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What to Expect During Tummy Tuck Surgery

Tummy tuck surgery (also known as abdominoplasty) has benefited the lives of many women after pregnancy. Likewise, it’s often literally the only thing that can get rid of unwanted loose skin after significant weight loss. 

Still, many people are reluctant to invest in tummy tuck surgery because they simply don’t know much about it. They think it’s too expensive, too painful, or something that only celebrities have done.

You may be surprised to learn that tummy tucks are one of the most commonly performed cosmetic surgeries in the nation. In fact, according to the “Plastic Surgery Statistics Reports” released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) in 2020, nearly 100,000 tummy tucks were performed in 2020, and well over 100,000 were performed in 2019.

Tummy tuck surgery is very common and ultra-beneficial. Just take a look at some tummy tuck before and after pictures to get an idea of the significant changes this procedure can make in an individual’s appearance. And if you are considering a tummy tuck for yourself, read on. Up ahead, we’ll go over what to expect during surgery and touch on a few other related topics as well.

What Is Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Tummy tuck surgery is a cosmetic procedure that eliminates excess loose skin around the abdomen. Similar procedures can be performed on other parts of the body such as the thighs (thigh lift) or upper arms (arm lift) where loose skin is a problem. 

The main goal with all of these surgeries, including tummy tuck surgery, is to get rid of sagging skin that cannot be reduced with weight loss efforts like diet and exercise. Tummy tuck is the only way to remove loose, sagging skin on the stomach.

So, who needs a tummy tuck?

Anyone who has loose, excess skin around their abdomen can benefit from a tummy tuck. Most of the time, tummy tuck patients are women who are done having children and have loose skin on their stomachs from pregnancy and individuals who have lost a lot of weight — either through weight loss surgery or diet and exercise. After a significant weight gain, the skin on the stomach and elsewhere may become permanently stretched so that when weight loss does occur, only the fat reduces, but the skin stays lax and must be removed with surgery.

Is a Tummy Tuck a Big Operation?

Yes. A tummy tuck procedure is an invasive procedure that requires general anesthesia. This means you’ll be put under while the surgery is being performed. 

Several incisions must be made for nearly all tummy tuck procedures — at least two in most cases. Patients will need to undergo a lengthy recovery after this procedure as well, and final results may not be visible until up to a year after surgery. However, noticeable results will be visible long before then. Patients will be able to go back to most of their normal activities after just a few months.

How Are Tummy Tucks Performed?

Tummy tuck surgery aims to do three things. 

First, it removes excess skin. Next, it tightens the abdominal muscles. And finally, contours are created to create a slimmer, sleeker silhouette. In some cases, liposuction may also be used in this regard and to eliminate stubborn fat. 

After general anesthesia has been administered, for the majority of tummy tuck surgeries, your surgeon will make two incisions: a lower lateral incision from hip to hip and a small incision at the belly button. 

Like a window shade, the stomach skin will be pulled down, and the excess will be cut off. The abdominal muscles will be tightened, and liposuction will be performed if necessary. Finally, a new hole will be cut for the belly button, and all incisions will be carefully closed.  

The Four Main Types of Tummy Tucks

There are four main types of tummy tucks: traditional or full tummy tucks, mini tummy tucks, fleur-de-lis tummy tucks, and extended tummy tucks.

The most common tummy tuck that is performed is the traditional or full tummy tuck. If you undergo this procedure, you will have two incisions. One is quite small and is made inside the belly button. This incision actually detaches the belly button from the rest of the surrounding skin. 

The other incision is made laterally below the belly button and near the pubic bone. This is the “hip to hip” scar.

These two incisions will also be used with a fleur-de-lis or extended tummy tuck. However, with the fleur-de-lis tummy tuck, an additional incision will be made from the belly button down to the lower lateral incision (hip to hip incision). For the extended tummy tuck, the lateral incision will extend around the sides of the hips and toward the back. In both the fleur-de-lis tummy tuck and the extended tummy tuck, more excess skin can be removed.

Finally, we have mini tummy tucks, which are rarely performed. This procedure only involves a lower lateral scar made below the belly button (hip to hip). This is because it is a procedure that only targets loose skin below the belly button. Therefore, if someone doesn’t have any loose skin above their navel, only a mini tummy tuck may be needed. But this is rare.

How Painful Is a Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Tummy tucks are not painful during the procedure because you will be under general anesthesia. Your doctor will prescribe you pain medications for after your surgery, which must be taken regularly and according to your surgeon’s directions. 

Generally speaking, while you will have some soreness and discomfort after a tummy tuck, the worst of it will occur during the first three days. Things should only get better from there. 

Will I Have Scars From My Tummy Tuck?

Yes, any surgery that requires incisions will have scars. However, with time, they will fade. Likewise, there are other steps you can take to reduce their appearance such as staying hydrated, keeping out of the sun, and using silicone scar-reducing sheets. 

How Long Does a Tummy Tuck Last?

As long as a patient is able to maintain a healthy weight, tummy tuck results should last indefinitely. Significant weight gain and/or pregnancy, however, may change your results.

What Are the Risks of Getting a Tummy Tuck?

As with any surgery, there are some risks that accompany tummy tuck surgery. These include:

  • Risks with anesthesia
  • Continued bleeding
  • Infection
  • Pulmonary or cardiac complications
  • Seroma
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Fat necrosis
  • Pain that persists
  • Numbness in the skin
  • Loss of skin sensation
  • Poor wound healing
  • Prolonged swelling
  • Unfavorable scarring

Schedule Your Tummy Tuck Consultation Appointment Today

Tummy tuck surgeryThinking about a tummy tuck surgery? Tummy tuck cosmetic surgery can be totally life-changing, and most patients say they wish they’d had done it sooner. To learn more about tummy tuck surgery, contact Hill Country Plastic Surgery today to book your consultation appointment.

Resources

https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2020/plastic-surgery-statistics-full-report-2020.pdf

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tummy-tuck/about/pac-20384892


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