Abdominoplasty, or Tummy-Tuck, is a common operative procedure designed to restore the flat contour of the abdominal wall when that contour has been lost due to pregnancy or weight loss. Two separate components are addressed during the procedure – the skin and subcutaneous tissue, and the muscles of the abdominal wall. The term abdominoplasty is a general term. In reality, there is a spectrum of procedures that can be employed depending on variations in anatomy and the volume and thickness of excess skin and tissue. A thorough evaluation of the patient will determine the exact procedure employed to produce the desired outcome. By definition, abdominoplasty procedures involve removal of excess skin and tissues and re-tensioning of the skin to produce the flat contour that is desired. Additional maneuvers such as liposuction are employed to produce a tight, though balanced and smooth effect.
An abdominoplasty is a surgical operation performed typically under a general anesthetic. Most abdominoplasty procedures are followed by an overnight stay at the surgery center, though smaller procedures can be managed post-operatively at home after surgery. Common to all of the procedures within the abdominoplasty spectrum, an incision of appropriate length is made to begin the procedure. Typically, some degree of undermining is performed and then the resulting abdominal skin flap is pulled down and re-tensioned along with any loose abdominal muscles. The resulting horizontal scar is always placed in a very low position on the abdomen to allow for a more discrete outcome. Liposuction, when employed, often precedes the procedure and follows as well. Layered soft dressing are then placed.
Recovery after abdominoplasty
Patients are typically in a flexed position at the waist following abdominoplasty, and they should maintain this position for the first four to five days following the procedure. This is easily tolerated, especially when it is expected and arranged for. A single small drain may be placed, and if so, is removed on the first post-operative office visit around day five. Patients are usually able to stand upright at that time, though care is still taken to avoid excess tension over the abdomen. Limited exercise is stressed, though a progressive activity and exercise program is outlined during that first post-operative visit. Most patients are mobile and capable of driving within one week. Full and unlimited exercise can be expected following six weeks time.