to lose the proper amount of weight before a tummy tuck procedure.

What a tummy tuck is—and isn’t

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure to tighten the abdominal muscles and remove sagging or loose skin after extreme weight fluctuations or childbirth, or due to normal aging. In most cases, a tummy tuck will help to restore weakened or separated muscles, resulting in a firm and smooth abdominal profile. This helps patients regain a more youthful appearance.

A tummy tuck is not weight loss surgery, nor is it able to remove fat deposited deep within the abdominal cavity. Patients who are in an unhealthy weight range are generally not considered good candidates for a tummy tuck or even liposuction (the cosmetic surgery used to remove fat deposits) because neither procedure is an alternative to weight loss.

At Perimeter Plastic Surgery, we perform both full and mini tummy tucks. If you only have a small amount of fat or loose skin between the belly button and the pubic region, a mini tummy tuck might be the best procedure for you. Full tummy tucks are performed when the patient has excess skin above the belly button.

The ideal tummy tuck candidate

Tummy tucks work best for patients who have reached their goal weight before surgery. In addition, ideal female candidates have finished having children. This surgery is not recommended for women who may become pregnant down the road. There is are considerable risks to have a tummy tuck re-done if you become pregnant and have more children after the procedure. If you are thinking about getting pregnant in the next couple years, Dr. Deutsch recommends you schedule your tummy tuck surgery at least 3 to 6 months after the last baby is born.

If you’re in good shape and are concerned with loose skin and excess fat around the abdomen, a tummy tuck may be a good procedure for you. Your next step should be to consult with your board certified plastic surgeon.

How is a tummy tuck performed?

Tummy tuck procedures are performed under general anesthesia. Dr. Deutsch begins the surgery by making an incision just above the pubic hairline, making every effort to keep these incisions hidden (although the exact length of the incision will be determined by the amount of excess skin). Dr. Deutsch then tightens and repairs the weakened underlying muscle, before removing excess skin, tissue and fat. In some cases, liposuction may be done as well. The final step is closing the incisions to complete the surgery. The entire procedure requires anywhere from two to four hours from start to finish.

Recovery and results

tummy tuckAfter abdominoplasty, patients usually return home after a brief stay in the recovery area. Bruising and pain is normal, but should resolve over the first several weeks. Some residual swelling may last three months or longer. A moderate level pain may be experienced, and Dr. Deutsch will prescribe appropriate medications to keep patients resting and recuperating comfortably at home. Drain tubes are normally used to alleviate an accumulation of fluid; these are removed within the first week. An abdominal binder or other post-surgical compression garment is worn for support for at least two weeks to support the abdomen and help to decrease swelling.

Most patients find they’re able to return to work within 1 to 3 weeks following surgery, although Dr. Deutsch recommends refraining from vigorous activity and exercise for 4 to 6 weeks, and no heavy lifting (of more than 10 lbs) for the first 6 weeks.

As swelling decreases, the full benefits of the abdominoplasty procedure will gradually become visible. While scars from an abdominoplasty are usually concealed by underwear or bathing suits, they will flatten and fade over time, becoming far less noticeable after just a few months.

After undergoing a tummy tuck procedure, it is possible to experience twinges of pain for up to a year following the surgery. However, “patients who have the underlying muscle tightened could develop muscle spasms or even a tear of the tissue with exertion, but this is usually within the first several months after surgery,” Dr. Deutsch says. If you do experience pain following a tummy tuck, Dr. Deutsch advises you have your physician examine you to determine the cause. Still, serious complications after a tummy tuck are uncommon.

Most patients are thrilled with the results. “I have patients who have lost a lot of weight on their own and come in to get rid of the extra, loose skin, and after the surgery they are ecstatic about their new look,” says Dr. Deutsch. “It can be very rewarding and even necessary for some people.”

If you are ready to explore your options for getting a firmer, flatter and better-proportioned abdomen, please call our office at 404-255-0886 or complete the online contact form to schedule a consultation. Plastic surgeon Dr. Deutsch will be happy to discuss your goals and concerns, and help you decide if a tummy tuck is right for you.

4 Reasons to Get a Tummy Tuck Now

  • Compression garments can be easily worn under bulky clothing
  • You’ll heal just in time for bikini season
  • We’re accepting financing through Alphaeon and CareCredit
  • Liposuction of the flanks is included in the surgery

In a full abdominoplasty, the umbilicus is released in order to release excess tissue above the belly button. In this case, the umbilicus is brought through a small incision in the abdominal tissue, which has not been pulled down to meet the incision at the pubis once the excess had been removed.

Dr. Deutsch can also perform a mini abdominoplasty, which does not include releasing the umbilicus (belly button). A good candidate for tummy tuck surgery only has excess skin and fat below the belly button.

Liposuction of the flanks is often combined with both the mini and the full abdominoplasty. Two drains are placed at the time of surgery and stay in a week on average.

Patients that undergo tummy tuck surgery are prescribed pain relievers, muscle relaxants and antibiotics. They are placed in an abdominal binder. Patients may need to remain slightly flexed at the waist the first week or two because of tightness. View before and after photos of a tummy tuck/abdominoplasty.

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