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Tummy Tuck / Abdominoplasty Frequently Asked Questions

 

                            

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  • Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?

Patients who exhibit all of the following are great  candidates for abdominoplasty:

  • Patients who have excess or sagging abdominal stomach muscles or a protruding abdominal area

  • Patients need to be close to their ideal weight - within 30%

  • Does not have any other medical problems

  • Weight should be stable for the last few months

  • Patient has good skin elasticity and tone

  • Patient that doesn't smoke

  • Has realistic expectations

  • Aware of all the risks and complications of this procedure

Ultimately, if you are a woman it is best that you are done with having any more children before committing to this procedure, as any subsequent pregnancies will stretch out the skin and muscles. Also, it is better if the patient is at their goal weight before the procedure, as any excess weight fluctuations might make the tissue stretch out.

 

 

 

  • Will insurance cover the cost of abdominoplasty?

Most insurance companies consider abdominoplasties a cosmetic procedure, so no insurance will be eligible for coverage.  However, if the patient has a medical condition (such as a hernia) - the non-cosmetic portion may be covered.  Make sure you find out your limits of your insurance policy along with any questions you might have before your procedure.

 

 

 

  • What happens at the consultation for abdominoplasty?

Patients are measured with the amount of loose skin in the abdominal area.  Your plastic surgeon will examine the stomach muscles while the patient is standing and also laying down.  Medical histories are gone over to make sure you are healthy enough to endure the surgery.  It is very important to tell your surgeon everything you take on a routine basis with medication.  The patient's goals are considered along with if you are considering having any more children.  

Your plastic surgeon will go over what to expect with recovering from abdominoplasty along with his professional fees.  Most plastic surgeons will show you before and after photos of his surgical work.  If you are sure that this surgeon is the right one for you, then you will be asked to schedule the surgery, in which you will be asked for a deposit to hold that date.

 

 

 

  • Where are the incisions sites located for a Tummy Tuck?

Abdominoplasty comes with having scars.  The amount of skin needed to be removed, your surgeon's skill, your own body's healing ability, scarring history, and the technique that is will depend on the location of the incisions.  For most of the abdominoplasty procedures,  there will be a horizontal incision across the waist, however; this will be strategically placed so that it is hidden with underwear and a bikini.

 

 

 

  • What are the different methods of abdominoplasty available?

There are several different types of abdominoplasty.  All of them differ depending on the amount of tissue or repair that is needed.  The different types vary with the location of the initial incision points to reduce the appearance of scars.  Mini abdominoplasties are used when there are only minor amounts of loose skin and fat.  Liposuction is also used in conjunction with most abdominoplasties to help smooth out the final shape and contours.

 

 

 

  • What are the risks and complications that can arise from having an abdominoplasty?

As with any cosmetic surgery procedure, that are certain risks and complications that can happen from having an abdominoplasty.  Consulting with your plastic surgeon before the procedure will help you decide if this procedure is for you.

Anesthesia risks can happen with any surgery, make sure you read this section before making your decision.

 

 

 

  • What is the preparation for abdominoplasty?

Most plastic surgeons prefer if their patients are not smoking before the procedure, so if you smoke you should quit.  Also, make sure you tell your surgeon the medication you take on a daily basis, and this includes vitamins and over the counter remedies.  Read our section on medication to avoid before surgery.  Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin thin your blood and can increase bleeding. Also, refraining from alcohol is necessary, as this can also thin your blood. 

The shaving process will be addressed with your surgeon.  Showering with anti-bacterial soap before your procedure is recommended as well.

Medical history including all medications, allergies and previous surgeries will be discussed at the consultation.  Your surgeon will want you to have a physical examination and blood tests.  If you are over the age of 50, an electrocardiogram will be taken.  Photographs will be taken which will become a permanent part of your patient chart before and several months post operative.

