Abdominoplasty, known more commonly as a “tummy tuck,” is a major surgical 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. But bear in mind, it does produce a permanent scar, which, depending on the extent of the original problem and the surgery required to correct it, can extend from hip to hip.
A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is an operation performed to improve the shape and contour of your tummy. The operation can remove excess skin, unwanted scars, stretch marks, fat, and can tighten the stomach muscles. There are a variety of different abdominoplasty procedures and depending on your particular problem(s), the operation will be individualized and tailored to suit you.
Younger patients who have not been pregnant before, who have good quality elastic skin and whose main problem is an excess of fat, are best suited to simple liposuction of the tummy. These patients typically have a slight excess of fat in the lower tummy. Liposuction of the tummy is usually performed under sedation and local anesthesia, although general anesthesia may be used. These cases are usually performed as outpatient surgery. Often, other areas are also treated with liposuction simultaneously. Small incisions are made, excess fat is removed and the wounds closed. Not only will fat be removed, but some degree of skin tightening or shrinkage can be expected as well.
Slightly older or middle-aged patients who might have had previous pregnancies (causing the muscles below the belly button to splay apart a little) and who have a slight excess of skin and fat, especially below the belly button, may be best suited for a mini-tummy tuck. A mini tummy tuck is usually performed under local anesthesia and sedation, although general anesthesia can be used. Surgery is usually done as day case surgery. A wedge or ellipse of skin and fat is excised from the lower tummy leaving a scar horizontally above the pubic hair, similar to the scar from a Caesarian Section. In addition, liposuction is performed of the upper tummy and waist and the muscles below the belly button are tightened. No scar is left around the belly button which is stretched slightly to become more elongated and generally more appealing.
Some patients have an even greater degree of skin laxity, excess fat, and splaying of the muscles. These patients require a classic tummy tuck. This operation is usually performed under general anesthesia and usually requires hospitalization of 2-3 days. An incision is made from hip to hip and around the belly button. A large wedge of skin and fat is excised from above the belly button to just above the pubic hair. Some areas may be treated with liposuction and the muscles above and below the belly button are tightened. Although this operation does leave the biggest scar, it does provide the greatest degree of improvement in shape. Patients still planning pregnancies should wait until the completion of their family.
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are men or women who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by a large fat deposit or loose abdominal skin that won’t respond to diet or exercise. The surgery is particularly helpful to women who, through multiple pregnancies, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients, which frequently occurs with slight obesity, can also be improved.
Patients who intend to lose a lot of weight should postpone the surgery. Also, women who plan future pregnancies should wait, as vertical muscles in the abdomen that are tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy. If you have scarring from previous abdominal surgery, your doctor may recommend against abdominoplasty or may caution you that scars could be unusually prominent.
The Abdominoplasty or “Tummy Tuck” is designed to remove excess abdominal skin and fat, as well as tighten loose abdominal muscles. The perfect candidate is a woman with prior pregnancies, which have stretched her abdominal muscles past the point of repair by standard exercise. Poor candidates are those who are obese and simply have too much abdominal fat. Liposuction can be an alternative in these patients.