Tummy Tuck Abdominoplasty
When a healthy diet and regular exercise fail to produce an abdomen that is flat and toned, undergoing a tummy tuck is one option for improving its appearance. This procedure, which also goes by the medical name abdominoplasty, removes excess fat and skin from the abdominal area. For most people, a tummy tuck also creates a profile that appears firmer and smoother. Having a flabby abdomen doesn’t just happen to people who are overweight. Even those whose weight is proportional to their height can struggle with this common problem. Some of the typical causes include:
- After effects of pregnancy
- Normal aging
- A previous surgery
- Loss or gain of a significant amount of weight in a short time
It is important for potential plastic surgery patients to understand that an abdominoplasty will not help them lose weight. They will still need to avoid consuming excess calories and engage in a challenging workout routine to maintain a desirable body weight. People who are planning to diet in the future should avoid getting a tummy tuck until they have reached their goal weight. Additionally, women should not have this procedure until they are certain they won’t get pregnant again.
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UPMC Western Maryland Plastic Surgery
12502 Willowbrook Road, Suite 460
Cumberland, MD 21502
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday and Thursday 8 am – 5:30 pm
Friday 8 am – 12 pm
Tummy Tuck Surgical Procedure
Patients typically receive either general anesthesia or intravenous sedation at the start of the surgery to block pain and ensure comfort. To begin the surgery, the plastic surgeon makes a horizontal incision at the pubic hairline. The surgeon decides on the shape and length of the incision based on the amount of excess skin present on the patient’s abdomen. Once the skin of the abdomen has been lifted, the next step is to repair the weakened muscles underneath it.
The belly button is cut out and left in place.
The surgeon then pulls the skin of the upper abdomen down like a window shade. Patients receive a new opening for their belly button. The final step of the abdominoplasty is for the surgeon to pop the belly button through the surface of the skin and suture it in place. It is now time to close the incisions with sutures followed by surgical tape.
Recovery from Abdominoplasty
The abdomen will feel tight and sore for the first several days after a tummy tuck. Swelling may begin right away or by the following day. The surgeon will prescribe both painkillers and antibiotics that must be taken exactly as directed. Bruising and numbness in the belly area should be expected after surgery as well. The numbness occurs due to the surgeon having to cut through some nerves to complete the procedure. It can take several months for normal sensations in this area to return.
Before the patient goes home with a responsible driver, he or she will receive a detailed discharge report outlining the following information:
- How to change dressings and the intervals at which this needs to be done
- When the patient is clear to take a sponge bath or a shower
- Specific activity restrictions, including avoiding contact sports and high intensity workouts for at least three weeks
- What to do in case of bleeding from the incision site or an elevated temperature
Other best practices for healing from a tummy tuck include wearing a support garment around the abdomen and sleeping with the head elevated for up to two weeks. Most plastic surgeons request tummy tuck patients to return to the office a day or two after surgery to check on the healing process. Patients should plan to return for a second visit a few days later to have their drain removed.
It can take up to four to six weeks to recover from the surgery and feel well enough to return to work. However, those whose jobs are physically demanding may need to stay home for up to six weeks. This is a major surgery, especially for patients who have work performed above and below the navel.