A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery that tightens the lower abdomen by treating the “pooch” that is resistant to diet and exercise. There are many types of tummy tuck techniques, ranging from a mini tummy tuck, which requires a smaller incision, to a full/extended tummy tuck, which is reserved for patients with a larger amount of loose skin and fat. Oklahoma City plastic surgeon, Dr. Clinton Webster, performs abdominoplasty and will tailor the surgery according to each patient. During this procedure, excess fat and skin are removed, and the remaining skin is pulled tight. Liposuction is used in some cases. It is a common procedure for women after pregnancy, or for both men and women after weight loss or to overcome the natural effects of aging.
A traditional (full) tummy tuck is suitable for both men and women who have a moderate amount of excess skin in their midsection. It is commonly performed on women post-pregnancy. During this surgery, the incision extends from hipbone to hipbone, which grants the surgeon access to a greater portion of the internal structures. Liposuction is used to remove fat and the abdominal muscles are pulled and tightly secured. The belly button is usually repositioned for natural placement.
Individuals who are in relatively good shape but desire a flatter tummy may be good candidates for a mini tummy tuck (known as a “Brazilian tummy tuck”). These patients have loose abdominal fascia, but the muscles aren’t stretched to the point where a full tummy tuck is necessary. During surgery, a smaller incision is made along the lower abdomen, liposuction is used to remove excess fat, and the remaining skin is pulled tight. The belly button is not affected by this surgery.
The extended tummy tuck is reserved for patients who require major skin tightening and body contouring following a major weight loss. The extended tummy tuck requires a longer incision that extends beyond the hips, as well as another one around the navel. Liposuction is used and the excess skin is trimmed away and tightened. The belly button is repositioned during this surgery.
A tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia in an accredited surgical facility and typically takes around 2 hours to complete. It is considered an outpatient procedure. After surgery, patients will wear a compression garment and will need to rest for the first 48 hours. They should make a concerted effort to move around in order to help promote blood circulation, but should only attempt to initially stand at a 45-degree angle to protect the incision. Pain medication will be provided to help with post-operative pain. Clearance to resume exercise is usually given around 4-6 weeks.
Patients who have loose skin on the lower abdomen may be better candidates for a skin tightening procedure such as a tummy tuck. If a patient is battling unwanted belly fat, but otherwise has good skin tone, liposuction (which removes fat only) may be all that is needed.
Abdominoplasty can be combined with another cosmetic procedure, such as breast augmentation, a breast lift or liposuction that targets another area of the body. This is sometimes referred to as a “Mommy Makeover” and is considered a common practice, especially where pregnancy, weight gain and breast-feeding are concerned.
Unfortunately, scarring is a part of this procedure. However, every effort is made to minimize scarring, and the incisions are generally placed in locations easily concealed by undergarments. For women who have had a previous C-section, the original C-section scar will be replaced with the tummy tuck incision. Most patients feel the physical results of this surgery far outweigh any scarring left behind.
For optimal results, it is recommended that patients wait to have abdominoplasty until after all pregnancies have been completed. This is to ensure the stretching and weight gain that occurs with pregnancy does not compromise the results of the surgery.