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Known more commonly as a "tummy tuck" is a major surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. The procedure can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen.
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are men or women who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by a large fat deposit or loose abdominal skin that won't respond to diet or exercise. The surgery is particularly helpful to women who, through multiple pregnancies have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients, which frequently occurs with slight obesity, can also be improved.
The tummy tuck operation is usually carried out under general anesthesia.The surgical procedure starts with a long incision across the hipbone directly above the pubic area. Another cut is then made to remove the belly button from the original tissue in order to place it back after the surgery is complete.
The next step is to separate the skin from the lower torso area of the pubic area to the ribcage, revealing the muscles underneath. The exposed muscles are then stitched together which forces them to conform to their new position. This will create a more toned and defined waistline. The skin is then pulled down to the area of the initial incision, sown together and any excess skin is surgically removed. A new cut is then made for the navel and gauze bandages and a temporary tube to drain away excess fluid.
Recovery after Tummy Tuck
I encourage my patients to get out of bed for short walks the day after surgery, to promote blood circulation. I recommend to avoid straining, bending and lifting, since these activities might cause increased swelling or even bleeding. You may be instructed to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.
Any surgical drains probably will be removed within a week following surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed. Depending on the abdominoplasty technique used, you may be instructed to wear a support garment for several weeks. Generally, stitches will be removed in stages over a period of approximately one or two weeks in the center or hospital.
You will notice swelling and bruising, which is to be expected, and much it will disappear over a period of weeks.
Getting back to normal
It varies greatly among individuals. Depending on the extent of your abdominoplasty and your general physical condition, you may be able to return to non-strenuous work anywhere from one to three weeks after surgery at the clinic. In many instances, I find patients in a position to resume most of their normal activities, including some form of mild exercise, after a few weeks. You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort and swelling during this time, but such feelings are normal.