Many women complain of the difficulty in maintaining a flat stomach and trim waist through diet and exercise alone. For them, abdominoplasty, or the tummy tuck, may be the answer.
Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fatty tissue from the middle and lower abdomen and tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall through the placement of sutures.
Abdominoplasty vs. Liposuction:
Many patients are confused as to whether abdominoplasty or liposuction is better suited to their needs. The best candidate for liposuction is a patient who has a “poochy” belly from excess fat only with minimal extra skin and good underlying support from the abdominal wall muscles and tissues.
Abdominoplasty is better for those patients with loose abdominal wall muscles and extra skin. Tulsa plastic surgeon Dr. Kent also performs a mini-abdominoplasty in which the incision is smaller and the amount of fat and skin removed are not as extreme as a full tummy tuck.
Reasons for Considering Abdominoplasty:
Whether you have a protruding belly, rolls of skin around the midsection, or torn abdominal muscles after pregnancy or weight fluctuations, tummy tuck surgery may be the best way to restore your abdominal wall and reshape your figure. Dr. Kent uses special techniques to sculpt the midsection and eliminate any excess tissue that is creating the illusion of a wider or rounder belly. If you have stretch marks and sagging skin around the abdomen, we may be able to excise this section of excess skin and tighten up the tissue to achieve your desired appearance.
You may be a good candidate for a tummy tuck if you have:
- Inability to improve the look of the abdomen through proper diet & exercise.
- Loose or stretched skin below the belly button due to pregnancy or significant weight loss.
- Diastasis (loose abdominal muscles) due to pregnancy.
- Stretch marks around the belly button and flanks
- A protruding or rounded stomach
- A poorly-defined waist
- A layer of excess skin on top of the abdominal muscles
Abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia at an outpatient surgery center. First, Dr. Kent will make an incision horizontally across the lower abdomen. Then, he will stretch the skin away from the muscle tissue in order to remove the excess skin and fat. He will place sutures in the abdominal wall for tightening and will often liposuction the areas at the end of the incision and above the pubic bone. Finally, he will close up the incision with under the skin stitches and Steri-Strips to prevent stitch marks.
After surgery, you may be kept for an overnight stay at the surgery center, or you may go home. Dr. Kent will discuss these options at your consultation, but staying overnight at the surgery center does offer certain advantages. First, you are taken to a hospital room after surgery, sparing you the discomfort of a ride home in your car. Second, by staying in the hospital, you will continue to wear your sequential compression stockings to stimulate blood return from the legs to the heart to help prevent a blood clot or venous thrombosis. And third, if any complications such as bleeding arise, you are already in a hospital setting and can immediately be returned to the OR to correct the situation.
You will be given a prescription for pain medication and will be asked to wear a Velcro abdominal binder for three weeks after surgery. Two drains will be placed at either end of the incision, which will be removed after 7-10 days, or sometimes longer. Full recovery will take about 6 weeks, but most patients are driving by the end of week one.
Tummy Tuck in Tulsa FAQ
Do I have to have drains?
Yes. I always place two drains, one at each end of the incision, to remove the excess fluids that would otherwise collect under your new tummy during the early healing phase. They usually stay in for about a week, and are then very easily removed by me with little to no discomfort to you.
Can I go home after my tummy tuck / abdominoplasty, or do I have to stay in the hospital?
It is really up to you whether you spend the first night after surgery at home or in the hospital. There are certain advantages to a hospital setting such as being cared for by the nursing staff, and more options for pain management. Also, if you stay at the hospital, we can continue using the sequential compression garments on your legs that help prevent blood clots. On the other hand, it’s always nice to sleep in your own bed.
How do you create a natural looking belly button when doing a tummy tuck / abdominoplasty?
There are a number of different incision shapes such as smile, frown, oval, and vertical, but the type I use really depends on the patient. The opening not only needs to be the right size and shape for your body, but it must be properly located. I spend a lot of time getting the belly button right since this is the part of your new stomach that is most likely to be visible in either clothes or a bathing suit.
Do you always do liposuction with your tummy tucks?
Usually, I liposuction the hip/flank and pubic areas where the scars end. I don’t believe in performing liposuction on the central and upper abdomen during an abdominoplasty since the blood supply to the remaining skin comes from this area, and I don’t want to run the risk of creating any healing problems. Furthermore, I’ve found that I get excellent results in the upper abdomen without liposuctioning that area.
Does the tummy tuck scar really have to go from side to side?
Unfortunately, yes, but think of it as the trade-off for a flat stomach. Although I work hard making the scar both as short and as smooth as possible, it is impossible to remove the abundance of excess skin present in patients who are candidates for a tummy tuck without leaving a side to side scar. Having said that, if a patient has only a minor degree of excess skin in the lower abdomen only, a mini-abdominoplasty may be a viable option and this procedure does produce a shorter scar.
Do I really need a tummy tuck? Can’t I just have liposuction?
Although liposuction is extremely effective at removing subcutaneous fat, it does nothing for the excess skin that often results from weight loss and pregnancy. Furthermore, pregnancy can also stretch out the actual muscle layer of the abdominal wall, causing a protruding belly. For these, an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is the only solution. In addition, some patients, mostly men, have an abdominal bulge that is actually intra-abdominal fat around the intestines. The only way to reduce this type of fat is through diet and exercise. It’s possible for all of these issues to be present to some degree in the same patient, which is why the doctor’s examination at your consultation is such an important tool for determining the best methods for addressing your issues. Contact us today to learn more about tummy tuck surgery in Tulsa OK.