Loose, unsightly bulges in the waist and tummy area are a common problem in women, especially after childbirth. Many men also experience sagging skin, or some may have exercise-resistant fat deposits around the stomach or abdominal area. This condition occurs due to loss of skin elasticity, weakening of the abdominal muscles caused by certain factors like aging, sudden weight loss, and bariatric surgery and pregnancy.
These problems can only be resolved through the surgery called “Tummy Tuck” or “Abdominoplasty.” This procedure involves surgical removal of excess skin and underlying fat and tightening of abdominal muscles to provide a contoured abdominal profile. Stretch marks in the lower abdomen can also be reduced dramatically by this procedure.
- This procedure helps achieve the desired tummy shape as it involves liposuction that removes fat, and surgical excision of loose hanging skin.
- Abdominal muscles can be strengthened and tightened through a tummy tuck that reduces back pain because it helps the patient to stand up a little straighter.
- The weakened abdominal muscles trigger ventral hernias. This condition can be overcome by combining appendectomy (to treat hernias) with a tummy tuck procedure.
- The improved abdominal profile reinvigorates people’s tolerance for physical activities like exercise, walking, running, and aerobics.
Anesthesia: The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia.
Duration: Short duration, no admission required.
Procedure: The procedure involves excision of excess skin along with underlying tissue and repositioning of the umbilicus. Depending on the extent of laxity, the procedure can be a mini-abdominoplasty where the umbilicus is not repositioned, total abdominoplasty with the recreation of the umbilicus, or an extended tummy tuck. The final scar following surgery is hidden in the panty line, as in a caesarean section.
Post Operative Care
- Drains are left in place for half-a-week, and the patient requires a rest of a week to a fortnight.
- Exercise and weight lifting are contraindicated in the initial few weeks. A compression garment must be worn at all times for this period.
- The patient should take plenty of rest and consume a balanced diet.
- Do not consume blood-thinning medications for a few days after the surgery as advised by the surgeon.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for about 6-8 weeks after the surgery.
- Avoid shower for about 48 hours after the treatment.
- Maintain good hygiene.
- Do not rub or scratch the treated area.
People have different reasons for undergoing tummy tuck surgery. The surgeon will decide the type of tummy tuck according to the need of the patient. The surgery provides desired natural-looking results with minimal scarring. There are following types of tummy tucks:
1. Mini-Tummy Tuck
This procedure involves less extensive surgery to improve only the lower belly. So, this procedure is the best option for people who want to treat loose skin and stretch marks on the lower belly area. During this procedure, a single cut is created just above the pubic area that triggers the tightening of loose muscles and removal of excess skin and provides a smooth and flat abdominal wall. This procedure results in a scar that looks like a thin horizontal line. It helps provide a flatter, slimmer lower abdomen. This procedure is quick, with less recovery time.
2. Classic or Full Tummy Tuck
This method helps improve both upper and lower areas of the abdomen. This method is best for people who are facing excess skin folds or roundness. A full tummy tuck addresses the overall abdominal wall and provides the best results. During this procedure, a U-shaped or horizontal cut is made on the upper area of the pubic mound that removes excess skin and tightens the abdominal muscles. A second cut can be created for removing excess skin from the upper belly button to give natural-looking results. This procedure results in the scar that appears similar to a mini-tummy tuck. However, it may be longer and present from hip to hip.
3. Extended Tummy Tuck
This procedure helps improve the upper and lower abdominal flanks. This procedure is best for the people who have excess sagging skin due to excess weight loss and for the women who have abdominal muscles with less elasticity due to multiple pregnancies. During this procedure, long incisions are created to remove excess saggy skin from the upper and lower abdomen as well as the flanks and also tighten the abdominal wall.
Liposuction is beneficial for people who have fat deposits in their abdomen or other parts of their bodies but have good skin elasticity. But, if a person has excess hanging skin in the abdomen area abdominoplasty is the right procedure for them.
A person who has weak pectoral muscles following childbirths or massive weight loss requires an abdominoplasty and not liposuction alone. These procedures are often performed in conjunction to achieve optimum body contouring.
People with good health and who are non-smokers are ideal candidates for this procedure.
People who have realistic expectations from this procedure.
People suffering from sagging skin that occurred after excess weight loss or obesity may undergo a tummy tuck.
This procedure is appropriate for people who have overhanging skin (pannus) that occurred due to aging.
Women planning for further pregnancies are not ideal for this procedure because this procedure also tightens the loose abdominal muscles. The future pregnancy will again make the skin loose, and abdominal muscles weak, so it is recommended to go for this surgery after completing the family.
This procedure is not appropriate for people who have had abdominal surgery
People who are heavy smokers are not ideal for this procedure
A tummy tuck requires excision of loose skin, mostly below the level of the navel. To achieve this, a surgeon needs to make an incision that is almost along the entire bikini line in front. However, the placement of the incisions is discussed with the patient pre-op so as to keep them hidden even in their most revealing garments.
One will require a hospital stay overnight after the procedure. Depending on the extent of the surgery and the comfort of the patient, the hospital stay may extend to 2 days post-op. Drains are placed during the surgery, which will be removed 3-4 days post-op. In the initial week to 10 days, the patient will be advised to avoid standing up straight and walk with a slight stoop to avoid strain on the suture line.
The recovery period for abdominoplasty is a minimum of 2 weeks. After this period, most people can return to work. A compression garment needs to be worn for a period of 3 to 6 weeks. Strenuous activities like weight lifting, jogging, and aerobics are restricted during this period.
The results are permanent. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding fluctuations in weight are essential to maintain the longevity of results.
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