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Abdominoplasty Surgery and the Path to a Flatter Tummy

Published by Dr. Brandon Richland, MD

Abdominoplasty or a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that improves the shape and appearance of the abdomen. The surgery involves extra skin and fat removal from the middle and lower belly for tightening the muscle and fascia of the abdominal wall.

Abdominoplasty is considered to be one of the world’s most popular cosmetic surgeries for women. This article provides a detailed overview about what it is, the ideal candidates for the procedure, and the overall tummy tuck procedure from preparation to postoperative care.

Key Takeaways of Abdominoplasty Surgery

  • Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic procedure that aims to improve the appearance of the stomach by removing excess fat, skin, and tissues.
  • Ideal candidates are those who have lost elasticity on their skin due to age, pregnancy, or weight loss.
  • Preparing for a tummy tuck is essential by completing medical evaluations, scheduling doctor consultations, and following pre-op instructions.
  • During an abdominoplasty, anesthesia will be used for patient comfort while surgeons employ techniques tailored to each person’s needs.

What is Abdominoplasty Surgery?

Abdominoplasty surgery is designed to remove excess fat and extra fat from the abdomen. The removal of these unwanted and unnecessary components can dramatically reduce the appearance of a fat belly and create a firmer contour for both men and women.

The goals of abdominoplasty include: restoring weakened abdominal wall muscles; removing fat deposits that are resistant to diet control; treating stretched abdominal skin caused by multiple pregnancies or weight loss; improving body shape and figure; and producing an overall outcome similar to what can be achieved with an intensive exercise program.

Depending on each individual’s needs and anatomy, there are two types of procedures that can be performed. One is a complete tummy tuck, which involves cutting the belly from one side of the hipbone to the other, until the bikini line. The other is a mini abdominoplasty, which only focuses its efforts on removal of excess skin around the belly button area.

Purpose and Goals of the Tummy Tuck Surgery

The primary goal of abdominoplasty is to tighten the weakened abdominal muscles by removing unnecessary fat and loose skin surrounding them. As a result, it promotes a firmer and more toned look for the abdomen.

Abdominoplasty can also provide various health benefits, such as improved posture due to the tightening of loose muscles in the upper thighs and stomach. It can also reduce back pain supposedly caused by weakness in vertical muscles. With this we can conclude that tummy tucks are not only beneficial for aesthetic and appearance results, but also promotes improving overall medical health.

Candidates for Abdominoplasty Surgery

Those interested in having this type of cosmetic procedure should have good health and a stable weight or body mass index (BMI). People who experienced a significant weight loss from illness, pregnancy, or lifestyle changes may benefit greatly from this type of procedure.

Factors Determining Suitability

Women considering a tummy tuck should have excess skin that has lost elasticity in their abdominal areas. Determining eligibility for this procedure comes down to factors such as age, size of the areas that need treatment, the patient’s lifestyle concerning nutrition and exercise habits, and their body type.

Consulting with a qualified plastic surgeon ensures proper assessment for suitability and treatment recommendation.

What Makes a Good Candidate for a Full Tummy Tuck?

Ideal candidates should be in good health and be within 20 pounds of their ideal weight before the scheduled treatment. This reduces the risk of potential complications surfacing during and after surgery.

People with excess skin and tissue in their abdominal area, ones who can no longer benefit from diet and exercise alone also make ideal candidates. In this case, the individual’s skin already lacks elasticity to respond to natural treatments, so a tummy tuck may be an ideal procedure.

Who Should Avoid the Surgery?

Those who have chronic medical conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension or diabetes, and people who have abdominal wall hernias may not be suitable patients for abdominoplasty. Heavy smokers are also not recommended due to the increased risk of healing complications.

Interested patients must declare any previous surgeries, medical conditions, or medications they take with their plastic surgeon to determine if the surgery is safe. While this surgery can make patients lose weight and achieve a contoured body, it should never be used as a sole substitute for a healthy diet and exercise program.

Preparing for Abdominoplasty Surgery

Patients should prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally when opting for this type of cosmetic procedure.

