Surgical Spotlight: Tummy Tuck

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Tummy tuck, also referred to as abdominoplasty, is the most common procedure performed to remove excess loose skin on the lower abdomen. In our practice, at Beachwood • Westlake Plastic Surgery, drgoldman.com, we really emphasize achieving an hourglass contour to the abdomen or belly. We want as flat an abdomen as possible, but also a nice indentation at the narrowest portion of the abdominal contour. This involves not just removing excess skin, but also performing liposuction to the flanks or sides of the abdomen and tightening the abdominal wall by putting sutures on top of the abdominal muscles. These sutures go on top of the rectus abdominis or washboard muscles to both flatten the abdomen and emphasize an hour glass shape.

The incisions for the abdominoplasty are nice, low, curved incision at the waistline. This is a fairly long incision generally extending across the front of the abdomen. A second incision is placed around the belly button in such a way that this scar tucks into the belly button. Most of our patients feel comfortable in a two-piece bathing suit after this procedure. We also try to keep the waistline scar low so that wearing low-cut clothing is also a possibility after the surgery. It is important to note that any scar really takes a year or two to fully heal. Anytime somebody gets surgery or stitches for a cut, the scars can be expected to be somewhat red for several weeks after the procedure, and then will gradually fade. So the incisions become less and less noticeable over time. The exact length of the scar varies per patient based on how much skin excess and skin looseness there is. View some before and after pictures on our website.

Typical recovery from an abdominoplasty is as follows: Patients go home after surgery and are encouraged to walk around at home with assistance that evening. The earlier that movement is achieved generally, the less pain the patient will experience. Oral narcotics like Percocet® are commonly used to diminish postoperative pain. Most patients feel that the abdomen is tight and sore for three to five days after surgery. Most patients do not require narcotics beyond this time frame. There is a lot of variability and some patients report minimal pain after surgery and some patients report pain that requires narcotics for more than five days. Nonetheless, people are walking, most patients are driving less than a week out from surgery. Most patients return to work in two weeks, although some in fact return in one week. In general, abdominoplasty is associated with more postoperative pain than breast augmentation or rhinoplasty, for instance. There is usually bruising and swelling that last for two to three weeks. Most patients feel comfortable in a swimsuit at three weeks. Patients feel comfortable in clothing out of the house essentially immediately.

It is important to note that abdominoplasty is not a weight loss procedure. In order to achieve a flat well contoured abdomen, patients must be close to their ideal body weight. Every patient needs to be evaluated individually since everyone has a different shape. There are some patients that can have an excellent result even though they are a little bit above their ideal body weight. Patients will not see a significant difference in their body weight on the scale after this procedure since the removed fat and excess skin generally does not actually weigh that much.

After surgery, patients typically wear a post-surgical compression garment. This is Lycra. It is basically similar to Spanks® and can be worn under regular clothes. The garment is usually worn almost all day long for three weeks and then with less frequency thereafter. We do generally use drains for this procedure, which reduce postoperative bruising and swelling. Drains are not always necessary, but without them, patients may have more bruising, swelling, and pain.

Some patients are a candidate for a mini abdominoplasty. These patients generally have good aesthetics above the umbilicus (belly button). So if the main problem is lucency of the skin and muscle below the belly button, a mini tummy tuck may be a possibility. This scar is in fact almost as long as a full tummy tuck scar (usually about 2/3 of a full tummy tuck scar length). Patients who have had a C-section and have skin hanging over their C-section scar are often ideal candidates for a mini tummy tuck.

Liposuction alone may be useful if patients have a significant thickness to the fat underneath their skin without a lot of loose skin or loose muscle. Loose muscle is usually related to prior pregnancy, weight loss, or aging.

The cost for an abdominoplasty varies based on whether a full or mini abdominoplasty as necessary, whether additional liposuction away from the abdomen (for instance on the thighs) is performed, and other factors. In general, a straight forward abdominoplasty with liposuction of the abdomen and flanks is approximately $8000 to $10,000.

For further information or to schedule a consultation, contact Beachwood Plastic Surgery or Westlake Plastic Surgery.

East (216) 514-8899 | West (440) 871-8899