Tummy tuck surgery is utilized by those looking to remove excess fat and skin from their lower abdomen area. In most cases this will also have the effect of a smoother abdominal profile, subsequently aiding the recovery of weakened muscles. Although the combination of high intensity cardiovascular activity and weight exercise can have the desired effect of a well-toned and flat abdomen, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. On the contrary, these efforts do not always result in success.
It is not just dietary choices that can result in the abdomen protruding. In fact, there are a number of other causes whereby individuals of normal body weight can experience abdomen sagging. This includes pregnancy, age, prior surgery, and even hereditary links.
There is often a misconception that abdominoplasty is the same as liposuction, however they are two entirely independent procedures. Whilst a tummy tuck is concerned with the removal of excess skin and fat, liposuction instead only removes the fatty deposits.
Why you might be considering a tummy tuck
There could be a variety of reasons that led to your interest in considering a tummy tuck. Below are some of the most common ones.
- You’ve tried dieting and/or exercising to remove flab, surplus skin or stretch marks, however to no avail.
- You’ve recently gone through a period of major weight loss or alternatively, pregnancy – which has subsequently affected the shape of your abdomen
- You are suffering from a protruding abdomen and as such, feel self-conscience.
So now that you know what a tummy tuck is, let’s take a look at some of the things you need to do to prepare for the procedure.
Whilst a tummy tuck is concerned with the removal of excess skin and fat, liposuction instead only removes the fatty deposits
All You Need to Know
Tummy tuck usually takes between 2.5 to 3.5 hours to complete, in some cases surgery may fall outside of this time-frame. Nevertheless, there are a number of common steps associated with a tummy tuck procedure, which we have broken down below..
What type of tummy tuck is right for me?
Before proceeding with surgery, you first need to think about the type of tummy tuck you are after. A mini tummy tuck is potentially suitable for those that are concerned with loose skin or stretch marks, present in the lower central area of the tummy. With a single incision, you will have your surplus skin removed, resulting in a flat and smooth abdominal wall.
The second option to consider is the full tummy tuck, which is more extensive than the mini option. A full tummy tuck will target the entire length of your abdominal wall, meaning that the overall results should be more visible. Excess skin is removed through U-shaped or horizontal incisions, subsequently tightening the abdominal muscles along the way.
Steps to take prior to surgery
To ensure that your body is fully prepared for surgery, there are a number of factors that you need to consider. First and foremost, it is highly advisable to refrain from smoking at least six weeks prior to surgery. Not only will this reduce the risks of complications, but it will also ensure a much better final result with a better healing process.
Also if you are not a person that does some form of physical training, it is advisable that you start doing some long walks daily to improve your circulation as this will also help in avoiding complications during/after surgery and also help in best result possible.
If you are currently taking medication that carries additional risks of bleeding (such as Aspirin), then it is advisable that you consult with your doctor. Avoiding these medications prior to surgery will ensure that you reduce the risks of bleeding during the procedure.
In terms of diet, it is also recommended that you drink plenty of water, maintain a healthy body weight and consume nutritious foods. This will have the desired effect of vastly reducing your post-surgery recovery time. As for the immediate preparation for the surgery, you should ensure that you do not eat or drink (coffee’s, Tea’s, juices, milk) 6 hours prior surgery and up to 4 hours before have to refrain from drinking even water.
Make sure that you take a shower before you arrive for surgery, as a clean body will reduce the threat of bacterial infection during surgery. Finally, it is also advisable to wear loose fitting and comfortable clothes that are easy to put on and off. You don’t want to put any additional strain on your body after surgery, which may be amplified if you are having to lift your arms to get dressed.
The first step of the tummy tuck procure will involve anaesthesia. This is a very important process and ensures that patients are comfortably asleep and free of pain from the start till the end of the surgery.
The anaesthesia process is one of the main reasons why you should never eat any food hours before surgery as per above details. Ultimately, it ensures that your body prevents regurgitated foods from causing windpipe blockage or entering the lungs.