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What Patients Need Before Considering a Tummy Tuck Procedure

Mental preparation and discussing with the doctor any reservations or expectations associated with the procedure are needed. They should also maintain their ideal weight goal for at least a year, as being overweight increases risk and may cause complications.

Medical Tests and Doctor Consultations

Complete medical evaluations and consultations with a qualified surgeon are required. These are necessary to determine any potential risks or complications that may arise during the procedure.

The surgeon will review each patient’s medical history and may order additional imaging or tests as needed. Physical examination will also be performed. Depending on each case, the surgeon provides details about the expected outcomes along with any potential risks or side effects that could occur after completing the operation.

Consultations also allow prospects to ask questions about the treatment beforehand.

Pre-Operative Instructions

As part of pre-surgical preparations, patients should stop smoking at least 6 weeks before and after surgery, and should avoid taking over-the-counter medicine for 2 weeks prior. Specific dietary restrictions may also be provided.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons provides a comprehensive guide for proper prepping, including which medications to avoid that might interfere with anesthesia during the operation.

The Abdominoplasty Procedure

A plastic surgeon uses a combination of techniques to help achieve satisfying outcomes for each patient.

Anesthesia and Incision Placement

Anesthesia ensures patient comfort and safety throughout the procedure. Anesthesiologists work with a specialized team of medical personnel to provide general anesthesia or IV sedation.

General anesthesia temporarily eliminates all sensation and reflexes, while intravenous sedation reduces pain and consciousness. The anesthesia used will depend on the patient’s needs and preference.

Careful planning and consideration of incision placement are important to reduce visible scars as much as possible after healing.

Surgical Techniques Used in Abdominal Muscles

A qualified plastic surgeon will first assess each individual’s case to determine which treatment or techniques best suit their needs.

The goal of the surgery is to: rehabilitate separated muscles in the abdominal area; remove excess fat, skin, and tissue to contour the stomach; and restore proper body measurements and shape of the torso.

A standard technique that is commonly used in an abdominoplasty procedure is liposuction. A liposuction reduces unwanted bulging fat and muscle tightening, and this is cleaned up by sutures placed above or below the belly button.

Depending on each case, incisions may need to be made horizontally across the patient’s hip bones or extra folds around their waistline that can be corrected.

The tummy tuck belt application technique may also be employed where muscles at different angles are targeted through deep suturing close to the midline. This provides excellent support internally, restoring core strength and helping in better body posture even before any visible changes in appearance.

Risks and Benefits of Abdominoplasty Surgery

All potential patients must be aware of the risks involved with this type of plastic surgery so they can make an informed decision.

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Possible Complications and Side Effects

Abdominoplasty surgery has serious side effects and complications, including bleeding, infection, and adverse reactions to anesthesia.

Common complications include scarring, hematoma, wound infection, seroma, poor wound healing, and blood clots. Some patients may experience numbness or other changes in sensation due to nerve damage during the procedure.

Wound infections can occur after abdominoplasty if proper preparation is not undertaken. If such an event occurs, it will require treatment with antibiotics.

Benefits and Expected Outcomes

After undergoing abdominoplasty surgery, women can experience numerous benefits to their appearance and health. The procedure can eliminate excess fat and skin from the abdominal area, leaving it flatter and more toned for a better contour.

Abdominoplasty can repair muscle separation or weakness in the abdomen by tightening the muscles to produce firmer results. Many patients may also see improved posture due to strengthening core muscles after this procedure, and relief from back pain caused by previously weak muscles. Some patients may even find reduced urinary incontinence associated with a weakened pelvic floor addressed through an abdominoplasty operation.

Tummy Tuck Recovery and Aftercare

Following the instructions provided by the doctor following abdominoplasty surgery is a must after the procedure.

Post-Operative Care Instructions

Patients may be advised to take a specific position for recovery, such as positioning in a 45-degree angle during sleep, and having knees bent to relieve tension on the abdominal and incision site.

Walking should be started as soon as possible after surgery, and strenuous activity should wait for another three weeks.

