What is a Tummy Tuck?
Abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgery designed to remove excess skin after massive weight loss or liposuction as well as firm muscles in the abdominal wall. The goal of a tummy tuck is to return a patient’s abdomen to a firmer, tighter contour. This is achieved by excising excess skin, removing excess fat, and repositioning weakened or separated muscles, giving the patient a flatter, smoother, more contoured abdomen.
Who is a Good Candidate for Abdominoplasty?
The tummy tuck procedure, clinically termed abdominoplasty, is more about skin and muscle than fat removal. The best candidates have loose, inelastic skin on their lower stomach, and have found it almost impossible to tighten this area with dietary changes and exercise.
Good candidates generally have either gained and then lost a large amount of weight, have had a child, or are simply dealing with increasing laxity of the stomach muscles and tissues due to aging or genetics. Weight gain and pregnancy both create situations where the stomach skin and support tissue are stretched for a period of time. When the person loses the weight, the skin often cannot return to its former degree of tautness. These conditions can also cause the abdominal muscles to separate; this makes it hard for the muscles to keep the area tight, as they did before separation.
If you are considering having another child, however, a tummy tuck will have to wait. The effects of pregnancy will negate the results of your surgery. Also, if a person plans to lose more weight, a tummy tuck should be delayed, as the weight loss will create more loose skin. It’s important to remember, a tummy tuck is a body-contouring procedure, not a weight-loss procedure.
Types of Tummy Tucks
Dr. DeRoberts performs a variety of tummy tuck procedures, based on the needs of each patient. There are traditional/full tummy tucks, mini tummy tucks, endoscopic tummy tucks, extended tummy tucks, and circumferential tummy tucks.
- Mini Tummy Tuck – Here the hip incision is usually somewhat shorter and skin is lifted only to the navel area. The second incision is not made. Mini tummy tucks are ideal for patients who don’t have large amounts of loose skin and who still have good abdominal muscle strength.
- Extended Tummy Tuck – The goal here is to expand the target from the abdomen to also include the “love handles.” To do this, the hip-to-hip incision is extended behind the hips.
- Circumferential Tummy Tuck – This is also known as a body lift. Circumferential tummy tucks are often performed on patients who have had gastric bypass surgery. The weight is gone, but now the patient is discouraged by the amount of loose, hanging skin that remains. The incision in a circumferential tuck usually wraps around the entire waste, allowing the largest amount of skin to be pulled down and trimmed. Circumferential is the most drastic form of tummy tuck and has the most amount of scarring.
- Endoscopic Tummy Tuck – Endoscopic tummy tucks don’t involve a long incision because loose skin isn’t the issue. Instead, endoscopic tummy tucks target weakened or separated abdominal muscles. An endoscope is inserted through a tiny incision, with surgical tools inserted through other tiny incisions. Dr. DeRoberts then brings the separated muscles back together at the midline of the belly. This method creates virtually no scarring, but it doesn’t allow for trimming of excess skin or removal of fat pockets.
Tummy Tuck Procedure
Variations in this procedure usually involve the length of the main incision. The operation may take from 2 to 6 hours. In a traditional tummy tuck, Dr. DeRoberts makes one incision that runs from hip to hip, generally following the bikini line so that the scar is hidden. A second incision is made either within or around the belly button to address the upper abdomen.
After the incisions are made the upper abdominal skin is pulled away from the muscle beneath. The underlying muscles are pulled together and stitched into place for a firmer abdomen and narrower waist. Fat pockets may be removed with minor liposuction at this point. The skin is then stretched downward and over the newly tightened muscles, excess skin is trimmed, and the navel is moved to a new, natural position. The incisions are then closed.
Tummy Tuck Before & After
Can you combine a tummy tuck with other procedures?
Tummy tucks do not need to be stand-alone procedures. Often, after a woman has her abdomen tightened after childbirth, she can then feel as if her breasts sag as well. Rather than having a separate procedure for a breast lift, it can be combined with a tummy tuck. Liposuction is often a part of most tummy tuck procedures, but it can be extended to the thighs and buttocks when combined with a tummy tuck. Thigh lifts and butt lifts can extend the contour improvements to these areas.
The degree of recovery correlates somewhat to the type of tuck you’ve had. However, tummy tucks are major surgeries and involve a good deal of tissue excision and muscle repositioning. This creates tissue trauma and requires recovery time. Patients will need to rest for at least two weeks, and may need up to six weeks for more extensive tucks.
You’ll need to arrange help around the house, as you won’t be able to lift more than just a couple pounds. Any lifting of more weight or strenuous exercise will need to wait for at least six weeks. You will have soreness along your incisions for weeks, and this can stretch to months in some cases.
Risks of Abdominoplasty
Abdominoplasty is major surgery, and involves the same risks as any surgery:
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Danger of infection
- Poor healing
- Possible continued bleeding
This procedure involves very low complication rates, but there is a major scar. Dr. DeRoberts tries to place the incision at a height that can be hidden under panties or bikini bottoms. As time goes by, the scar will lighten in appearance.
Schedule a Consultation
For more information about Tummy Tuck and to see if you are a good candidate, contact DeRoberts Plastic Surgery. Call our Syracuse office at (315) 299-5313 to schedule a consultation.