A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is one of the most transformative procedures that plastic surgeons can perform. It is a procedure that can be used to contour the abdomen to a much more youthful, healthy, and desirable state. It involves removing excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen, repositioning the belly button, and tightening up the abdominal musculature. It may often be performed with liposuction or sometimes in conjunction with other procedures such as Breast Augmentation and/or Breast Lift, like in the Mommy Makeover.
Why are Tummy Tucks Performed
There are three main components that the tummy tuck treats:
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but unfortunately there are often some trade-offs that women must experience. The abdominal tissue is designed to stretch and expand during pregnancy, but unfortunately it does not tend to retract to its previous position. Postpartum women are then usually left with loose skin, mostly in the lower abdominal region below the belly button. This can be accompanied by stretch marks as well. Even if the patient is at their ideal body weight, and in good physical shape, this skin will often never improve on its own. A Tummy Tuck helps to surgically remove this excess tissue and flatten and tighten the lower abdominal wall.
Many women may also notice that as they age, they just cant get rid of that excess fat around the lower abdomen and belly button. Even if they are in great physical shape and eat a healthy diet, that stubborn fat wont budge. In these cases, a Tummy Tuck with some liposuction can help to remove the excess fat in those stubborn areas to create a more proportioned shape and contour to the abdomen.
Weight gain, age, and pregnancy can all lead to a wearing of the abdominal wall. If this weakening progresses and the “six pack” muscles begin to separate, it is referred to as Rectus Diastasis. No amount of sit-ups or crunches will ever correct this. The only way to correct this problem is through a Tummy Tuck, where we surgically repair the muscle separation and improve and flatten the upper abdominal contour.
The ideal candidate for a tummy tuck is one in good health without significant medical problems. They should be have reasonable expectations of outcome and understand the potential risks and complications that may occur. Women who have not had children, and those that are done having children are both excellent candidates if they understand the nuances of their individual situation. For optimal results, women should be close to their ideal body weight. Patients who are considerably overweight are at increased risks of complications and dissatisfaction with their overall results.
During your consultation, you will meet with Dr. Arslanian and his staff and have the opportunity to discuss your individual situation as well as your concerns and aesthetic goals. Dr. Arslanian will will take a thorough history and perform a complete examination checking for diastasis and hernias. Photos will be taken to help Dr. Arslanian point out certain things and explain his approach to tummy tuck. If you are deemed a good candidate, he will discuss the various options for tummy tuck and make sure you are happy with your decision. He will also show you photos of other patients before and afters to give you a reasonable idea of expectations. After answering all your questions, you will then sit down with the surgical coordinator to discuss timing, pricing, and any other questions you might have.
Before & After Photos
There are some patients that have very minimal excess fat and skin, but still have the muscle weakness that requires repair. In this technique, a smaller incision can usually be utilized, and the muscle repair and skin excision can then be performed. This usually does not require moving the belly button to another location.
If you have experienced massive weight loss after Weight Loss surgery, or on your own through diet and exercise, Dr. Arslanian can help guide you to the appropriate treatment. This may involve performing a typically tummy tuck, or may require a circumferential procedure such as a body lift or belt lipectomy in order to address the entire trunk area. Patients who are candidates typically have excess loose skin not only on the front of the belly but also in the hips, flanks, and back.
Many patients will combine a tummy tuck with liposuction. Even though the front of the abdomen does not respond well to liposuction, the flanks, hips, lower and upper back, arms and thighs all do. Often a tummy tuck will be performed to address the front of the abdomen, and then additional liposuction can be performed in other areas to produce a total body transformation.
It is very common for a tummy tuck to be performed with breast rejuvenation in postpartum women. The process of transforming the post-pregnancy body to the pre-pregnancy body is coined “The Mommy Makeover”. Rather than a specific procedure, he is a combination of different procedures all with the same goal of transformation.
Male Tummy Tuck
Men are excellent candidates as well. Men do not have to deal with the effects of pregnancy, but age and weight gain and weight loss can all lead to a less than desirable mid-section. The procedure can be performed to remove excess skin and fat and also improve the musculature if needed.
Prior to surgery you will be given instructions on the day, time and location of your procedure. You will be given your prescriptions that Dr. Arslanian prescribes, and all of your paperwork including consent forms will be signed. In some cases you may need to obtain medical clearance from your physician or specialist, and possibly meet with the anesthesiologist and undergo additional lab work depending on your medical issues and personal situation. Current smokers will unfortunately not be offered a tummy tuck as the complication rate is considerably higher. Dr. Arslanian can discuss options for smoking cessation so that you may still be a candidate for the procedure.
The procedure will be performed as an outpatient in an accredited surgery center with a board certified anesthesiologist in the safest conditions possible. The surgery will be performed under general anesthesia. Pre-operative markings will typically be made the morning of surgery.
After you are asleep, Dr. Arslanian will start by making his incision, which typically will be very low in order to hide the scar in your underwear or bikini line. He will then lift up the abdominal skin and fat as a flap. The belly button will then be released from the surrounding skin and a narrow tunnel will be created in midline almost to the chest. Dr. Arslanian will then decide if you need a muscle repair and will perform that repair to the appropriate tension required. The excess skin and fat will then be removed and the incisions will be closed. Drains will be placed under the skin to allow for fluid removal. Local Anesthetic will be administered directly into the muscle to allow for post-operative pain relief. A new belly button hole will then be created and your belly button will then be brought out and sewn into place. Bandages and either a garment or binder will be placed and you will be transferred to the recovery room after awaking.
You will go home the same day of surgery and rest. You will need to modify your sleeping and sitting positioning. There will be some tension on the incision closure, and a modified “beach chair” position will be required. This means keeping both the head/back and legs/knees bent and supported with pillows in order to remove any tension on the repair.
You will be walking the first day after surgery but will likely need to stay bent over slightly for the first 1-2 weeks until the skin begins to stretch enough for you stand upright. Moving around will be important to prevent blood clots. You will also start on a blood thinner the day after surgery and continue that for approximately 10 days to minimize the chances of developing a blood clot in your legs.
You will likely have two drains in place and will be given detailed instructions on how to manage them and record the output. They will typically be removed at 10-14 days after surgery, which is almost painless and done in the office.
You will be able to return to light work duty within 2 weeks if you have a desk or computer job. You will not be able to lift anything heavy for at least 6-8 weeks. You can slowly increase your activity and begin exercising again at the discretion of Dr. Arslanian based on your progress and individual healing. At 3 months you will be able to resume ALL activities including heavy lifting, sit-ups and crunches, and full cardio exercise.
Patients can expect most of the swelling to be resolved by 3 months, but 10-15% of the swelling can persist to 6 or even 12 months. Your scar will typically begin to improve and fade after 6 weeks and can take at least a year to fade completely. A scar control regiment will be recommended to you as well in order to help minimize scarring from the procedure.
The cost of your procedure/treatment will vary depending on the extent of your individual case and whether you choose to add any additional procedures. We would be more than happy to give you a detailed customized quote when you schedule a consultation with Dr. Arslanian.