Tummy Tuck FAQs

Abdominoplasty – Tummy Tuck Information

Abdominoplasty or ”tummy tuck“, is surgery to remove excess fat and skin from the abdomen, and also to tighten belly  muscles. Tummy tuck surgery with liposuction can dramatically improve the appearance of a protruding abdomen and restore flat tummy.

Dr. Tavallali can assist those patients who have large fat deposits that do not respond to diet or exercise or have had weight loss after bariatric surgery and who wish to change their appearance to more closely resembles their self- image.

Before  Tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty
A thorough medical history is needed to identify those patients who may be at increased risk for complications. Diabetics, smokers, previous abdominal surgery, or a history of pulmonary embolism may require steps to decrease risks. Patients are encouraged to lose weight by means of diet and exercise before contemplating surgery. Women who plan future pregnancy should postpone surgery till at least six months after delivery.

With small to moderate excess of fat and normal skin elasticity liposuction alone may be best. Fat is suctioned from the skin through small incisions. Skin then redrapes over contoured fat. No skin is excised.

Mini-Abdominoplasty / tummy tuck
For patients with poor skin elasticity and moderate excess fatty tissue, a mini tummy tuck or Abdominoplasty may be required. If the excess fat is limited to the lower abdomen and abdominal muscles are not weak, the patient may benefit from a mini-Abdominoplasty. In mini tummy tuck, excess skin and fat of lower abdomen are removed through an incision above the pubic area with care being taken to hide the scar within the ”bikini line“. The upper abdomen is then liposuctioned.

Both of the above procedures can be carried out as an out patient and last 2 – 3 hours. Within 3 -5 days recovery is enough to allow patients to return to sedentary work. Exercise is allowed in one month.

Full Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
For patients with a combination of poor skin quality, excess fat and weakened abdominal muscles, then a full tummy tuck is necessary. In  full Abdominoplasty abdominal muscles are tightened and all skin between belly button and pubis is removed. The umbilicus is kept on a stalk and a new  “button hole” is created on the abdominal wall.  Like a mini-tummy tuck a horizontal scar is created in the ”bikini line“. Tummy tuck is an outpatient surgery and takes 2-3 hours. Discomfort is controlled with oral medication, and most patients are back to work within 10 – 14 days, although swelling and soreness may persist for months. Exercise is permitted one month after surgery.

Risks of Abdominoplasty  – tummy tuck
As in any surgery,  tummy tuck surgery has risks. Thousands of abdominoplasties are performed successfully each year with very satisfying results. Luckily, major complications are rare and minor complications, when they do occur are easily treated. Infections, fluid collections and minor wound healing problems are usually self-limited. The most serious complication, that of a pulmonary embolus due to blood clots in legs is also one rare, and its treatment may require hospitalization. Smokers are advised to stop smoking for at least two weeks before a tummy tuck.

How long does tummy tuck – abdominoplasty surgery take?

Surgery takes between 2-3 hours depending on the size of the patient and areas of liposuction being performed at the same sitting. The surgery is outpatient unless the patient has partcular needs that require a one night hospital stay.

How long is the recovery after a tummy tuck?

Most patients return to activities of daily living within a week after a mini-abdominoplasty and within 10-14 days after a full tummy tuck. Swelling will persist for up to 6 months. Patients can resume gentle exercise after two weeks and increase the amount as tolerated.

What are the risks of abdominoplasty surgery?

As with any surgical procedure there are risks of infection and bleeding that can occur.
Specific risks of tummy tuck – abdominoplasty include deep vein thrombosis in legs and pulmonary embolus, which can be a serious complication. It is imperative that patients are up and walking the day after tummy tuck surgery to minimize this risk. Other risks include wound separation (which can usually be treated with dressings), and numbness above the pubis that is persistent.

What type of anesthesia is used in tummy tucks?

General anesthesia is necessary for these procedures.

What technique is used in tummy tucks?

The skin between the umbilicus and the pubis is removed in a full tummy tuck, along with liposuction of the abdomen and tightening of the muscles of the abdomen. In a mini-tummy tuck, liposuction is performed but only a few inches of the skin of the lower portion of the abdomen are removed. This procedure is best for the few patients who have minimal skin laxity.

Is there much discomfort after a tummy tuck?

Tightening of muscles leads to a cramping type of pain that is best relieved using a combination of pain medications. Discomfort is usually less by the 3rd day  and the more patients move, the less pain!