Tummy Tuck – The Basics

An abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure that will remove excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen and tighten the abdominal muscles.

An incision is made across the lower abdomen from hipbone to hipbone. A second incision is made around the belly button. The skin and fat are separated from the abdominal wall. Esxcess skin and fat are then excised. The abdominal muscles are tightened by shortening and suturing them together. A small incision creates a new opening for the belly button. It is brought out through the opening sutured to the new skin. Stretch marks and scars may be removed during surgery.  

Drains may be placed in the skin and removed a few days later. The drains reduce swelling by collecting excess blood and fluid. All incisions are closed. The procedure is usually performed in a hospital or surgical center with an overnight stay.

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

A mini tummy tuck, or partial abdominoplasty, may be recommended for patients that are within 10% of their ideal body weight. This procedure is less invasive and can be done on an outpatient basis. While a full tummy tuck involves an incision around the navel and across the lower abdomen, a mini tummy tuck leaves the navel intact and requires a smaller incision. Liposuction is sometimes employed and the fat is removed from below the navel, tightening muscles from the navel to the pubis.  

If your abdominal muscles require more extensive tightening and your body weight is more than 20% above your ideal weight, your plastic surgeon is more likely to recommend a full abdominoplasty. This frequently is performed with liposuction to obtain the best results.

What should you expect at your consultation?

At your initial consultation, your plastic surgeon will evaluate your health, determine the extent of fat deposits in your abdomen, and assess your skin tone. Be specific about what you would like done. If your plastic surgeon fully understands your expectations, he’ll be able to determine whether your goals are realistic.

What can you expect from your recovery from a tummy tuck?

Pain Level: Moderate to severe discomfort. 1-2 weeks of pain medication
Swelling: 2-6 weeks
Numbness: 6 months or more
Bandages: Changed in 2-5 days (sutures removed first 7-10 days)
Work: Return to desk job after 1 week, other jobs 10-14 days
Exercise: Wait 4-8 weeks
Final result: After scars heal, approximately 6 months-1 year

For the first few days after surgery, the abdomen will probably be swollen and some pain and discomfort may occur, which can be controlled by medication. Depending on the extent of the surgery, you may be released within a few hours or remain hospitalized for two to three days.   The incisions will be covered with surgical tape for two weeks to insure proper healing.   

For information on results and recovery, speak with your board certified plastic surgeon. Carefully follow your doctor’s advice to best assure proper healing and lasting results. These are general guidelines. The doctors here at Holzapfel & Lied Plastic Surgery will know your case best and can help guide you in a recovery plan that suits you best.  

If you’re interested in a tummy tuck, call us at Holzapfel & Lied Plastic Surgery for a consultation at (513) 984-FACE in Cincinnati, (859) 331-9600 in Northern Kentucky, or (970) 766-FACE in the Vail Valley of Colorado.

Tummy Tuck - The Basics
Posted in Body Procedures.