A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a procedure that corrects sagging tummy skin and loose abdominal muscles. This development can be caused by either pregnancy, aging, major fluctuations in body weight, genetic factors, or can sometimes be caused by a prior surgical procedure. In any case, a tummy tuck can certainly resolve the physical issue of a loose and sagging abdomen but its influence on the patient can be even more far reaching.
Emotionally, a sagging tummy can cause someone to withdraw from normal activities, avoid social and intimate situations, and can also bring on sadness and disappointment for not achieving the results they should be getting after dieting and exercising faithfully. We hear from patients every day who come in with unique reasons why their tummy looks the way it does. However, there is a common thread running through all of their stories; they feel embarrassed about the way they look and they feel unattractive. There is no reason to go on feeling that way for one more day! With a tummy tuck (with or without liposuction), the loose skin can be tightened up, the excess skin removed forever, and the sagging abdominal muscles can be tightened up to produce a completely flat, tight tummy.
The tummy tuck procedure is especially popular for women who have had a child and desire to get back their pre-pregnancy figure. When this procedure is combined with either liposuction and/or a breast procedure, we call this a “mommy makeover”.
Personalized Procedure Plans that Meet Your Unique Needs
Whatever the reason for considering a tummy tuck, our expert surgeons at Wall Street Cosmetic Surgery will recommend a personalized plan to help you achieve the results you are looking for. Every one of our patients is special and unique; so are their needs for procedures and treatments. We care about each and every patient and will take all of the time necessary to answer every question while making you feel comfortable with the plan that is right for you.
Are You Healthy Enough for a Tummy Tuck?
We will do a full blood workup and urinalysis to be sure that you are in good health and would be a good candidate for tummy tuck surgery. Because general anesthesia is used for this procedure, it is important to let your surgeon know if you have any heart conditions or other health concerns that would make the surgery riskier for you. If you are a normal body weight, this also greatly improves the patient safety profile and means a better outcome for you after the procedure.
Who is a Good Candidate?
An ideal candidate for an abdominoplasty is a patient in good physical health that is already engaged in regular exercise and eating a healthy diet. Patients who are considering this procedure have likely exhausted all other avenues of achieving a flat tummy with tight skin but who are not seeing any results. This is why outside factors beyond their control such as the after-effects of pregnancy or from aging are two excellent reasons to pursue a tummy tuck when all else has failed.
For women of child-bearing age who plan to have more children, we discourage them from having the tummy tuck procedure. The results will be greatly diminished (and likely reversed) if the patient becomes pregnant again. Therefore, the ideal candidate is not planning to have more children after her tummy tuck.
Patients who still have a significant amount of weight to lose (25 pounds or more) should postpone their tummy tuck procedure until they have lost the excess weight. Since skin has a certain amount of memory and elasticity, skin will shrink to some degree after weight loss. However, for patients who have more than 25 pounds to lose, it is best to hold off on having the procedure until their weight is stabilized at their goal weight (or within 10-15 pounds of that ideal weight). This will allow for the procedure to have lasting, beautiful results.
How Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) is Performed
An abdominoplasty provides patients with a way of removing loose skin from the abdomen while also tightening the stomach muscles. Often times, this extra skin on the abdomen is covered in stretch marks and can contain more fat than on other areas of the body. Once that flap of extra skin is removed, what remains is smooth and has far fewer stretch marks.
In most cases, a tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia and under the care of your plastic surgeon as well as an anesthesiologist, or doctor who specializes in administering anesthesia. In some cases, we use our unique method of local anesthesia with sedation to perform tummy tucks.
If tumescent liposuction, with or without the use of laser, is to be used to rid the area of unwanted fat, it is done prior to any incisions being made for the tummy tuck. Once the liposuction has been completed, the surgeon makes an elliptical, or half-moon, shaped incision from one hip bone to the other. The incision is discreetly placed where it can easily be hidden underneath the panty line or bikini bottom.
The skin is then separated from the abdominal muscle layer and the umbilicus, or belly button is left attached to the abdominal wall. The surgeon then works on tightening the rectus abdominus muscles, or the vertical muscles that run lengthwise up the tummy from the ribs to the pubic bone. This stitching up of the muscles works much like a corset in that it holds the abdomen in a flattened, tightened state to give it a thinner appearance. This is especially necessary for women who have had children or for those who were once obese. These two scenarios can stretch the abdominal muscles to the point of no return. Thus, when the patient returns to a normal size, the muscles are left completely stretched out to their former size.
