Tummy Tuck Procedure

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a procedure in which the abdomen of a person is made firmer through surgery. With the help of this surgical procedure, excess fat and skin can be removed from the lower and middle abdomen. The removal of excess skin and fat from the body helps tighten the muscles of the abdomen. Abdominoplasty can benefit individuals who have experienced a significant weight loss or after giving birth to a child. Abdomen skin and muscles tend to droop after childbirth, and abdominoplasty is one way to make the abdomen firmer. A tummy tuck is a good option for individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery. Laxity of abdominal muscles can also be fixed with this procedure.

A tummy tuck procedure can benefit people who are in good health and have an ideal weight, but have a projecting belly. This surgical procedure will remove the excess fat and skin of the abdominal area, which the patient was unable to reduce through regular exercise and diet. You will look younger and slimmer after a tummy tuck procedure, but the procedure is not an alternative to exercise and diet. Abdominoplasty can be performed in combination with liposuction to improve results. Abdominoplasty is helpful in removing flabby skin to eliminate stubborn "love handles." With a slimmer and more youthful figure, your confidence level will improve.

The results of this procedure are permanent, but desired results will depend on your weight. Individuals who experience significant weight fluctuations should not have a tummy tuck. Women who want to become pregnant in the future should typically postpone this surgical procedure until after their final pregnancy. Results will also vary according to the technique used, elasticity of the skin, genetics, and experience of the surgeon. Patients should have realistic expectations about the abdominoplasty. Dr. Hall will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure with you during your initial consultation.

A tummy tuck procedure will usually take two to four hours and will require general anesthesia. A higher BMI (body mass index) usually indicates that the surgical procedure will take more time to complete. During the procedure, a horizontal incision is created underneath the bikini line, where the final scar can be hidden by most clothing. Then, the excess fat and skin is removed by separating the skin from the abdominal wall. After separating the skin, the muscles of the abdomen are tightened. The removal of excess fat is done by pulling the abdominal skin downwards.

Three of the tummy tuck procedures currently available are the mini or partial tummy tuck, the complete or standard tummy tuck, and the "extended" tummy tuck. In a complete tummy tuck procedure, an incision is created from hipbone to hipbone above the bikini line The surgeon will then reshape the muscles, tissue, and skin in that area to provide natural looking and smoother skin. Excess fluids present beneath the skin will be drained using drainage tubes. These drainage tubes will remain in place after the surgery, and will then be removed some days later. A repositioning of the belly button also may be performed, if necessary. A complete tummy tuck procedure is better for patients who need a greater amount of corrections.

Mini or partial abdominoplasty is intended for patients who have fat deposits below the navel and require fewer modifications. Dr. Hall will make a smaller incision across the abdomen for the removal of skin and fat. The recovery period for mini abdominoplasty is shorter than the time required for a complete abdominoplasty. The belly button of the patient may be removed, and the skin between the incision and belly button will be separated to remove the fat inside. The mini abdominoplasty procedure takes about 1-2 hours to complete.

You will need to remain in the hospital after the surgical procedure, with the length of your stay based on the amount of correction that was required. The scars that form after the tummy tuck procedure typically thicken during the first six weeks, and will take at least 18 months to lighten and flatten. The scars will never disappear completely, but you will be able to conceal them with appropriate clothing. You may experience a slightly swollen abdomen for the initial few days following the surgery. Your doctor can prescribe medications to alleviate pain or discomfort after the procedure. After the surgery, the doctor will recommend that you move out of the bed as soon as possible because mobility helps prevent blood clots in the legs.

Dr. Hall will recommend a treatment to aid in scar reduction. A tummy tuck procedure has certain risks and complications, such as bleeding, infection, blood clots, pain, temporary numbness, accumulation of scar tissue, reduced sensation in the treated area, accumulation of fluid beneath the skin, and hematoma. You can minimize these risks and complications by finding an experienced and qualified surgeon like Dr. Hall.

Dr. Hall will advise you to stop drinking alcohol for one week and smoking cigarettes for one- two months before the surgery

A higher BMI (body mass index) usually indicates that the surgical procedure will take more time to complete. Patients with a BMI of more than 30 are generally not a candidate for an abdominoplasty. And having a BMI of less than 25 puts patients at lower risk for venous thrombosis and may help to have an easier recovery. As we lose weight there is less "omental" fat around our intestines and therefore less pressure when we tighten the abdominal wall during an abdominoplasty. Less pressure means less pain and lower risk of blood clots. I like to tell my patients that " you can't put 40 lbs of potatoes in a 20 lb bag". So if there is too much fat around the intestines, the abdominal bulge from a stretched out muscle wall cannot be corrected easily or will stretch back out, like it does when one is pregnant or gains weight.

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In addition to the mini tuck, and the complete or standard tummy tuck described above, "extended" tummy tuck is also commonly performed. The extended tummy tuck is generally considered for those patients with more looseness of the skin such as after significant weight loss, and extends the standard incision around towards, but not completely around the back. It allows for better contouring of the sides, without extending completely around such as in a lower body lift, but with a shorter healing period and typically less discomfort and risk.

During the follow-up appointments, Dr. Hall will ensure that healing is progressing correctly by examining your incision. If drains are used, they are typically removed at 6-7 days after surgery. Dr Hall prefers to use sutures that are dissolvable and do not need to be removed.

Dr. Jonathan Hall is board certified in Plastic Surgery by the American Board of Medical Specialities, and has been in practice in the Boston area for more than 20 years. He has been named a "Top Doc" by Boston Magazine for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He has also been named a top doctor by US News and World Report.


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