Abdominoplasty: Tighten Sagging Muscles & Loose Skin
Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure that results in a more youthful and firm abdomen. While diet and exercise are traditional methods of improving our physical appearance, you cannot control where you lose your weight. Surgery can focus on the areas of concern and address them directly and more effectively. In addition, pregnancy and major weight loss also have a significant impact on body habitus which may require surgery to correct.
The abdominoplasty, aka tummy tuck, is a safe and effective plastic-surgery procedure that involves the elimination of excess fat, excess skin and tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall.
CANDIDATES FOR ABDOMINOPLASTY
People who are both medically and physically fit are good candidates for surgery. Surgery is also a motivator: In many cases, the end of the tunnel (where you would like to ultimately be) seems too far away. Surgery brings the patient closer to their goal and thus motivates them to work harder. Surgery is not an alternative to weight loss but a partner in the process. Liposuction is often combined with abdominoplasty when indicated to provide even more definition and contour.
Pregnancy affects everyone’s body differently. In some cases, it is hard to tell that a person was ever pregnant. In others, especially if they carried in front or had a large baby or twins, there may be significant changes. The muscles can separate, there may be changes in the skin, stretch mark, textural changes and excess sagging skin due to poor elasticity. Women with multiple pregnancies often find their skin stretched and sagging. All of these issues can be addressed through surgery.
Depending upon the nature and intensity of tissue alteration, an abdominoplasty can last from one to five hours. A typical abdominoplasty has the following basic steps:
- Delivering Anesthesia: The typical abdominoplasty takes 2-4 hours. The addition of liposuction to the abdomen or other adjacent areas such as the flanks (love handles) will add additional time. The typical choice for anesthesia is a general anesthetic. There may be room for alternatives based on patient preferences or the degree of what needs to be done.
- The Operation: A horizontal incision is made at the level of the pubic hairline. Depending on the amount of skin removed, there may also be an incision around the navel (bellybutton) and possibly a short vertical. The goal is that your incision is concealed in your underwear or bathing suit. The length of the incision is determined by the amount of skin removed. If liposuction is required, that takes place first. The incision is then made and the skin elevated. If there is a separation of the rectus muscles (the “abdominal muscleS” or “abs”), each of which muscles is the width of a man’s tie, that separation would be repaired at this time. The skin is then brought down like an awning and the excess skin removed. The navel is a “mushroom on a stalk”. If limited skin is to be removed then there is only a lower abdominal incision. If the majority of the skin from the pubic hairline to your navel is removed, there will also be a scar around the navel. With rare exception, all of the sutures are buried under the skin and are dissolvable.
- Recovery: Activity is limited to casual walks for the first two weeks. At that time, you can gradually increase your level of activity at your own pace based on how you feel the following day. If you feel good, do more.
Ready to learn more and if you are a candidate? If you’re feeling ready to take the next step, it’s time to contact our office for a consultation. Or to see past results for yourself, visit our abdominoplasty gallery (here) and mini abdominoplasty gallery (here). Doctors Roger Friedman, Douglas Forman, and Kathy Huang are board-certified plastic surgeons and will be happy to help. At the time of your consultation, the procedure will be reviewed, you will be shown typical patient examples and then examined and imaged to better assist you in appreciating the goals of surgery.