Instructions will be given to you not to eat or drink anything 8 - 12 hours before the procedure.  If you take daily medication, make sure you ask your surgeon if it is okay to take this the morning of surgery.  It is important to report any sores, allergic reactions or colds immediately to your surgeon as this might delay your surgery.

You will need to have an adult drive you to and from the surgery center, and also stay with you for the first 24 - 48 hours after the procedure. 

 

 

 

  • What will take place the day of surgery?

The following will take place on the day of your surgery:

  • Abdominoplasty will take place in either your plastic surgeon's surgical facility, out-patient surgery center or local hospital.

  • Abdominoplasty takes between 2 and 5 hours depending on the partial procedures being performed.  A mini tummy tuck or partial tummy tuck lasts between 1 to 2 hours.

  • Anesthesia will be decided by your surgeon.  Normally because of the length of time that is needed for abdominoplasty, most patients receive general anesthesia.  You can have the option for twilight (local with sedation) as well. 

  • The incision is place just within or above the pubic area. The length of the incision is dependent on the type of abdominoplasty you are having and or the amount of skin that is needed to be removed.  The contour of the incision is predicated on the structure of your abdomen and the type of bathing suit or underwear you prefer. Most surgeon are able to keep the incision within the bathing suit lines.

  • The incision around the navel is the "second incision" that is made.  This is done so that the extra skin above it can be pulled down tight.  The excess abdominal skin is then removed.  The position of the navel remains unchanged.

  • The skin on the lower part of the abdomen that contains stretch marks is removed.  Some of the stretch marks might not be able to be removed, but they are flattened and improved with this surgery. 

  • If you are having a muscle repair done with the abdominoplasty, there is a tightening of the underlying abdominal muscles using permanent sutures.

 

 

 

  • Is there much pain after abdominoplasty?

Your plastic surgeon will be prescribing you medication to manage any post operative pain.  Some surgeons offer their patient a pain pump to help manage the pain for the first few days following surgery.  It is very important for the patient to take short walks after the first few days after the surgery as this helps prevent any blood clots from forming in your legs.  It also helps with the circulation of the blood which directly helps promote healing.

There will be some soreness from the procedure for the first few days, but the pain medication normally handles this effectively.  It is very important that the patient doesn't do any straining, lifting, bending,  or strenuous activity that would involve your lower body.  It is natural right after surgery to be walking hunched over, but the sooner you can walk upright with your shoulders back, the less "back pain" you will experience.

There will be some bruising, swelling, soreness and numbness after your tummy tuck procedure, but these symptoms will dissipate over the next few weeks and months.   Most surgeons use drains to help with the excess fluid that occurs from this procedure.

 

 

 

  • What is the difference between a mini tummy tuck and a full tummy tuck?

In general, most patients will benefit from the full tummy tuck procedure.  The mini tummy tuck only tightens the skin and the muscles of the lower abdominal area below the belly button.  The full tummy tuck procedure tightens all of the muscles of the upper and lower abdomen.  The full procedure removes a large amount of skin which will require repositioning of the belly button with a circular scar. The mini tummy tuck removes a smaller amount of skin and does not require repositioning of the belly button. The improvements are more dramatic with the full tummy tuck versus the mini procedure.

 

 

 

  • How long will it take to feel normal again?

Recovery from surgery varies from patient to patient.  Each individual is unique with their pain tolerance and healing time.  Most patients return to some light work or activity within several weeks after surgery, but some might take longer. It is very important that you do everything that your surgeon wants you to do post operatively, as these instructions are to ensure a recovery that is uneventful.

Doing too much too soon can set a patient back a couple of weeks in their recovery.  Always check with your own surgeon when it is safe to do certain activities.

 

 

 

  • How long does an abdominoplasty last?

Every patient is unique with longevity of this procedure. Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight or pregnancy can affect your results of your abdominoplasty.  Most women if they stick to their diet and exercise programs can maintain their new shape for many years.

 

 

 

 

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