An abdominoplasty, commonly known as a “tummy tuck”, is a procedure that eliminates excess fat and skin, and in most cases, also restores separated or weakened muscles for a smooth abdominal profile. Even with exercise and dieting, achieving an abdomen that is flat and toned can still be a challenge. A tummy tuck can remove loose or sagging skin commonly caused by heredity, prior surgery, aging, fluctuation in weight, or pregnancy.
Why Should I Get a Tummy Tuck?
The front part of the abdominal wall is made up of a thin inner lining, a thicker layer of muscle, and a layer of fat covered by abdominal skin. There are a variety of different factors that can play a role in the shape and consistency of the abdominal wall. As part of aging, laxity of the muscle wall continues to progress unless exercise levels remain quite high.
Since the abdominal muscles loosen, bulging may occur, which can be made worse with excessive weight gain. Although a tummy tuck is not a substitute for appropriate exercise or dieting, it can reposition structures that have been stretched or displaced to improve the contour of the abdomen.
About the Procedure
A tummy tuck typically takes anywhere between 2 to 4 hours and can also be combined with liposuction for the best possible contouring. For a tummy tuck to be performed properly, the underlying framework must first be addressed.
- Fat and skin must be lifted off of the abdominal wall.
- The muscles are then tightened and repositioned.
- The large apron of abdominal skin is pulled down tightly, and the excess is removed
You should be able to return to work in 1 to 2 weeks following your procedure.
- Bruising typically lasts up to 2 to 4 weeks.
- Swelling will be moderate-to-significant for up to 4 weeks, with some mild swelling possibly lasting an additional 2 to 3 months.
- A support garment may need to be worn following the procedure for up to 3 to 4 weeks.
- Resume exercise only at 1/3 intensity after 3 weeks and 2/3 intensity at 6 weeks. Limit exercise to low impact activities at 1/3 of normal duration, repetitions, weight, and pulse rate. Full intensity workouts, including high impact activities (running, horse back riding, high-impact aerobics) can be resumed at 8 weeks.
- Scar fading and improvement will occur gradually over time, with most major scar tissue healing in the 6 to 8 weeks following surgery. Scar tissue will continue to mature and fade for up to 24 months.
- Other possible side effects may include temporary pain, swelling, soreness, numbness of abdominal skin, bruising, and fatigue for several weeks following your procedure.
When Will I Start to Notice Results From My Procedure?
Initially, you may not see the results of your tummy tuck right away due to swelling and not having the ability to stand completely upright while internal healing is taking place. Within 1 to 2 weeks after your surgery, you should begin to see your slimmer new profile.
Ibuprofen and/or prescription pain medicines should be used following the procedure to aid with any discomfort. You may also need to wear a support garment for up to one month.
You should expect 3 to 5 follow-up office visits in the first 3 months following your procedure. The first will be scheduled at 3-5 days, with the second visit at 7-10 days. Following the first 3 months, office visits will only need to be conducted yearly.
During your first consultation, our surgeons will:
- Go over your past medical history in addition to your desired results.
- Extensively review important information regarding abdominoplasty.
- Examine your torso and recommend the best possible course of action.
The initial consultation is also the time to address any questions or concerns you may have about abdominoplasty. We will discuss your surgical options as well as the anticipated results based on your specific case.
Before Your Abdominoplasty
It is the responsibility of our nurse and office manager to make any scheduling arrangements and to provide you with those specific instructions. Every attempt will be made to accommodate your requests.
At Boulder Plastic Surgery, we spanly believe that good general health is essential to optimal recovery. If you are currently taking any medications or supplements, be sure to notify your doctor, as they could cause adverse effects during your procedure.
We have developed a three phase healing program that you will begin prior to your surgery. This program involves:
- Removing anything from your diet that could increase bleeding or interfere with anesthesia.
- Taking nutrients after the surgery that will minimize inflammation and pain as well as detoxify the anesthesia or other medications you have taken.
- Adding healing nutrients that promote a quick and optimal recovery.
In addition to beginning the three phase healing program, you will also undergo routine laboratory tests, which include an electrocardiogram for those over the age of 50, a pregnancy test if applicable, and blood counts and blood chemistries. These tests detect the presence of abnormalities that may affect the surgery or anesthesia.
The Day of Surgery
Before moving to the operating room, you will be asked to stand briefly so that the surgeon can mark the surgical site as a guideline for the procedure. The operation is performed using a general anesthetic.
Once the procedure is complete, you will be transferred for observation to a recovery area. After being observed for a few hours following the surgery, you will be allowed to leave with a friend or family member who will drive you home and stay with you the night of the procedure.
After Your Abdominoplasty
Mandatory downtime is required with abdominoplasty to make sure you heal properly. Gradually, the initial swelling and bruising will resolve. The abdomen will continue to heal over a period of 6 to 12 months.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact our office right away:
- Extreme swelling or tenderness
- Elevation of temperature to 101 degrees or above
- Redness at the incision lines
- Prolonged or significant bleeding from the incision lines (A small amount of drainage is normal for the first 24 hours.)
As with all cosmetic surgical procedures, there are some risks involved with a tummy tuck.
- It is possible to have side effects caused by drugs administered during the surgery, although severe side effects are very rare.
- Sedation and anesthesia always pose a risk, but those cases are also very rare.
- It is rare for infection to occur, but as a precaution, patients are given antibiotics immediately prior to and following the surgery to minimize the risk.
- Bleeding may occur following the procedure. If this happens, it is typically within the first 24 hours after your tummy tuck. Significant bleeding occurs in less than 1 percent of cases, but if it does patients will return to the operation room to stop any bleeding.
- Since skin and fat are lifted off of underlying muscles, and that skin is tightly stretched to achieve desired results, blood supply may be compromised to the area, leading to small areas of skin loss. Generally, this appears as a tiny, crusted area that runs along the lower abdominal incision. This occurs in less than 5 percent of patients, and simply keeping the area clean and letting it heal is usually all that is required.
- There is also the possibility of blood clots forming in the legs and moving to the lungs. This serious and sometimes life-threatening issue is rare, but we suggest early mobility to decrease the risk.
The cost of a tummy tuck can vary substantially based on the patient and the desired results. The estimated cost is between $8,500 to $10,000, which does include the cost of the surgeon, anesthesia, and operating room.
“What can I say? You’re awesome! Thanks to you and your staff for taking good care of me and for always being so welcoming.” – CM