Once the layers of muscle have been tightened and brought together, the surgeon can move on to correcting the patient’s excess skin. The skin flap that is attached at the top is pulled down so that it is taught and looks to have the right amount of tension with no loose areas. Once the surgeon decides how much skin needs to be cut away, the skin is removed and discarded. The proper placement for the belly button is marked and a small circular incision is made in the upper flap of skin for the new position of the belly button. The belly button is then gently guided through the new circular incision and closed with stitches. The final step in the tummy tuck procedure is for the upper skin to be joined to the lower skin for a newly flattened tummy. The incision is then closed with dissolvable stitches in the deep layers of skin and the outer layer of skin is closed with either liquid stitches or micro-thin dissolvable stitches.
Mini Tummy Tuck (or Partial Abdominoplasty)
For patients who need minimal intervention to fix sagging skin, a mini tummy tuck may be the best option. This procedure differs from a tummy tuck in that it only involves removing the extra skin from the abdomen below the navel and tightening it. The incision is smaller and the procedure is less complicated; the extra skin is simply removed and pulled down, then attached in its new position. There is no need to involve the abdominal muscles or repositioning of the navel with a mini tummy tuck. Our surgeon will share with you whether this is an option for you when you come in for your consultation.
Tummy Tuck Healing and Incision Scar
All of the steps involved in the tummy tuck procedure are aimed at correcting the problem issues while leaving minimal evidence of the procedure being done. Patients find that incisions heal from being red to turning a purplish color after the scabbing is gone to fading out to nearly invisible after about a year or so. Your surgeon may also prescribe a post-surgical scar solution (such as No-Scar) that contains silicone to help speed up the production of collagen in the new scar tissue. It takes the body a full two years to complete lying down the collagen in a scar, so be patient as your body is healing in its own time frame.
African-American patients as well as patients of other ethnic backgrounds will sometimes develop a scarring phenomenon known as keloids. This type of scar is an abnormal production of skin cells and collagen at the incision site and can result in lumpy, raised bumps all along the incision. Our expert plastic surgeons can help correct this for you if this occurs spontaneously. If you are prone to keloids, be sure to share this information with us beforehand so we can prepare for how to handle scar revision if necessary.
Recovery After a Tummy Tuck Procedure
Since a tummy tuck is a major undertaking, expect to have some down time afterward. Typically patients feel significant discomfort for the first 1 -2 weeks(we will prescribe narcotic pain killers to help you through these first 2weeks). After that, pain may be easily managed with nothing more than extra strength Tylenol. Moving around can be painful and difficult for the first few days, so it is essential to have someone there to prepare food for you, to help you out of bed and to the bathroom, and to assist you with sitting up or lying down. You will be wearing a compression garment over your abdomen immediately after surgery you will likely have drains inserted in the area with a small flexible negative pressure (vacuum) container attached to the tubing that is protruding from either end of the tummy tuck incision. The compression garment is to be worn for a full 4-6 weeks while the drains can be removed as soon as one to two weeks post operatively.
We encourage patients to walk around a little after a few days following the procedure and then to mildly increase activity as they can tolerate it. Physical movement aids in blood flow to the surgery site, can prevent blood clots in the legs (from inactivity) and can boost a patient’s immune system as well.
Results: Better than You Expected
We have never had a patient say that they liked their tummy better before surgery! The tummy tuck procedure gives every patient an improved figure and a tightened, flat tummy. We have many patients who have come in for tummy tucks and reported months later that they feel like they have “just started living again”. They feel a boost of confidence and self-esteem when they are able to get into the slim-fitting clothes they used to wear. Many of our patients tell us that they no longer feel ashamed to have their tummy seen or touched. This opens up a whole new world for those whose lives were severely and negatively affected by the way they used to feel about their body.
Call us today for a free tummy tuck consultation at 516-597-5129. You can also request a consultation online through our contact us page. Though medical insurance will not cover the cost of a tummy tuck, we can help you apply for CareCredit financing as well as work with your budget to help you arrive at a cost that you can afford.