Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
Tummy Tuck – Overview
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a major plastic surgery procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. The procedure can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen. If your fat deposits are limited to the area below the navel, you may require a less complex procedure called a partial abdominoplasty; also know as a mini-tummy tuck. One of the least talked about benefits of an abdominal tuck is the “lift” that is gained in the vagina area.
Dr. Caridi’s Take
There is nothing more powerful than a tummy tuck to address loose abdominal fascia and excess skin seen in many women who have been pregnant or those who have lost a lot of weight. The trade-off for this procedure is a hip to hip scar on the lower part of the abdomen and one around the belly button. Many patients believe they only need a “mini-tuck”, when, in fact, they need a full tuck. Liposuction is usually needed at the time of a tummy tuck in order to obtain the best result. The recovery from a tummy tuck is not as “bad” as people are led to believe it is.
It takes an experienced surgeon with a good artistic eye to know which option to choose for each patient (liposuction, full tuck, mini tuck, floating tuck or nothing). Visit with several surgeons to know you are choosing the best for you.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
General anesthesia or local anesthesia combined with IV sedation for a mini tuck at the discretion of our anesthesiologist.
Temporary pain, swelling, soreness, numbness of abdominal skin, bruising, and fatigue for several weeks. Much less common complications include blood clots, infection, bleeding under the skin flap, poor healing resulting in conspicuous scarring or skin loss, and the need for a second operation.
Recovery From A Tummy Tuck
For the first few days after your procedure, your abdomen will be swollen, and you will experience pain and discomfort that can be controlled by oral medication. We also infiltrate numbing medication in the abdominal fascia that helps reduce discomfort considerably. All patients are sent home the day of their procedure. Though you may not be able to stand straight at first, you should start walking as soon as possible. As the tightness softens over the week, you will walk normally. In healthy motivated patients, recovery usually lasts two weeks at most. Many patients return to work after one week and resume exercise in three or four weeks depending on their tolerance. It’s important to remain slightly flexed at your waist in order to be most comfortable and reduce the tension on your repair. Mild swelling can persist on the lower abdomen for 6 to 8 weeks. Drains are usually inserted at your procedure and will remain for about 5 days.
Heavy lifting is avoided for the first two weeks (25 pounds or more). Extra help will be beneficial for the first seven to ten days particularly if there are young children around (Having your mom around or other family is really special). Sleeping in the flexed position for the first week or so will provide extra comfort. A recliner or hospital bed (rented) has come in quite handy for many patients.
Your scars may actually appear to worsen during the first three to six months as they heal, but this is normal. Expect it to take nine months to a year before your scars flatten out and lighten in color. It is recommended that you use silicone scar strips on your incisions for at least six months afterwards in order to ensure the finest scar. This must be worn for at least 12 hours a day. We encourage patients to wear store bought compression garments for several months after the procedure for swelling control, general comfort and scar softening.
*Please note that abdominoplasty scars always look worse in photographs than in real life. Also, most post operative photos are taken at four months when scars have not yet fully matured. Complaints about an abdominoplasty scar are uncommon.