Tummy Tuck (or Abdominoplasty)
Are sit-ups and other abdominal exercises not giving you the taut and flatter tummy you want? Perhaps child-bearing has left your stomach in a different condition than it was prior to giving birth. Childbearing can stretch the skin of the abdomen and separate the abdominal muscles. These problems are often not improved by exercise and require surgical treatment to reverse. You may consider scheduling a consult for a “tummy tuck,” or abdominoplasty procedure, and learning how Dr. Mirabile and Dr. Hsu can flatten the abdomen by removing extra fat and skin, and tightening the muscles of your abdominal wall.
An effective way of eliminating the excess skin created after childbirth or dramatic weight loss, the tummy tuck procedure, also known as abdominoplasty, has been developed by plastic surgeons and used by Dr. Mirabile and Dr. Hsu to tighten weak or collapsed stomach muscles and excise loose, excess skin and fatty deposits around the waistline. The results are a tighter, smaller waistline and a more contoured mid-section. This can help clothing fit better. The scar can often be hidden under a bathing suit. Patients generally return to work within 10-14 days.
Who Are the Best Candidates For a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is ideal for men and women in good health. A tummy tuck is also an option for men and women who were once overweight and still have residual fat deposits or loose skin around the abdomen. Women left with excess skin and weak abdominal muscles after childbirth are also excellent candidates for abdominoplasty surgery.
Who Should Not Consider a Tummy Tuck?
If you are a woman who is planning to become pregnant, then you will want to delay the tummy tuck procedure until after you’re done having children. During surgery, the vertical muscles of the abdomen are tightened. Pregnancy can separate those muscles and stretch abdominal skin. If you are planning to lose a lot of weight, then a tummy tuck should be postponed until you approach your ideal weight. You should also keep in mind the chance of scarring after a tummy tuck procedure. Dr. Mirabile and Dr. Hsu will be able to show you postoperative photos of patients who have had this procedure so you can view examples of scars.
How to Prepare for Tummy Tuck Surgery
The first step is to make an appointment with Dr. Mirabile or Dr. Hsu for a consultation. At that meeting, you will talk about your goals and the following options: If you smoke, Dr. Mirabile and Dr. Hsu will ask that you quit smoking for at least 4 weeks before surgery and 4 weeks after surgery. It is not enough to just cut down on smoking. You must stop completely, since smoking increases your risk of complications and negatively impacts your ability to heal. A nicotine patch also cannot be used.
- Full abdominoplasty: The surgeon will design an incision on your abdomen to remove excess skin and fatty tissue. The surgery will involve releasing your belly button, and you may need drainage tubes under your skin for a few days after surgery. Traditionally, this surgery includes liposuction of the abdomen and hips as well.
- Modified or mini-abdominoplasty: Modified or mini-abdominoplasties are often done on people whose fat deposits are located below the navel and who have only minimal excess skin above the navel. During this procedure, you may not have an incision around your belly button, although it may be moved to a more youthful position, depending on the primary location of your excess skin and the original position of your belly button. This procedure takes less time than a full abdominoplasty and allows for a quicker recovery. Modified and mini-tummy tucks traditionally include liposuction of the abdomen and hips.
We recommend against trying drastic diets before surgery. Eat well-balanced, complete meals. A healthy diet may help you heal better and will be more easily sustained after surgery. Be sure to tell our patient coordinators about everything you take, including prescription drugs, herbal medicines, and other supplements. Your surgeon may instruct you to stop taking certain medications for a period of time before and after surgery.
Before having surgery, get your home ready. You will need:
- Ice packs
- Loose, comfortable clothing that can be taken on and off very easily
- Pillows, or a recliner, to enable you to comfortably sleep in a flexed position
You will also need someone to drive you home after surgery and stay with you the evening after surgery. If you live alone, you will need someone to stay with you for at least the first night. Please plan accordingly.
How a Tummy Tuck is Done
This surgery can take anywhere from one to three hours. Many patients who undergo tummy tuck surgery also opt for other body contouring procedures such as liposuction or breast enhancement. You may need to stay overnight in the hospital, depending on the total length of your operation(s). You will get general anesthesia, which will put you to “sleep” during the operation.
You may experience aching and inflammation in the days following surgery. Your doctor will prescribe pain medicine and tell you how to best handle the pain. You may be sore for several weeks. You may also experience numbness, bruising, and fatigue during that time. As with any surgery, there are risks. Although they are rare, complications can include infection, bleeding under the skin flap, or blood clots. You may experience delayed wound healing, which can cause more significant scarring or loss of skin. If you do heal poorly, you may require a revision procedure.
A tummy tuck leaves scars. Although they may fade significantly, they will never completely disappear. Dr. Mirabile or Dr. Hsu may recommend certain topical gels or ointments to use after you are completely healed to help with scars. We also can treat scars with a number of lasers available in Dr. Mirabile and Dr. Hsu’s office.
Taking Care of Yourself after Surgery
Whether you are having a modified, mini, or full tummy tuck, the area that is operated on will be stitched and bandaged. It will be very important to follow all of Dr. Mirabile and Dr. Hsu’s instructions on how to care for the bandage in the days after surgery. The postoperative garment used will be a firm, elastic band that promotes compression and support to enable proper healing. Dr. Mirabile and Dr. Hsu will also instruct you on how to best position yourself, while sitting or laying down to help ease pain or discomfort.
You will begin stationary bicycle and elliptical machine exercises in 3-4 weeks. By 6 weeks, you will be able to resume all regular activities and being to incorporate your usual exercise regimens. You may need to take up to 2 weeks off from work after the surgery to ensure proper recovery. Dr. Mirabile and Dr. Hsu will advise you on what you need to do. Results may vary.
Returning to Daily Life
Most people love their new body after this procedure. It will take time to heal and to see your final results. Regular diet and exercise will also help you maintain your results.
Does Insurance Cover a Tummy Tuck?
Insurance companies generally do not cover cosmetic surgery.