Weight fluctuations and pregnancies can cause excess skin and fat in the abdomen, as well as stretch marks and a separation of the midline muscles, resulting in bulging. These conditions can be corrected by a Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty), which is perhaps the most popular body contouring surgery. The outcome is a flatter stomach and reduced waistline.
If you only have excess stomach fat with no lax skin or muscle separation, lipoplasty may be sufficient to produce your desired results. Otherwise, a Tummy Tuck removes the fat and excess skin by excision, as well as tightens the separated muscles. Lipoplasty may also be used to blend the periphery.
While a Tummy Tuck is a common surgery, your procedure must be customized for you, so your choice of surgeon is very important. Dr. Clinton gives all of his patients a great deal of one-on-one attention. He’s a great listener and is empathetic to your concerns. Most importantly, he has the training and experience to evaluate your case carefully and create a unique surgical plan for you.
He received his plastic surgery training at Duke – one of the country’s most prestigious universities – and he spent years in trauma care focusing on the field of aesthetics. He also performs many reconstructive surgeries every year. As a result, he has the experience to work on even the most complex of cases.
Abdominoplasty is often combined with other surgeries, such as breast enhancement or other body contouring procedures, and is usually part of a Mommy Makeover. Bear in mind that a tummy tuck is not a weight loss procedure. Patients should be as close to their goal weight as possible. A subsequent loss of weight could cause a recurrence of lax skin. A Tummy Tuck should not complicate any subsequent pregnancies, but it might cause the abdominal muscles to separate again.
What Happens During a Tummy Tuck?
Tummy Tucks are usually performed as an outpatient procedure under a light general anesthetic, but some patients may need an overnight hospital stay with early discharge the next morning.
The classic incisions are placed as low as possible along the lower limits of the abdomen so that the scars will remain hidden under clothing (even bathing suits). In instances where there is a great deal of lax skin, however, which is most often the case with post-bariatric patients, the incisions will need to extend as far as the skin that must be excised. In a circumferential abdominoplasty, the incision is made all the way around the torso.
Dr. Clinton may choose to use lipoplasty or liposuction to remove the excess fat tissue in an effort to blend the periphery. This is done with a tube called a cannula which is inserted through a small (new or existing) incision and attached to a machine that suctions the fat. Excess skin and fat is excised, and muscles are tightened. If necessary, the belly button is repositioned.
After the appropriate time in our recovery room, you can go home in the care of a friend or family member. You should not drive for 24 hours, due to the effects of the anesthesia.
What Can I Expect During Recovery from a Tummy Tuck?
We will send you home with written instructions for how to take care of yourself after your surgery. This will be a reinforcement of verbal instructions that you will receive on several occasions. You will also be evaluated no later than the day after your procedure and monitored during your recovery period. We encourage you to call us if you have any questions at all.
Some bruising, swelling, and discomfort are expected after surgery. Swelling is usually the last side effect to go away completely. The scars will improve over time, and we will give you instructions to speed their healing.
If you experience pain, you can take oral medications. Non-prescription meds are usually sufficient, but if you need something stronger, please use the prescription provided.
Compression garments must be worn for one month full-time, and half the time for an additional two weeks. You must avoid heavy lifting and any strenuous activity or “straining” for two weeks.
Most patients return to office work within 2 weeks, but we will discuss this with you based on your individual case. We will provide you with a post-operative plan to help you return to all normal day-to-day activities as soon as possible.
Results can be long-term but are certainly impacted by weight loss/gain, pregnancy, environmental factors, and the natural aging process.