What to expect from a tummy tuck

For some, no matter how much exercise they do on a regular basis and no matter how well they eat, their...

For some, no matter how much exercise they do on a regular basis and no matter how well they eat, their stomach just will not flatten. There are many reasons why this could occur, including age, hormones, loose skin from rapid weight loss, and pregnancy. While some of these issues are reversible, some are not. Therefore, the need for a tummy tuck becomes a reality. Not only does this cosmetic surgery procedure remove access fat from the patient's abdomen, but it removes the excess skin as well. Tightening of the muscles also occurs during this procedure to help patients receive an abdomen that is smoother and flatter than it was prior to the surgery.

Is it a good choice for you?

Patients who are at a stable weight and who are non-smokers are good candidates for this cosmetic surgery. Even though many believe this is a weight loss surgery, this is not correct. A consultation will occur between the patient and her physician prior to securing an appointment for the surgery. That way, the patient will have a clear picture of what to expect and determine if this surgery is the best option for them. This consultation will also provide the patient with the opportunity to ask questions, discuss any additional cosmetic surgeries she is interested in exploring and obtain associated cost information for each procedure.

This surgery is meant to help patients achieve contouring when they have a protruding abdomen due to excess fat and skin concentrated in that area. That way, once the surgery is complete and healing has occurred, the abdomen is in proper proportion with the rest of the patient's body. Patients should have a firm understanding of this procedure before enduring it so they are not placing unrealistic expectations on the outcome. Once the healing process has occurred, it will be the patient's responsibility to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a proper diet and exercise routine. That way, abdominal muscles will stay tight and excess fat will not accumulate.

Preparing for it

A patient's health status must be determined and verified through lab testing ordered by the physician prior to the surgery. One or two weeks before the surgery, physicians may require that their patients make adjustments to or stop taking certain medications. They will also require patients to avoid ingestion of over-the-counter medications and supplements that could cause increased bleeding, such as herbs, aspirin and some anti-inflammatories for a period of two weeks. During their initial physician consultation, patients should bring in a list of all of their medications, vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter remedies they use. Physicians will provide clear instructions as to what should be avoided or adjusted, how long this should occur and why this should occur.

How is a tummy tuck performed?

These are the steps taken to perform the procedure:

  • Patient receives anesthesia from the anesthesiologist.
  • Physician makes incisions in the abdomen.
  • Physician repairs separated or weakened muscles in the abdomen.
  • All excess fat and skin is removed from the abdominal area.
  • Physician places the navel in a new location.
  • Physician closes incisions.
  • Bandages are placed over incision site.

What happens after surgery

In order to minimize swelling during healing, patients may have to wear tightly wrapped gauze or a compression garment. There will also be bandages covering the surgical site. In some cases, small plastic tubes are inserted to help drain excess fluids. Patients should be prepared to return for a follow-up visit and to have stitches removed if they do not dissolve. Patients will be sent home with aftercare instructions to help with healing and pain management. This aftercare plan will also help educate family and friends regarding the patient's limitations and healing requirements.

What are some complications?

  • Blood clots throughout the body, including in the legs
  • Cardiac issues
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Loose skin, discoloration or skin loss
  • Nerve damage and problems with sensations
  • Problems with anesthesia
  • Scarring and swelling

There is always a risk of complications with any type of surgery. These can be infections and even death. However, statistics show a 0.02 percent death rate from this type of plastic surgery, on par with C-sections. There is a higher risk of complications if the person smokes, has cancer or has a history of blood clots. Always talk with your doctor if you have any of these risk factors or if you are taking birth control pills. He or she can assess your risk and let you know ahead of time the complications you may be facing.

What happens during recovery

For about a week following surgery, it will be difficult to stand up straight. This is a normal recovery condition, in addition to feeling weak throughout the abdominal area. Patients who are employed can expect to return to work between one and three weeks following surgery so long as non-strenuous work is involved. For a minimum of two weeks, patients should abstain from sexual activities. Most patients can participate in mild exercise routines between three and four weeks following surgery. However, if the patient's body is telling them otherwise, longer periods of time should occur.

Atlanta plastic surgeons can answer any and all questions regarding this procedure, including whether it will benefit you and the costs associated with it. Give any of them a call today to get your questions answered.

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