|Most of us know someone who has had a tummy tuck. Anyone over 40 who has had children and experienced the sagging middle leftover from the effort knows all too well the desire to recover our pre-children shape. Unfortunately, the information about tummy tucks, its side effects, and other considerations is hard to come by.
We carefully researched the tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) procedure so that you can get an overview. This information is only that--information. This information is not a substitute for consulting with your physician, researching a prospective surgeon carefully, and using plain old common sense.
General guidelines for determining the success of a tummy tuck are many. The best candidates are men or women who:
- Are in relatively good shape but have a large fat deposit or loose abdominal skin that won't respond to diet and exercise
- Have stretched abdominal muscles resulting from childbirth
- Have skin that has stretched to the point where it cannot return to normal
- Have lost elasticity of the skin due to aging or weight loss
Things to seriously consider when planning for tummy tuck surgery include careful discussion of the consequences, short- and long-term prognoses for the procedure, and risks. Some more things to remember when considering this surgery:
- You should wait to have this procedure if you are still losing weight
- You should wait to have this procedure if you are still considering pregnancy
- You should take into consideration the fact that while aesthetic improvement can help your self-esteem, it will not make people treat you differently
The risks of tummy tuck surgery is the same as with most surgical procedures. The risks of the surgery must be carefully considered. Be sure to discuss these risks with your physician. The risks may include:
- Anesthesia related complications
- Blood clots
- Poor healing resulting in conspicuous scarring
The procedure itself is fairly easy to understand. In general terms, the procedure is conducted as follows:
- A general anesthesia or local anesthesia is started to ease pain and relax you
- A long incision is made from hipbone to hipbone just above the pubic area
- A second incision is made to release the navel from the surrounding tissue
- The skin is separated from the abdominal wall all the way up to your ribs
- A large skin flap is lifted to reveal the vertical abdominal muscles
- The muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into the new position
- The skin flap is stretched down and the extra skin is removed
- A new hole is cut for your navel
- The navel is stitched into place
- The incisions are stitched
- Dressings are applied and a temporary tube might be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site
The recovery period will last for a few days during which your abdomen will be swollen and some pain and discomfort might be experienced. Hospitalization for recovery depends upon the type of procedure and extent of the surgery. You can expect an average hospital stay of 2-3 days.
After you return home, you have to follow doctor's instructions for showering and changing the dressings. It is recommended you begin walking as soon as possible.
After 5-7 days, the doctor will remove the surface stitches. The remaining sutures that protrude through the skin are removed in 2-3 weeks. After removing the internal sutures, the doctor may recommend you wear a support garment.
While you might be able to return to work after just a couple of weeks, many patients need 4-5 weeks recovery before returning to their normal routine. Exercise helps healing and is recommended to reduce blood clots and tone muscles.
The scars will worsen during the first six months, becoming darker and more pronounced. This is normal. After nine to twelve months, the scars will lighten and flatten and become less noticeable. Keep in mind, however, that the scar will always be visible. Although, due to its location, even in a bathing suit, nobody will see it.