Abdominoplasty, commonly known as a Tummy Tuck, is a procedure designed to reshape and contour a patient’s belly. It offers a solution to those patients who, despite a responsible diet and exercise, still struggle with a protruding tummy or loose and sagging skin in the abdominal area.
Who is a candidate for this type of surgery?
The best candidates for a tummy tuck are men and women who are in good physical condition and have a localized deposit of adipose tissue, sagging skin on abdomen, stretch marks, previous scars, or loss of muscle tone. Those who are concerned about the accumulation of fat or excess skin in the abdomen, and who despite having tried different diets or physical exercise, cannot get rid of this excess.
This surgery is especially useful in women who have had several pregnancies, after which the skin and abdominal muscles relax and fail to regain their initial tone. Patients who need to lose a considerable amount of weight should postpone surgery; as should those patients who intend to become pregnant in the future, since the vertical muscles of the abdomen are tightened during the surgery and may relax again during the course of pregnancy.
What is the tummy tuck for?
This surgery helps to remove excess skin that occurs due to weight loss, previous pregnancies or sagging tissues. It also works on fat deposits that do not respond adequately to diet and exercise and helps correct a prominent abdomen by strengthening the muscles of the abdominal wall by eliminating excess skin and also helping to reduce abdominal stretch marks.
What does this surgery consist of?
An abdominoplasty involves the removal of excess skin and fat, as well as the repair of weak or separated abdominal muscles. Dr. Campos-Leon places the patient under general anesthesia or sedation. Then Dr. Campos-Leon makes a horizontal incision between the pubic line and the navel.
After lifting the skin along the incision, Dr. Campos-Leon repairs the musculature. He then makes a second incision across the excess skin to remove it, then pulls down the upper skin flap to meet the lower abdomen and creates an opening for the navel. Sutures, tapes, and other surgical tools are used to allow Dr. Campos-Leon to close the incision. The end result is an aesthetic, flatter, and firmer belly.
Abdominoplasty and mini-abdominoplasty with or without circumferential liposuction are always performed in the operating room, within a clinic, under strict aseptic conditions.
What kind of anesthesia is used?
The type of anesthesia most used to perform a tummy tuck is general anesthesia, during which the patient remains in a state of sleep until the end of the surgery. In some cases, especially in mini-abdominoplasty and abdominal liposuction, epidural anesthesia can be used, so that during the intervention the patient is awake but relaxed and the region of the abdomen is totally insensitive to pain.
What is the necessary aftercare?
After the procedure, dressings or bandages are applied to the areas of incisions. Compression garments must be worn during recovery to minimize swelling and support the abdomen as it heals. A drainage system is inserted near the incisions in order to drain excess blood or fluid that may collect. Dr. Campos-Leon will provide more details about aftercare following the procedure.
During the first days, the abdomen may be swollen and some discomfort or pain may appear. These symptoms can be controlled with medication that the doctor indicates. Depending on the extent of the surgery, the patient will be discharged after a few hours, or may remain in hospital for 1 to 2 days. At first it will be necessary to avoid all kinds of physical efforts, however walking will be very important. The external skin points will be removed between 7 and 21 days after the procedure, and the suction drainage one week later.
Some symptoms that may occur:
Moderate pain may appear in the immediate postoperative period, and is relieved with analgesics.
Small bleeding and / or sero-bloody discharge from the incision in the first 48 hours.
Slight increase in temperature (up to 38º C) in the first 48 hours.
Swelling in the abdomen and pubic region. This gradually diminishes, disappearing around the third week.
Small bruises in the abdominal region, which will gradually disappear around the fourth week.
Sensitivity of the abdomen will decrease in the postoperative period, progressively normalizing.
ARE THERE RISKS?
There are countless cases of abdominoplasty performed successfully, however, the concern of patients undergoing this type of procedure is normal. When this is done by a qualified surgeon, the results are usually optimal, so it is important to always go to professionals. However, whenever surgery is performed, there are risks, as well as complications related to this particular procedure. The complications that can occur with this surgery are infection or venous thrombi, however they are not frequent. The infection is resolved with antibiotics and drainage; whereas venous thrombi can be prevented with leg movement as soon as surgery allows. Poor healing can produce a noticeable scar that may require surgical correction. However, all these risks can be reduced by carefully following the instructions provided by the surgeon before and after surgery, especially those that are necessary to resume physical activity.
The result of this surgery is a youthful-looking abdomen, flat, firm skin, an aesthetic navel, a more accentuated waist, and the disappearance of stretch marks. The classic abdominoplasty or mini-abdominoplasty with liposuction of the body contour provides excellent results in patients whose abdominal muscles are weak and have excess skin and fat. In most cases, the results are definitive, as long as they are accompanied by a balanced diet and regular exercise.
This surgery is most effective for healthy adults. It is not a substitute for a proper diet and exercise to achieve weight reduction, as these are still necessary in order to maintain results.