Also known as a tummy tuck, abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure that tightens the abdominal walls, and removes excess fat and skin, to help flatten and shape the abdomen. Candidates for abdominoplasty typically have stubborn areas of fat that have not responded to traditional diet and exercise.
A partial abdominoplasty (mini tummy tuck) is similar to abdominoplasty, but involves shorter incisions and is an overall less invasive procedure. It is ideal for patients with fat localized in the lower abdomen. A partial abdominoplasty produces less scarring and has a shorter recovery time than abdominoplasty.
Abdominoplasty is ideal for a patient who has excess fat, loose skin and stretched muscles in the abdominal area that have not responded to diet and exercise. Many patients undergo this procedure after pregnancy or bariatric surgery. Patients should be in good overall health and at or near a healthy weight. Abdominoplasty is not to be used for substantial weight loss, and is instead for patients close to their ideal weight. Anyone planning on losing a significant amount of weight, and women planning on having (more) children, should wait before undergoing abdominoplasty.
During abdominoplasty, the patient is placed under general anesthesia. Two incisions are made: one from hipbone to hipbone close to the pubic area, and another around the navel. Skin is separated from the abdominal muscles, which are then pulled together and stitched into place for a firmer abdomen and narrower waist. The separated flap of skin is then stretched down over the newly tightened muscles, excess skin is removed, and the navel is reattached where it looks natural. The incisions are then closed, and sterile surgical dressings are applied over the sutured areas. Abdominoplasty takes approximately 2 to 5 hours to perform.
After abdominoplasty, patients may experience swelling, bruising and discomfort. Compression garments are worn, and a temporary tube may be inserted under the skin to drain excess fluid from the incision. Patients should avoid strenuous activity and lifting heavy objects for several weeks, but can likely return to work after a week or two. Complete recovery times vary from 2 weeks to a few months.
The flatter, more toned abdominal area provided by abdominoplasty is visible right away. With a balanced diet and regular exercise, results are long-lasting. Becoming pregnant or gaining or losing a substantial amount of weight after abdominoplasty can negate its results.
In addition to the usual risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, risks associated with abdominoplasty include asymmetry, a poor aesthetic result, unsightly scarring, loose skin, skin numbness, and a need for revisional surgery.