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Tummy tucks - what you need to know

The must-know facts about abdominoplasty

Author: Barry Lycka March 6 2007

beautiful flat stomach

In medical terms "tummy tuck" is called as abdominoplasty. It is a surgical procedure where the excess fat is removed from the abdomen and abdomen muscles are tightened. This procedure would help a person to look thin and improve the appearance, but it could leave a permanent mark on the treated body part.

Who should opt for abdominoplasty?

Men and women who have excess fat deposits and loose skin in their abdomen and who find it difficult to lose the excess fat through pills, exercise and dieting opt for abdominoplasty. Women who have had multiple pregnancies and stretched abdominal muscles and skin and are unable to return to their original shape can also choose abdominoplasty.

Women planning to become pregnant should not go for abdominoplasty, as the muscles in the abdomen would expand during pregnancy. People who have had any type of abdominal surgery should not opt for abdominoplasty. People who don't mind having a permanent scar in their tummy and long recovery time can opt for abdominoplasty.Abdominoplasty enhances a person's appearance and boosts self-confidence. Before going for a surgery discuss and clarify all the doubts in your mind and your expectations from the surgery. An abdominoplasty surgeon would be able to clear all your doubts.

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Abdominoplasty risks

Whenever you opt for any kind of surgery, there is always a chance of risk. There are thousands of people who opt for abdominoplasty every year and are successfully treated. However, there is a chance of risk linked with this surgery and complications could arise during and after this surgery. Post surgery complications like blood clots are very rare, but infections could arise but they can be treated with antibiotics. Blood clots can be stopped after the surgery if you move around as soon as the surgery is completed. Smokers should stop smoking before and after the surgery, as this would delay the healing process. You need to consult your surgeon regarding foods to eat, when to start physical activity, when to commence exercises etc.

Points to keep in mind while planning your surgery

First you need to consult a surgeon who will assess you health and take into account the amount of fat in the abdominal area and the skin type. You need to give the right information to the surgeon and you should not hide any health related information. If you smoke, drink liquor products or take any pills then you should be frank and tell the truth. Hiding a health problem could worsen the health situation later, so make it a point to discuss everything beforehand.

If you are frank, the surgeon would also be equally frank with you and discuss the procedure, limitations, alternative treatments etc. Suppose you have huge fat deposits in your lower navel area then the surgeon would advise for a partial abdominoplasty and not a complete one. The surgeon may even suggest other forms of fat reduction processes like liposuction, depending upon the fat content, body structure and other reasons. The surgeon would recommend the best solution and it is best to follow the surgeon's advice.

Whatever procedure you opt for, make it a point to discuss the treatment procedure, medications, anesthesia, cost of the treatment etc with the surgeon.

How to prepare for the surgery

The surgeon would provide instructions on preparing for the surgery. He would advise you regarding diet, drinks, medications etc., which needs to be properly followed. If you smoke then you have to stop smoking beforehand for 2-3 weeks before the surgery. You need to avoid overexposure to sun before surgery and if your have any problems or pain in any part of the body before the surgery then your surgery would be postponed.

Once the surgery is completed, you need to take proper rest for a day or two or as suggested by the surgeon.

On the day of the surgery

The duration of abdominoplasty surgery is 2-5 hours and partial abdominoplasty would normally take 1-2 hours. The surgeon makes an incision above the pubic area from end to end. The navel is freed from the adjoining tissues. The skin up to your ribs is flapped open and the muscles of the abdomen are tautened. The surgeon gets the muscles close and stitches them, which makes the muscles taut. Since the muscles are moved together the abdomen constricts and the waistline is reduced. If you have extra skin, it is removed and the flap is stitched. Dressings to the stitching are applied, and the surgery is complete.

In partial abdominoplasty the incision is shorter and the excess fat is removed before the flap is stitched back.

Post surgery

After the surgery is completed the abdomen part would be swollen and of course pain and uneasiness would prevail for some days, but medications would help you in this phase. Usually after the surgery is completed you need to rest in the hospital for a day or two, but in some cases you can move home, but you should not drive or do any other activity except rest for a day or two. Somebody should take care of you for a day or two.The surgeon would provide instructions on taking bath, dressings, walking, diet etc. The exterior stitches are usually removed in 5-7 days.

Recovery period

After the surgery it would take some weeks or even a month to get back to normal. If you have strong abdominal muscles the recovery could be quick. Some people take 2 weeks rest and start their daily routine, while some take 3-4 weeks. In this period people should do exercises prescribed by the surgeon, as it would reduce the swelling and not cause blood clots. Do not strain too much by doing vigorous exercise during this period. The scars would take about 9-12 months to flatten. The scar will not disappear completely but the scar color will lighten over a period of time.

For a new you

If you are a person, who is enamored with his or her image, or if you are a person who wants to look in proper shape, but are unable to attain it, then abdominoplasty could be for you. However, it is advised to opt for it as a last resort. Even surgeons suggest people to go walking, jogging, lifting weights, cycling, or any other form of physical activity to get in shape. Some may even prescribe medicines to get thinner. A few dietary changes may be recommended along with the physical activities and medicines. Tummy tuck is usually recommended by doctors only when all else fails. Though many people have successfully tucked in their tummies, people still have their apprehensions. Getting under a knife scares many and hence people try various diet fads. You need to consult your doctor to decide if you need to go for the surgery.

Although the above-mentioned points would answer most of your questions, a lot depends on the patient and the surgeon. You need to clear all your doubts before the surgery from the surgeon and together arrive at a decision whether to go for it or not!

About the Author

Barry A. S. Lycka is one of North America's foremost authorities on cosmetic, skin cancer, reconstructive and laser surgery of the skin. You can find out more at and

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Posted on 10/11/08 02:03 by: Theodore R, Corwin, MD

The article on Tummy tuck was a little vague in several areas. Abdominoplasty was designed as a skin tightening procedure much as face lift is for the face. After pregnancy or extreme weight loss the skin has been stretched beyond its ability to recover. It would be as if you took an article of clothing with elastic in it and stretched that elastic forcefully. When you let go the elastic does not return to its original shape and there is nothing you can do except relace it.

Unfortunately we are unable at this point to replace the elastic in our bodies. Therefore in order to repair the damage in the abdominal wall skin we must remove the damaged skin. No amount of exercise will cause this skin to contract to its original shape.

The scar for a tummy tuck is placed very low on the abdomen, usually in the pubic hair line, so that it can be hidden by the skimpiest bathing suit. All of the skin between the pubic hair line and the belly button is usually removed and the good quality skin from the upper abdomen is pulled down. The belly button is not removed. A small scar is made around the belly button and it is left in place on the abdominal wall. When the skin is pulled down over the belly button a new opening is made and the belly button is pulled out and sutured in place. The muscles that have been stretched by pregnancy are tightened on the inside with stitches.

After the procedure the loose abdominal skin is gone. Any stretch marks on the lower abdomen and any scars on the lower abdomen such as C section scars or appendectomy scars are gone, removed by the surgery. The resulting tummy tuck scar is long, usually from hip bone to hip bone, but it is low so that it can be hidden and it is usually a good quality scar.


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