The surgeon will do the marking prior to surgery (while the patient still in the room) and are done standing up. Once the anaesthesia has been administered, the surgeon might go into more measuring details of the tummy and when needed more markings are done prior starting the surgery. In a nutshell, the markings are used to indicate where the incisions are to be made. Furthermore, the surgeon will also mark the location of your torso, as well as the repositioned navel.
Incision and navel re-positioning
Once the markings have been made, the surgeon will then begin the incision placement process. Depending on the circumstances of the patient, it might also be necessary for the surgeon to engage in navel repositioning. This is the process of tightening and then lifting the abdomen, as well as relocating the original navel to a more desired location.
Tightening of weak muscle
Prior to the surgeon removing loose skin, he will first ascertain whether or not the patient requires muscle tightening. This would be suitable for those that have abdomen muscles which have loosened over time. In order to do this, the surgeon will need to separate the abdominal skin from that of the abdominal walls. As a result, the muscles will be pulled closer together, resulting in a waistline that appears narrower and more toned.
Loose skin and fat removal
At this point of the tummy tuck procedure, the surgeon will then proceed to trim away the loose skin. This is achieved first by position the anaesthetised patient in a semi sitting position and then by pulling the skin downwards, resulting in tighter and smoother abdomen. Where needed, fat removal process is done either around the tummy area from underneath the skin or the flanks (sides of the tummy) for a more defined result.
Although not a fundamental objective of a tummy tuck, it is also possible to reduce the visible signs of stretch marks at this point of the procedure. Depending on where they are located, it may be possible to remove stretch marks along with loose skin. This is normally the case when they are situated from navel to below.
Once the surgeon has completed the tummy tuck process, he will then proceed to close the incisions that were previously made. Initially, the affected skin will have surgical stitching applied to it, subsequently allowing the wounds to close naturally over time. After this, in order to extract any surplus fluid, the patient will have a surgical drain applied just below the skin of the incisions. This will also reduce the risk of infection.
Recovery & Aftercare
Once you have completed the Abdominoplasty surgery procedure, you will then need to make some considerations for your post-op care. First and foremost, your abdomen will more than likely feel swollen and sore. Your surgeon will advise you that you need to wear a compression garment post-surgery, which will help reduce swelling, as well as encourage a compact abdominal shape.
It is recommended that you wear the garment for 6 weeks after surgery and that you spend the first few days engaging in the occasional walk around the house. This will ensure that your blood flow circulates efficiently to assist in the healing process.
In terms of recovery times, this can differ depending on a number of factors. Ultimately, if you were in a state of good physical and nutritional health prior to surgery, you will potentially recover faster than those who weren’t. In many cases, patients are able to return to work after a good 10 days to 2 weeks.
Due to the nature of the surgery, patients are asked not to stand up straight in the first ¾ days after the procedure. Never attempt to force the healing process, as you must allow the body to do this naturally. As the body begins to gradually heal itself, your muscles will begin to improve. Moreover, the compression garment will also assist in this recovery process.
It is important to know that the drains will remain in situ for few days post-surgery. In most cases, this could be anytime between 3 and 7 days after surgery, however you will be advised of this after the procedure is complete.
Common Concerns (Risks)
As in all forms of surgery, there are a number factors that you need to consider prior to making a decision.
As the surgery consists of incisions, any scars that are attributable will remain permanently. Although the visibility of these scars will differ between patients, the surgeon will ensure that they are applied along the bikini line.
As the surgeon will have repositioned your abdominal tissues, this could affect your skin sensation in and around the affected area. Notably, you might experience numbness in both the abdomen and upper thighs. If this is the case, the symptoms are usually alleviated in the months following the procedure.
There are also risks associated with wound healing, which can lead to the incision line separating. If this is the case, then your surgeon might prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.
During the surgery process, there is a risk that the fatty tissues within the abdominal skin area could get damaged. Although this most commonly heals on its own, you might be required to get this touched up by the surgeon at a later date. Once again, SMOKING should be avoided until the recovery process is complete, as this can prevent the fatty tissues from healing.