Getting a flat, toned, and smooth abdomen is a goal many people aspire to. Unfortunately, there can be some significant obstacles to achieving this goal, as the stomach area is prone to developing excess fat, sagging skin, and loose muscles over time. Pregnancy, massive weight loss (such as from gastric bypass surgery), and aging are all common reasons that abdominal skin and muscles can become stretched out. In many cases, these problems simply cannot be solved with traditional methods of diet and exercise alone. In these cases, surgery is the only way to regain a tight, smooth abdominal area. While skin can and does stretch and tighten with changes to the body, there is only so much that can be done to repair the abdominal aesthetics without a procedure known as an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck.
A tummy tuck is a popular procedure that is performed to remove excess fat and skin from the abdominal area, and, for many patients, to tighten and restore the stomach muscles to their former shape and positioning. Benefits of a tummy tuck include a smoother, firmer midsection with improved overall contour that can be a fantastic confidence-booster.
There are several variations on the tummy tuck, and the procedure can be customized to suit each patient’s specific needs. The basic tummy tuck involves working with the abdomen from the hip up to the bottom of the rib cage, but more or less extensive procedures can be performed if appropriate. A mini tummy tuck is also a popular procedure, and focuses solely on the area below the belly button.
If you are interested in tummy tuck surgery, then your first step is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Alvarez in Miami. During your consultation, you will discuss your goals and motivations for abdominoplasty and find out if you are a good candidate for the procedure. Aside from clearing you for surgery, the consultation is a great opportunity to get to know Dr. Alvarez and find out if abdominoplasty is right for you. You’ll get a chance to ask any questions you may have about the procedure and start to plan the surgery that is right for you.
Abdominoplasty is a fairly major procedure, and it is important for prospective patients to be physically and emotionally prepared for the surgery. First, candidates for tummy tuck must be in general good health. Some health conditions and prescriptions can make the surgery unsafe, and safety is paramount in cosmetic procedures. Second, candidates should have realistic expectations for the results, and understand the limitations of the procedure. Finally, patients should be at a stable weight that is at or near any weight loss goals before seeking out abdominoplasty. Only you and your surgeon can decide if you are a good candidate for the procedure.
The classic tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia, though the surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to return home the same day. An incision is made from hip to hip in a full tummy tuck, strategically placed so as to be hidden beneath underwear or a bikini bottom. Once the incision is made, excess, stretched out skin is removed, so the remaining skin can be tightened. Liposuction is commonly performed in the flanks, to remove excess fat. Following that, the abdominal muscles will be rejoined and tightened before the incisions are closed and sutures are placed.
The abdominoplasty recovery takes some time, and patients should expect to devote at least 1-2 weeks exclusively to resting and healing. Pain and discomfort are to be expected, particularly if the procedure involves muscle tightening. However, pain medications will be used to help keep patients comfortable.
Following the procedure, drain tubes may be used to prevent fluid from accumulating in the abdomen. These are removed in a follow-up visit about 7-14 days following surgery. After the surgery, patients will need to wear a special compression garment for several weeks. Patients will experience swelling and bruising that should gradually subside over a few weeks. Most people find they can return to work after about 7-10 days, but some may need more time to recover. While everyday activities can be gradually re-introduced after the first week or two, vigorous exercise must be avoided for 4-6 weeks. As the swelling subsides, patients will be able to see the results emerge.
Choosing the Right Surgeon
Finding the right surgeon can be a difficult task, but it is important to do your research and choose a provider who has the skill and experience to give you the results you want. Because the tummy tuck is such an invasive surgery, you will want to choose a doctor who takes safety seriously, and never choose a provider you don’t fully trust. It’s often a good idea to meet with several plastic surgeons before making a decision.
How extensive are tummy tuck scars?
Unfortunately, the scar that results from a traditional tummy tuck is quite large. The incision is placed strategically so that the scar can be covered with a standard bikini bottom, but patients must understand that the long scar from a tummy tuck (typically running hip to hip) is a tradeoff for the great results that can be achieved with the procedure. Most prospective patients feel that the results are worth the scar. A skilled surgeon can minimized the scarring to some extent, and patients can expect it to fade at least somewhat over time.
Will pregnancy after a tummy tuck ruin my results?
Unfortunately, yes. The stomach muscles and skin can (and almost certainly will) be stretched out again should another pregnancy occur. Women are encouraged to wait until after they are done having children to undergo tummy tuck surgery.
What are the risks of tummy tuck surgery?
As with any surgery, there are potential complications involved with abdominoplasty. Choosing the right surgeon and ensuring you are healthy enough for surgery are the first steps in minimizing risk. It is also important for patients to follow all physician instructions before and after surgery to promote proper healing and prevent problems from developing. Potential tummy tuck complications may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Tissue necrosis
- Anesthesia complications
- Poor healing
Are tummy tuck results permanent?
As long as patients maintain a stable weight and do not become pregnant again, the results of a tummy tuck hold up well over years. Aging may affect the results somewhat, but the abdominoplasty is considered a permanent solution to stretched out skin and muscles.
How does a tummy tuck affect the belly button?
Tissue manipulation can change the positioning of the belly button, but the plastic surgeon will reposition and contour the belly button so it looks natural and attractive.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Alvarez in Miami by filling out the contact form here or call (305) 600-4146.