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A Tummy Tuck (or Abdominoplasty) Can Make Your Abdomen More Attractive

Sep 8, 2008
Many factors can affect the contour of your abdomen. Childbirth can stretch abdominal tissues to an extent uncorrectable with exercise, excess fat deposits can produce undesirable bulges or fullness, and loose skin following childbirth or weight loss can result in an unattractive abdomen.

Abdominoplasty is a procedure which improves the contour and appearance of the abdomen by contouring or reshaping the underlying muscle framework, and removing excess fat and loose skin.

During pregnancy, enlargement of your uterus causes significant stretching of the tissues of your abdomen. After delivery, you can exercise to recover the tone in the muscles themselves, but the fascial tissues which interconnect the muscles may have been stretched, and fascia does not respond to exercise. Stretching or looseness of the lower abdominal tissues can allow bulging of your lower abdomen which you may not be able to correct with exercise.

After significant weight loss, as fatty tissue is decreased beneath the skin of your abdomen, your abdominal skin may become much looser, and sometimes actually hang downward. Skin also does not respond to any type of exercise, but excess loose skin can be removed during abdominoplasty.

Even in individuals who are not overweight, localized deposits of fat can occur in areas of the abdomen, producing undesirable contours. If fat deposits are the only contour problem, they may be correctable with suction lipoplasty alone, but if stretched musculature or loose skin are present, abdominoplasty is necessary to achieve the best contour.

So abdominoplasty does three things: it reshapes the underlying framework of the abdomen to improve shape and contour, it removes excess fat deposits which may be present, and it removes excess loose skin to improve the overall contour, appearance and shape of the abdomen.

During your consultation, your surgeon will discuss with you each area of your abdomen which concerns you. He will explain specifically which of the components of abdominoplasty will be necessary to achieve the best contour, and show you the type of changes you can expect.

Limitations and risks associated with abdominoplasty are very small. We want to provide you the best information so that you'll be well informed in making your decision. Cur written informational material contains more details, and we'll discuss all possible risks which may concern you during your consultation.

How much your abdomen can be reshaped depends on several factors. The quality of your tissues is very important, and a factor over which we have little control.

If you are significantly overweight, you'll get a much better correction if you achieve a more ideal weight before your abdominoplasty. There is a limit to the amount of fat which can be safely removed surgically during the procedure.

To reshape the underlying musculofascial framework and remove excess skin, incisions are necessary. Incisions are placed low on the abdomen, and their length depends on the amount of correction you require. In some cases, it is necessary to reposition or reshape your umbilicus (belly button). Your surgeon will discuss the specifics of incisions during your consultation.

Any necessary incisions will produce scars. The quality of these scars depends on several factors including your specific healing characteristics. You should think of scars as a trade-off for significant improvement in the shape of your abdomen.

Abdominoplasty cannot change the underlying skeleton and is limited in how much actual muscles can be reshaped. Your surgeon will discuss any specific limitations during your consultation.

Other risks common to all surgical procedures such as bleeding, infection and scar tissue formation occur in a very small percentage of cases. We will give you more detailed information about these and other rare risks in our written information, and encourage you to discuss any which concern you during your consultation.

The Operation
Incisions for abdominoplasty are placed low on your abdomen to allow them to be best concealed. The length of the incision depends on the degree of looseness in ycur skin and how much will need to be removed as the upper skin is pulled down to improve the contour. Your surgeon will discuss your preferences and specific ways in which he can minimize the length of your incisions.

How Abdominoplasty Is Done
The skin and fat are first lifted off the underlying musculature of the abdomen. Your surgeon makes very precise measurements and markings before beginning any reshaping to most accurately control final shape. If the fascia is stretched (the tissues which interconnect the muscles), he will tighten it by placing multiple rows of sutures. In some cases, the muscles themselves may be repositioned for best correction. In essence, the underlying framework of the abdomen is reshaped. Your surgeon may place extra "shock-absorbing" layers of sutures to allow you to resume your normal activities much sooner without fear of disrupting the correction.

Next, excess fat is removed using suction or direct removal techniques. This reduces any-excess thickness in the soft tissue to get the best redraping over your new abdominal framework.

The skin is then pulled downward to tighten it, and any excess tissue is removed below. Depending on the degree of looseness of skin and the amount which has to be removed, it may be necessary to reposition the umbilicus (belly button). In the vast majority of cases, your surgeon is able to recontour your abdomen without repositioning the umbilicus, preventing your having a scar around it.

All of your incisions will be carefully closed with stitches placed beneath the skin, so there's no chance of your having "railroad track" type marks but rather very fine line scars. You'll be able to shower or bathe immediately. None cf the sutures will have to be removed-they simply dissolve.

To minimize fluid collection and swelling and improve your comfort in the treated areas, we'll ask you to wear an elastic garment which we provide for two weeks or more after surgery, depending on the areas and extent of your procedure.

Following abdominoplasty procedures, most patients have mild to moderate discomfort the first 48-72 hours which decreases rapidly thereafter. The extent of discomfort depends largely on the extent of surgery required to reshape your abdomen. We'll pre-scribe medication for your discomfort as necessary.

Your abdomen will feel tighter as the result of its new, tighter shape. The feelng of tightness will decrease over 1-3 weeks as swelling decreases and the tissues become accustomed to their new shape.

It's important to be up and about the day following your procedure. How much activity we'll recommend depends on the specific procedure required to reshape your abdomen.
You will be able to shower within two or three days following surgery, or sooner in some instances.

The Stages Of Recovery
Our patients usually want to know about four stages of recovery: hospitalization time, when swelling or bruising is resolved, when they'll be able to return to work or social activity, and when they can return to full aerobic or strenuous exercise.

For abdominoplasty procedures, the average surgery may be performed as a day surgery procedure or with a one night stay in the hospital. Bruising and swelling resolve within 7-21 days and most patients can return to work and social activity within 5-14 days, depending on the extent of the procedure. Aerobic or strenuous activity can be resumed in 3-6 weeks.
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