Having children is one of the greatest blessings we can experience but pregnancies, or significant weight fluctuation, can leave women with loose and stretched skin with poor contours around the abdomen and hips. These changes can leave women feeling older, undesirable and depressed after pregnancies. No amount of exercise and good nutrition is going to completely correct these changes in the body. In these instances, a tummy tuck may be indicated to remove stretch marks and loose skin, tighten the separated muscles of the abdominal wall, revise c-section scars as needed, and give you a more youthful, rejuvenated tummy. This procedure can be performed on its own, or as a part of a more comprehensive mommy makeover.
What is Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty)?
An abdominoplasty removes the stretched, excess skin of the lower abdomen, tightens the abdominal wall and redrapes the skin of the upper abdomen to give a more youthful, rejuvenated abdomen. The skin of the abdomen often becomes loose and stretched out after pregnancy and weight loss. These changes will not respond to exercise alone and variable amounts of fat may accumulate and become resistant to diet and exercise. An abdominoplasty procedure may be indicated in these situations and serves two purposes. In some people, a protruding abdomen that is out of proportion to the rest of the body may be re-contoured to give balance to the torso as the flattening effect comes from the tightening of the abdominal wall. Secondly, the excess skin that is removed allows for the remaining skin to be redraped over the abdomen, giving a youthful, rejuvenated appearance. Scars from prior surgical procedures may limit the results, whereas other abdominal scars, such as stretch marks and C-section scars may be removed all together. Women planning future pregnancies or significant weight loss would be best served by postponing an abdominoplasty.
What Can a Tummy Tuck Do?
The benefits of a tummy tuck procedure is to rejuvenate the abdomen, particularly after pregnancy or significant weight loss. The benefits of a tummy tuck are the extent to which it addresses the loose skin as well as the weakness of the abdominal wall. Extra skin from the lower abdomen is removed and the abdominal wall is tightened. The remaining skin is then draped over the entire abdomen giving a more youthful and rejuvenated appearance to the abdomen.
Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction:
A tummy tuck is a rejuvenating procedure to give a more youthful appearance to the abdomen by removing excess skin and tightening the abdominal wall. Liposuction, on the other hand, simply thins the fat layer; therefore, it is a reduction technique alone. It will not tighten the abdominal wall and will not remove any laxed skin. In fact, liposuction requires good quality skin that will adequately tighten and redrape after the fat has been thin.
Who is a Good Candidate?
- Women with excess skin of the lower abdomen after pregnancy or weight loss
- Women with a protruding abdomen or “fat pouch” that does not respond to exercise or diet
- Women wanting to revise unsightly C-section scars or remove stretch marks on the lower abdomen
- Best performed when no further pregnancies are planned and when a stable or target weight has been achieved
- Healthy individual
- Non-drug users
- Realistic goals and expectations
The Abdominoplasty Procedure:
In the pre-op holding area, the skin of the abdomen is marked by our Dr. Parva. Markings help direct the surgical plan as a road map for removal of the excess skin. In the operating room there are three key factors in performing the tummy tuck procedure:
- Remove the excess skin of the lower abdomen, generally from the belly button level to the pubic hair line.
- Tighten the abdominal muscles and flatten the abdominal wall. (Visualize an internal corset)
- Pull the skin of the upper abdomen over the entire abdominal wall to redrape the skin.
A small drain is placed under the skin to prevent fluid build-up and will be removed in about one week. A bladder catheter placed at the start of the surgery is left in place over night to prevent possible distension (swelling) of the bladder after surgery.
You will be asked to stay in a flexed position for the first week to reduce tension on the skin closure. It is recommended that you do not stay in bed but are mobile and walking the very next day after surgery.
Recovery and Healing:
- Generally, recovery takes 10 to 14 days with avoidance of strenuous activity for 6 weeks.
- The main recovery period is 7 to 10 days although some patients will take 2 weeks before returning to work.
- We encourage walking and basic activities at home to start the day after surgery and progressive increase in the activity levels.
- Heavy lifting and strenuous activity should be avoided for 6 weeks to prevent post surgical complications.
- Nerve blocks and pain pumps can be used to help recovery during the initial post-op period.
Every woman has unique body proportions. Women are born with different lengths to their waists which affect surgical outcomes. A long distance between the lower ribs and the hips is considered “long waisted” and a short distance between the lower ribs and the hips is “short waisted.” In these women the rib cage is much closer to the pelvis. There is very little room so it tends to produce a more “boxy” looking torso. A long waist creates an hour-glass figure because there is a lot more vertical room. The location of the belly button can also impact the results. Understanding your body type will guide you in setting realistic expectations for your tummy tuck results. During your consultation, Dr. Parva will confirm your body type, evaluate skin quality and review realistic expectations with you. Both “short waisted” and “long waisted” women can attain pleasing results through a tummy tuck with a board certified plastic surgeon who has an extensive experience in body contouring procedures. Since a tummy tuck removes excess skin and tightens the abdominal wall, the results are essentially life long as long as weight is maintained and no further pregnancies are planned.
“Today as I stood in the bathroom I could not believe my new body. It has been almost two weeks since I had my surgery, and my husband is amazed at how great I look, and what you were able to do for me.”
Tummy Tuck Scars:
A tummy tuck scar will generally extend from one hip across the lower abdomen to the other hip. There is also a scar around the belly button. If there is more extensive loose skin that requires removal, then the scar may extend toward the sides of the hip as well. A mini tummy tuck, which is a more limited procedure, generally has a shorter scar across the lower abdomen.
Tummy Tuck Cost:
Tummy tuck costs can vary depending on the extent of the procedure but generally are in the range of $8000-$12,000.
Tummy Tuck and Pregnancy:
It is advised that women plan a tummy tuck only after they have completed their family. Pregnancies after a tummy tuck can stretch the abdominal wall and the tissues and, therefore, compromise the benefit of a tummy tuck. In some situations, women may have to repeat the tummy tuck procedure or have a revisionary procedure if they develop significant laxity of tissues as a result of another pregnancy.
Schedule Your Tummy Tuck Consultation
Please contact Parva Plastic Surgery for your complimentary tummy tuck consultation with Dr. Parva, today.