Often, individuals who have lost a massive amount of weight — whether due to pregnancy, bariatric surgery or intensive weight loss efforts — are disappointed to find that they still do not have the firm abdominal profile they desire. For these individuals, the body contouring plastic surgeons at the Plastic Surgery Group offer abdominoplasty (tummy tuck).
Extreme fluctuations in weight such as the ones caused by pregnancy or major weight loss following bariatric surgery can leave individuals with loose abdominal skin that has lost its elasticity and therefore cannot shrink back to a smaller shape or size after the weight loss. In addition, pregnancy can leave mothers with severely damaged or even separated abdominal muscles that cannot be toned. Once these developments occur, no amount of diet and exercise can restore a firm, flat midsection. Surgical intervention is necessary to repair the damage. Fortunately, the board-certified plastic surgeons at the Plastic Surgery Group have extensive experience performing abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck surgery. With tummy tuck surgery, the plastic surgeon eliminates excess skin and fat from the abdomen before repairing the underlying musculature, resulting in the toned tummy patient’s desire.
Although tummy tuck surgery can improve the contour of the abdominal area, it is not intended as a tool for major weight loss. Instead, many patients opt for tummy tuck surgery after they have lost a massive amount of weight with bariatric, or weight loss, surgery. The aesthetic results of tummy tuck surgery can be negatively affected if the patient regains a substantial amount of weight following the procedure. For this reason, patients must be at or slightly above their ideal bodyweight. They must be confident they can maintain this weight after surgery, over the long run. Also, the plastic surgeon will advise women who plan to get pregnant in the future to postpone undergoing tummy tuck surgery until they are finished having children. Tummy tuck surgery will not necessarily improve the look of stretch marks on the abdomen. That being said, if stretch marks are present on the excess skin to be removed during surgery, especially stretch marks located on the skin of the lower abdomen (below the navel), they may be removed along with the extra skin that is excised. Residual stretch marks that are not excised with abdominoplasty may be less noticeable once the skin has been pulled taut during the procedure. There are other non-invasive options offered at the Plastic Surgery Group that may be helpful in treating the remaining stretch marks.
Keeping the above factors in mind, appropriate tummy tuck candidates generally include individuals who:
Also, appropriate tummy tuck candidates have an overall positive body image, as well as realistic expectations for the cosmetic results of surgery (i.e., they seek aesthetic improvement, not perfection). Finally, suitable candidates for tummy tuck surgery have made the decision to undergo the procedure of their own accord.
Tummy tuck surgery is almost always performed under general anesthesia and is usually performed on an outpatient basis at North Fullerton Surgery Center, an ambulatory center located in the same building as the Plastic Surgery Group. Some patients prefer for the procedure to be performed in a hospital setting where they can stay overnight following the procedure, which can be accommodated. Once general anesthesia has been administered so the patient does not feel a thing for the duration of surgery, the plastic surgeon may perform liposuction of the abdomen, if necessary, to remove stubborn deposits of fat from under the skin. The surgeon then makes a horizontal incision in the pubic region, extending from one hipbone to the other. Although the incision needed for tummy tuck is significant, it is strategically placed in an area that can be easily concealed by the underwear or bikini line. The plastic surgeon eliminates the excess skin before repairing the underlying musculature and other supporting tissue structures. To do so, the surgeon positions internal stitches in a corset-like pattern to hold the repaired muscles and tissues in place after surgery. Our surgeons then use a special technique so that the patient does not need to have drains placed (a newer technique, pioneered by our surgeons, that drastically improves recovery from this procedure). Our expert New York City and New Jersey abdominoplasty surgeon then pulls the remaining skin taut and closes the incision with dissolvable external sutures. He or she moves the navel so it is aligned with the newly contoured abdomen, using a second, small incision located in the belly button to do so. The treated area is dressed with fluffy bandages and overlying compression garment that must be worn for several weeks after surgery, as directed by the surgeon.
Certain patients who have poor muscle tone and skin elasticity but whose excess skin is limited to the region below the navel may be suitable candidates for a modified, or “mini”, tummy tuck procedure. The modified procedure removes skin exclusively from the lower abdomen and focuses on tightening the underlying musculature. The modified procedure typically requires a shorter incision and often leads to a quicker recovery when compared to full abdominoplasty. Liposuction can also be included in the modified procedure for optimal abdominal contouring.
Once the effects of the anesthesia have worn off, patients are free to return home in the care of an authorized adult. A responsible individual should stay with the patient for at least 24 hours after surgery. Patients recovering from abdominoplasty will need to take about two weeks off from work or their everyday activities. Following surgery, individuals should get plenty of rest, avoiding strenuous activity, including heavy lifting. Nevertheless, they should walk around the house every couple of hours, with the assistance of a caregiver if needed. Taking short walks helps minimize the chance of developing blood clots in the lower extremities and helps encourage sound blood circulation to the healing tissues. At the Plastic Surgery Group, our surgeons inject a special numbing medication during surgery that prevents post-op pain for 3 days after surgery, significantly reducing patient’s discomfort and need for pain medication. However, the abdomen may feel sore, tender or numb and the treatment area may be swollen or bruised. These symptoms are expected and should dissipate with time. Although some of the aesthetic benefits of tummy tuck are noticeable immediately after surgery, it will take about 12 weeks for the final results to become actualized, as this is how long it takes for any residual swelling to resolve and for the tissues to heal. To schedule a personal consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons and learn more about tummy tuck surgery, please contact the Plastic Surgery Group by calling (973) 233-1933 or (212) 321-0406. The Plastic Surgery Group proudly serves New York City and Northern New Jersey (Montclair) plastic surgery patients.