Nowadays there is an impressive amount of information online that can be accessed. This makes many prospective patients feel that they already know everything there is to know about a certain procedure, even before meeting the plastic surgeon. While a patient’s education is very important, there are things that only your plastic surgeon will be able to tell you because he is the one that can properly assess your particular case with its characteristics.
Abdominoplasty is not a one-size-fits-all procedure. The tummy tuck is customized to address the needs and requirements of each individual patient. Even if you have already performed an extensive research online about the tummy tuck surgery, there are still some things that you will need to get an answer from your plastic surgeon.
Things that your plastic surgeon should tell you about the tummy tuck:
1. If the tummy tuck is the right procedure that will correct your body imperfections
The tummy tuck is recommended for men and women who are in good shape and present a skin sagginess on the abdominal area. The sagginess is also often associated with a persistent layer of adipose tissue that is resistant to diet and physical exercise. The best candidates for the tummy tuck fulfill these conditions:
– Have excess of droopy, sagging skin on the abdomen;
– The abdomen is protruding and is not proportional with the rest of the body;
– The muscles of the abdomen are loose because of multiple pregnancies or old age;
– There is a consistent layer of adipose tissue under the skin of the tummy.
If you plan to get pregnant again after the tummy tuck or want to follow a weight loss program, don’t forget to talk about this with your plastic surgeon before scheduling your intervention. Your plastic surgeon might recommend you to postpone the procedure until you are done having children and you are happy with your body weight. Any ulterior weight fluctuations can alter the results of your tummy tuck. Putting on or losing weight can cause the same amount of damage to a flat and smooth tummy that was achieved with the help of an abdominoplasty intervention.
2. What happens during the consultation
Usually during the consultation, the plastic surgeon needs to evaluate your physical and emotional condition. You should be ready to offer complete information about certain aspects such as previous surgical interventions, past or current conditions that required a medical or surgical treatment, and past or current conditions that are treated with natural supplements.
Your plastic surgeon also has to assess the quality of the skin on your abdomen, the quantity of tissue that needs to be removed, and the status of the abdominal muscles. Moreover, he will check for existing scars from previous interventions on the abdominal area.
Aside from providing information about the procedure and determining your eligibility, your surgeon might also suggest additional or complementary treatment options to achieve superior results. For example, some patients might need liposuction performed on the upper part of the abdomen. Others might be interested in achieving an hourglass shape. To get this result, the surgeon will combine the tummy tuck with liposuction and fat transfer to the hips.
3. How the surgeon will perform the procedure
Generally speaking, a horizontal incision is used to correct the abdominal sagginess and to remove the excess fat and tissue. The incision is placed just on top of the pubic area so it can be easily masked by underwear. The length of the incision is usually between the two hip bones, but it depends upon the amount of tissue that will be removed during the procedure. As a rule of thumb, the larger the amount of skin and fat to be removed, the bigger the incision will be.
The plastic surgeon will only remove the skin on the lower part of the abdomen. If the patient has stretch marks in that area, as a benefit they will be removed as well. However, if the stretch marks are in the upper abdominal area, they are most likely to remain after the procedure. What the plastic surgeon will do is to separate the excess skin on the upper part of the abdomen from the deep tissues and pull it toward the pubic area to excise the excess fat and skin. The navel is then repositioned afterwards.
4. Types of tummy tucks available
There are multiple surgical methods to perform a tummy tuck such as the mini tummy tuck, the complete tummy tuck, and the extended tummy tuck. The hourglass tummy tuck is also a method that will provide the patient with the most desired hourglass figure, aside from a flatter abdominal area.
The traditional tummy tuck is not the best solution for patients wanting to have a flat abdomen with curves. A better waist-to-hip ratio can only be achieved with the help of fat transfer to the hips. Combining the tummy tuck with liposuction and fat transfer to the hips can offer significantly superior results.
5. Risks involved
Each year, there are tens of thousands of people undergoing this procedure without experiencing any significant complications. During the consultation with your surgeon, he can tell you more about the risks and complications that can occur for your particular case. The general complications that can occur are specific to other surgeries performed on an elective basis or not.
6. How to get ready for the tummy tuck
Once you have decided to undergo the tummy tuck procedure, the plastic surgeon will give you all the necessary information for pre-operative care. In most cases, you will be asked to avoid medications that can cause complications such as anti-inflammatory pills, birth control pills, and natural supplements. Smoking is strongly discouraged before and after the procedure for at least two weeks or a month as it can lead to skin necrosis and other complications due to the lack of proper blood oxygenation. Blood tests will be required before the procedure to help the surgeon evaluate your physical condition.
The tummy tuck surgery is performed under general anesthetic, and after the surgery, your plastic surgeon will prescribe antibiotics and pain medication. Make sure you ask someone to drive you home from the medical facility and assist you with the daily chores for at least a day or two after the procedure.
7. What to expect during the recovery period
After surgery, you will have drain tubes inserted on each side of the abdomen at the incision level. The drain tubes will be removed when the fluid discharge stops. Usually, this doesn’t take longer than two or three days. A compressive girdle will be placed on the area treated, and the patient is required to wear it for at least a few weeks, if not months after the procedure. The girdle will offer support to the abdominal muscles while also helping the skin adjust to the new contours and reduce the swelling and bruising. The girdle is an essential aspect to consider if you want to achieve superior results.
A certain level of pain and discomfort is to be expected during the first week after the surgery, as well as a tension or numbness on the area operated. These are all normal side effects of the surgery, and the plastic surgeon should talk to you about them.
The tummy tuck is very popular nowadays because it can provide an immediate, visible difference to your abdomen. Many patients find this change boosting for their self-esteem.
Moreover, the tummy tuck provides long term results, with the exception of patients who undergo a considerable weight gain after the procedure. The procedure is complex and there are many surgical options that can be used to perform it. This is why researching online can’t give you a complete idea of what to expect during and after surgery. There is information that you can only get from the plastic surgeon that will perform your intervention. This information is not a secret, but the surgery is highly customized depending on the patient, and the plastic surgeon will be the one assessing your personal characteristics.