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A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a procedure that removes excess fat and skin while restoring weakened or separated muscles to help create a smoother and more firm abdominal profile.
Patients may desire this procedure because of their overall dissatisfaction with their appearance. This may be the result:
- Past surgery
- Added weight
The results of tummy tuck surgery are usually permanent. However, the results may be lost if the patient goes through significant fluctuations in weight after the surgery. If a patient is considering losing a considerable amount of weight or is not finished having children, it may be best to postpone the surgery.
Why Choose Tummy Tuck
An ideal candidate for tummy tuck surgery is someone who is physically active, does not see their weight easily fluctuate, does not smoke, and would like to have a better abdominal appearance.
Understanding Tummy Tuck Procedures
There are two different types of tummy tuck procedures: complete abdominoplasty and partial abdominoplasty. For a complete abdominoplasty, the surgeon will cut the abdomen from hipbone to hipbone and then contour the skin, tissue, and muscle as needed. A partial abdominoplasty is mostly performed on people who have fat deposits located below the navel. During this procedure, the surgeon most likely will not move the belly button, and the procedure may only take up to two hours.
During tummy tuck surgery, the surgeon will use anesthesia to make the patient as comfortable as possible. This may be done either intravenously or by general anesthesia. The patient remains conscious during intravenous anesthesia but will not feel pain. General anesthesia affects the whole body and induces loss of consciousness.
After anesthesia, the surgeon will make a horizontal incision in the area between the pubic hairline and the belly button. The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the amount of excess skin that is present. After the incision, the skin is lifted and the underlying weakened abdominal muscles are repaired. It is possible that a second incision around the navel may be necessary to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen. Any excess skin is then trimmed and the remaining skin is stitched together. A new opening for the belly button is created and the incision is closed up by way of skin adhesives or sutures.
After the surgery, small tubes may be placed under the skin to help drain excess blood that may be in the area. For the first few days after the surgery, the patient should remain in bed with their knees elevated. The elevation serves to expand the lungs which decrease the chances of lung complications while also relaxing the skin on the stomach.
It is likely that a compression garment will be issued to help decrease swelling and prevent the accumulation of fluids.
After about a week, the muscle layer will be better connected to the skin layer which should allow the patient to move around more easily. Movement will get the muscles moving while expanding the lungs. Real recovery will start in the third week when the compression garment is no longer required at all times.
A patient should plan on taking at least 3 weeks off with no driving during the initial recovery period.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the national average cost of tummy tuck surgery is $5,493. The cost can vary depending on a surgeon’s experience, the type of procedure used, the type of anesthesia used and other expenses.
Tummy tuck surgery is cosmetic and is not covered by health insurance programs.
Risks of Tummy Tuck
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing or scarring
- Change in skin sensation including numbness and pain
- Skin loss
- Skin discoloration
- Persistent pain
- Possibility of the need for additional surgery
These and other risks should be fully discussed prior to a patient giving their consent. It is important that the patient and surgeon address all questions and concerns prior to the surgery.
Malpractice and Tummy Tuck Surgery
Even though tummy tuck surgery is a relatively common procedure, surgical mistakes with lifelong consequences happen from time to time. If your cosmetic surgery was mishandled by a health care provider, call our offices for a free consultation.