The tummy tuck a procedure that most people have heard of. In medical circles it is referred to as abdominoplasty. It is the cosmetic procedure used to make the abdomen firmer and involves removing excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and tightening the muscle and fascia.
If you have an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging, this procedure may be right for you. Common causes of these issues are pregnancy, aging, significant weight loss, heredity and prior surgery. It’s important that you be in reasonably good health, at a stable weight and not planning on becoming pregnant if you are considering abdominoplasty. If you smoke, you’ll need to quit, as smoking actually makes it harder for your body to heal and as such, can lead to significant complications during recovery. It’s important, also, that you have and maintain realistic expectations regarding what a tummy tuck can actually accomplish.
In general, abdominoplasty is divided into categories based on the scope of the surgery. Surgery can last as little as an hour or take as long as five hours to complete.
It goes without saying that a tummy tuck is major surgery. Risks can include a bad reaction to anesthesia, hematoma (blood pooling under the skin), seroma (fluid collection), infection, emboli (anything that gets into the blood-stream, causing a blockage. Blood clots are a risk for all surgeries, but particularly major surgeries), necrosis and loss of sensitivity. As with all surgeries, there are risks such as death and massive infections but thankfully, these are very rare indeed. Hiring a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon is a very good start to avoiding most complications.
It is important to realize that while a tummy tuck can do a great deal for your body, it cannot substitute weight loss or a healthy lifestyle. A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks of make anyone love you. A tummy tuck should be considered for your own sake and because it would make you happy, not for anyone else. Plastic surgery cannot mend broken relationships or improve marriages. A tummy tuck is a wonderful option for anyone suffering from poor self-esteem or a sense of unhappiness about their body but it cannot transform anyone into perfection.
Recovery from abdominoplasty varies a bit from surgery to surgery. Depending on the type of surgery you undergo, it will take 1-4 weeks to recover from. It is wise to take at least a portion of that time off from work but your surgeon will advise you how long, based upon your individual case. Heavy activity during recovery is prohibited because your body must e allowed a chance to heal properly. Bruising and swelling are a normal part of any surgical recovery and it will take a little while for those things to dissipate. Most surgeons will recommend wearing a supportive compression garment or binder to help minimize swelling and provide support to the area. Full recovery can take anywhere from 3-6 months after surgery and the scars will take a year or more to fully fade (though they will always be there).
You will need someone to drive you home after being released and you’ll want to have your pain medication prescriptions filled beforehand. There will be pain and bending and moving will be difficult for the first few days. It is highly recommended that you arrange for someone to assist in for the first couple of days. NO heavy lifting is permitted at all and while walking around is encouraged from time to time; you will need to rest as much as possible. Planning ahead for meals, laundry, childcare and time off of work are an essential part of preparing for a tummy tuck.