Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Introduction

A flat and well-toned abdomen is something many strive for through weight control and regular exercise. But regardless of effort, sometimes these methods cannot achieve the desired goal. Even those of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The most common causes of this include heredity, multiple pregnancies, prior surgery, significant weight fluctuations, or spine abnormalities that affect posture. For those who desire a tighter, flatter abdomen, a tummy tuck may be an option to help achieve this goal. In general, a tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat, and tightens weakened or separated abdominal muscles, improving the abdominal appearance from the bottom of the breast bone to the top of the pubic bone. A modified version, or “mini tummy tuck”, is sometimes an alternative for those whose problem is less severe, limited to below the belly button.

Tummy Tuck Overview

Tummy Tuck, technically known as Abdominoplasty, is the common term for the surgical procedure to tighten lax, sagging skin of the abdomen, as well as improve a protruding abdomen as a result of lax muscles in the abdominal wall. Areas to be treated may be limited to the lower abdomen below the belly button (mini tummy tuck), or may extend to the entire area of the abdomen, from the bottom of the breast bone and rib cage to the top of the pubic bone.

Abdominal contouring may be performed using a variety of surgical techniques, depending on what the problems are. If there is no skin excess, the skin elasticity is good, and localized fat is the only problem, abdominal contour surgery may be performed using only liposuction techniques. If loose, sagging skin is present with excess fat, then a tummy tuck is necessary to remove skin and fat by excision. Abdominal muscles that have weakened or separated, a condition called diastasis, are also corrected with a tummy tuck. During the closure of the procedure, the umbillicus (belly button) is repositioned and reshaped. Previous abdominal surgery may limit the potential results of a tummy tuck. In contrast, women who have undergone cesarean section, the existing scars are usually incorporated into the new incisions, and thereby removed.

For those whose abdominal findings are limited below the umbillicus, specifically excess skin and lax muscles, a mini tummy tuck, a much less extensive procedure, is sometimes an alternative. Liposuction is often used in conjunction with a mini tummy tuck to remove the localized fat both above and below the umbillicus.

As with any surgery, there are potential risks and trade-offs associated with a tummy tuck, and Dr. Rasmussen strives to prevent these. The greatest trade-off for this procedure is scarring. Widening or thickening of the scars are possible, and certain techniques are used by Dr. Rasmussen intraoperatively to minimize these. Furthermore, the patient is given postoperative care instructions to help limit poor scarring. Discussion of this is included in the comprehensive consultation with Dr. Rasmussen.

It must be understood that a tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or exercise program. Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant weight fluctuations. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering becoming pregnant in the future are advised to postpone a tummy tuck. In addition, aging and loss of skin elasticity also effect abdominal shape. As with all cosmetic procedures, realistic expectations are the key to satisfaction.

Other body contouring procedures may be performed separately or in the same surgical session as a tummy tuck. However, many patients are not good candidates for combined procedures as it may increase their risks. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis.

Tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia and Dr. Rasmussen recommends her patients stay overnight in the hospital. Significant activity restrictions are required for the first 1 to 2 weeks and then activities are eventually advanced to normal. Due to the extent of the surgery, swelling can persist for at least 3 to 6 months. Compression garments and Endermologie® are incorporated into the postoperative regimen to expedite healing and optimize results. Continued flattening and fading of the scars occur for 1 to 2 years. Mini tummy tuck, since it is a much less extensive surgery, has a much less extensive recuperation and healing process.