Excess skin in the abdomen due to pregnancy or dramatic weight loss and the weakened abdominal wall due to the stretched abdominal muscles can result in a protruding abdomen, which cannot be corrected with diet or exercise.
A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure used to correct such a deformity of the abdominal wall. Considering the extent of the deformity, a complete or partial abdominoplasty can be performed.
How Is the Surgery Performed?
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and depending on the extent, it takes 2–4 hours.
An incision is placed in the lower abdomen, above the pubic hairline. In a complete abdominoplasty, or a full tummy tuck, the incision extends from one hipbone to the other. The skin and subcutaneous tissue as a unit are separated from the muscles up to the lower part of the sternum. The excess skin and subcutaneous tissue below the belly button are removed, the separated muscles are tightened with special stitches, and a new opening is cut on the abdominal wall for the repositioning of the belly button, which is sutured into its new place. The surgery is completed by closing the incision and inserting the drains to prevent fluid accumulation.
If the problem is only the muscles separated (there is no excess skin and the skin retains its elasticity), a partial abdominoplasty, or a mini tummy tuck, can be performed. In such a case, the incision is analogous to the one described above, but is shorter. The skin and subcutaneous tissue as a unit are segmented to the level where the muscles are separated; the belly button remains in the same place and only slightly is moved down.
Tummy tuck surgery is often performed in conjunction with liposuction on the abdominal and waist areas.
What Should Be Known After Surgery?
- The first 2 postoperative days are usually spent in the clinic;
- Dry bandages should be applied on the incisions every 2–3 days;
- It is allowed to take a shower after 4 days;
- The stitches are removed after 2 weeks;
- Most patients resume their daily routines within 2 weeks;
- Strenuous physical activities and sports are recommended not earlier than 3 months after the surgery;
- A special compression garment should be worn for 6 weeks after the surgery (22–23 hours per day);
- The final outcome is seen after 4 months when the swelling subsides completely;
- The postoperative scars should be protected from direct sunlight for the period not shorter than 1 year to make them less noticeable. The scars usually fade within 2 years.
Following pregnancy or weight loss, women often suffer from excess sagging skin in the abdomen and loose abdominal wall due to stretched abdominal muscles. Depending on wishes of the patient, a partial abdominoplasty or a complete abdominoplasty is most commonly employed.
A complete abdominoplasty: during the procedure, liposuction can be performed to remove fat deposits from the area between the belly button and the xiphoid process of the sternum and from the areas of both hips. A U-shaped incision is made in the lower abdomen close to the pubic area. The skin and fat are separated from the muscles, the muscles of the abdominal wall are tightened with special stitches, the excess skin and subcutaneous tissue are removed, and the belly button is re-positioned and sutured into its new place. After a few years, the scar becomes barely visible. The final incision usually is V-shaped; therefore, underwear can easily hide it. If a woman suffers from contour deformity only in the lower abdomen, a partial abdominoplasty can be suggested. The incision is analogous to described-above, but it is shorter; the skin and subcutaneous tissue are separated to the belly button; the belly button remains in the same place, slightly moving it down.