What you need to know about Tummy Tuck
Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure to create a toned, firm, and flat abdomen by removing excess skin and fat. It has both cosmetic and medical benefits as it can tighten the abdominal muscles, restore the contour of the belly, improve posture, correct hernia, and reduce stress urinary incontinence.
A tummy tuck is suitable for people who want to remove excess skin due to a significant weight loss, aging, or pregnancy. However, not everyone can undergo a tummy tuck. Your surgeon may not allow you to undergo the procedure if you plan to lose a significant amount of weight, you might want to get pregnant in the future, have a body mass index (BMI) that is greater than 30, smokes, have a severe chronic condition, and had an abdominal surgery that caused scar tissue in the past.
What does the Procedure Involve?
A tummy tuck procedure will get rid of some of your excess skin and fat and will tighten the muscles in your abdominal wall.
What you need to understand is that a tummy tuck procedure is not an alternative for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program. While its results are significantly permanent, maintaining a positive outcome will require you to have a healthier lifestyle.
Furthermore, this type of treatment procedure is not the same as liposuction. A tummy tuck is major surgery and not all individuals who wish to undergo it are good candidates. Generally speaking, this specific type of treatment procedure is for both men and women who are in good health. This is also suitable for women who have had more than one pregnancy, as well as both men and women who were formerly obese and still have excess fat and loose skin around their belly area.
You will be advised to postpone your plans for a tummy tuck procedure if you are:
- Planning to get pregnant – you may want to consider it once you’re done having children. A tummy tuck tightens your vertical muscles and future pregnancies may separate those muscles.
- Planning to lose weight – tummy tuck should be done after weight loss.
In preparation for a tummy tuck procedure, you will need to have a consultation with your surgeon. During your consultation, you will be asked about your expected result, goals. Furthermore, your surgeon will also discuss the following options:
- A partial abdominoplasty (Mini abdominoplasty) – this is for those people who have fat deposits below their navel area. This type of tummy tuck procedure usually lasts about two hours, depending on the case.
- Complete abdominoplasty – With this type of tummy tuck surgery, an incision is usually from hip bone to hip bone following the contouring of skin, tissue, and muscle as needed. It will also be required to move the patient’s belly button; patients must also have tube drainage under their skin for a few days.
Before your actual surgery, you may be asked to do the following:
- Quit smoking two weeks before and two weeks after your surgery.
- Eat well balanced complete meals.
- Stop taking certain medications before and after your surgery (prescription drugs, herbal medicines, and supplements)
A tummy tuck procedure typically lasts for about one to five hours, depending on your case. You will also be given general anesthesia while you undergo the surgery, meaning, you will be asleep during the whole procedure.
How Long Should I Stay in the Area?
Depending on the extent of your tummy tuck, you may need to stay in the hospital overnight or leave the hospital on the same day. However, since you have to attend follow-up checkups and allow your body to heal, you will have to stay in the local area for at least 7 days following your discharge from the hospital. Your surgeon will check your overall health and remove the stitches during the follow-up checkups.
What’s the Recovery Time?
The recovery period after a tummy tuck depends on various factors, such as your general health, body weight, and age. In general, you may be able to go back to work (if your job does not require a lot of physical activities) and perform light exercises (such as walking) within 2 to 3 weeks after the surgery. You may need to wait for about 6 to 8 weeks until you can go back to your full normal routine, including performing vigorous activities. Still, your body will continue to heal for a few more months, so it’s better to take it easy until your surgeon allows you to return to your full activity.
What About Aftercare?
Your surgeon will give you detailed aftercare instructions. To avoid any complications, it is important that you follow them closely. The instructions may include restrictions (such as staying away from alcohol and nicotine), light exercises, and a healthy diet. Your surgeon will also tell you how to find an optimal resting position to make you comfortable during recovery. It is important to keep moving and doing some light exercise after the surgery to keep your blood flowing and reduce the risk of a blood clot.
To maintain the results of your tummy tuck, you need to maintain a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly, at least about 30 to 60 minutes every day. You should also limit your alcohol intake. Staying fit and in shape is the main key to keeping the results for a long time.
What’s the Success Rate?
Most patients who have had a tummy tuck reported achieving positive results. Only about 3.1% of people developed complications following the surgery. However, while the success rate is high, you need to be aware that the procedure does have some risks of complications, including seroma (fluid accumulation beneath the skin), unexpected scarring, poor wound healing, unexpected scarring, tissue damage or death, bleeding, infection, an allergic reaction to anesthesia, and changes in skin sensation. This is why following your surgeon’s aftercare instruction is very important, as it helps reduce the risk of complications.
Are there Alternatives to Tummy Tuck Procedure?
While there are non-surgical options that can be considered as an alternative to this type of treatment procedure, note that these alternatives will not give you the same results as a tummy tuck. These non-surgical alternatives only give off limited amounts of skin tightening and a small amount of non-surgical fat reduction.
CoolSculpting – in this procedure, your fat cells will be frozen and eventually be eliminated by your body. You will usually see results after a few weeks and its final effects will be shown typically within three months.
SculpSure – unlike CoolSculpting, SculpSure makes use of laser beam light to kill your fat cells. During the procedure, the laser will be used to heat the fat cells to a point of irreversible damage. Once your fat cells are damaged, they will eventually be swept away by your body’s lymphatic system. Just like CoolSculpting, it will also take about three months to see full results.
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