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What is a tummy tuck?

Some women find that no matter how hard they exercise their abs or watch what they eat, they simply cannot get rid of the excess bulge in the lower abdominal area. Tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that sculpts the waistline by removing excess fat and skin around the belly. It also restores weakened muscles to create a firmer appearance.

You are a good candidate for a tummy tuck if:

  • You are bothered by the appearance of your lower abdomen
  • You are finished having children
  • You do not plan to have any major weight fluctuations

What to expect

During a thorough consultation, your physician will perform a physical exam, take a full medical history, ask you about medications you may be taking and any conditions you currently have, take photographs, and discuss your expectations for the surgery. In addition, you may ask your physician any questions and discuss concerns you may have about tummy tuck at this time. Together, you will develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your individual needs and desires.

During the surgery, which is performed in a hospital setting under general anesthesia, a horizontal incision is made between the pubic hairline and belly button. The amount of excess skin will determine the shape and length of the incision. Once the skin is lifted, the weak abdominal muscles are repaired. Then the skin is trimmed and the upper abdominal skin is pulled down to connect with the lower skin. The belly button is repositioned if necessary.

Complications

Risks from tummy tuck surgery are minimal and include those associated with any surgery, such as infection, excessive bleeding and anesthesia risks. In addition, risks for tummy tuck surgery include:

  • Fluid accumulation
  • Skin loss
  • Numbness of the skin
  • Skin discoloration and scarring
  • Recurrent fat and excessive skin in the area

Recovery

Immediately following your tummy tuck, you will be taken into a recovery area for close monitoring. Your abdomen may be wrapped in gauze dressings or bandages and a compression garment to minimize swelling and support the abdomen during the healing process. You will need to wear this garment as instructed by your physician.

A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that collects.

You will be prescribed pain medication and an antibiotic to prevent infection.

Before being discharged from the hospital, you will be given postoperative instructions by your surgeon. It’s very important that you follow these instructions carefully to avoid complications.

While everyone’s recovery is different, you can expect to wear the supportive garment for four to six weeks. You will need to take it easy until your surgeon tells you it’s OK to resume normal activity, usually after three weeks.

Frequently asked questions

How long do the results of a tummy tuck last?

Providing you maintain your weight and live a healthy lifestyle, there is no expiration date for your tummy tuck.

Does a tummy tuck get rid of stretch marks?

Depending on the location of your stretch marks, it is possible for your surgeon to remove them during a tummy tuck. This is something that you should discuss with your surgeon during your consultation.

When will I be able to see the results?

You’ll see some improvement immediately after your tummy tuck, though the final results could take six to eight weeks to become apparent.

Will I have scars?

Any procedure will result in some scarring. But there are ways to minimize scars based on appropriate scar care, which your surgeon will review with you prior to surgery. It can take a year or more for the scars to settle.

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