During the first week of recovery, abdominal discomfort such as swelling, bruising, or soreness may occur, but these will dissipate gradually. Patients must pay close attention to post-op instructions to ensure all go smoothly throughout the healing process. In turn, patients may enjoy optimal outcomes from their abdominoplasty procedure.

Managing Pain and Discomfort

After undergoing abdominoplasty surgery, most patients feel soreness and discomfort in their abdomen due to the body healing from the procedure. Swelling, pain, and bruising is also expected during the first week.

Individuals should be aware that there can be a wide variation in pain tolerance, so they may experience unique levels of discomfort compared to others who have undergone abdominoplasty surgery.

Practical tips for alleviating such symptoms include applying ice packs directly onto areas of swelling or tenderness, which helps reduce inflammation and relieve some aches and pains.

Following post-op care instructions provided by your medical team could help prevent any complications or infections in the treated area, particularly around the belly button, where proper attention is needed until fully healed.

Follow-Up Appointments

After a tummy tuck procedure, tummy tuck patients need to attend follow-up appointments with their surgeon. These appointments are essential in monitoring recovery, and assessing how well the body is healing and responding appropriately to the treatment.

Surgeons will schedule a follow-up appointment to remove drainage tubes placed during the procedure. Plus, they may recommend additional trips to their clinic as needed, along with three months and yearly checkups post-treatment.

During these sessions, it is common for surgeons to discuss expectations of final results, provide a timeline for recovery progress, and advice on making healthy lifestyle changes over time.

Long-Term Results and Outlook

Abdominoplasty has been proven to help women achieve a positive body transformation with lasting results. It can result in a flatter, smoother, and more toned abdomen that is expected to be long-lasting.

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Expected Changes in Appearance and Body Contour

Patients can expect continuous improvement in their appearance over the next three to six months after the surgery, as it may take long for the full abdominoplasty results to be visible.

The aesthetic changes undergone during an abdominoplasty hold natural and presentable looking outcomes that give many patients newfound confidence and better quality of life.

Maintaining Results Through a Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential for preserving the results of an abdominoplasty. Regular exercise such as walking or jogging, and strength-building activities are essential to maintaining optimal results.

Proper recovery and post-op care are crucial in achieving successful outcomes. This includes restful sleep patterns, keeping dressings clean and changing them regularly, and eating well balanced yet low fat meals.

Women should include regular physical activities in their everyday lives, which could just be taking the stairs more often. Abdominoplasty provides dramatic body contoured changes, but it’s ultimately up to each patient how much effort they put into sustaining the outcome.

Alternatives to Abdominoplasty Surgery

There are non-surgical alternatives available for abdominal contouring and toning for those who do not want surgery. Some of these alternatives offer results comparable to abdominoplasty without any downtime.

Non-Surgical Options for Abdominal Contouring on Excess Skin

Non-surgical options include skin tightening procedures, such as BodyTite. BodyTite is a radio frequency treatment that tightens loose abdominal skin when only minimal laxity is present.

Other non-invasive body contouring technologies use ultrasound or thermal energy to reduce fat in targeted areas with no downtime. Panniculectomy may also be a less extensive alternative for a tummy tuck. It involves muscle repair and excision of large amounts of fatty tissue in different locations.

Lifestyle Changes and Exercise for Abdominal Toning

A healthier lifestyle is an effective alternative to a tummy tuck for obtaining toned abs. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help achieve the same results without going under the knife.

A healthy diet includes eating plenty of fiber, protein, and whole grains and avoids processed foods like white flour and sugar. A healthy diet will provide your body with the essential nutrients it needs to stay fit and energized.

When it comes to physical activities, different workout regimes can boost metabolism and achieve defined abs. These include cardio activities, circuit-style workouts, or strength routines like weightlifting, all of which target the core.

Frequently Asked Questions about Abdominoplasty Surgery

1. What is Abdominoplasty Surgery?

Abdominoplasty, commonly known as tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. This procedure also involves tightening the abdominal muscles.

2. Who Can Benefit from Abdominoplasty Surgery?

This surgery is usually beneficial for people who have loose skin around the midsection due to losing significant weight or pregnancies.Those who cannot achieve desired results through traditional exercise and dieting alone also make good candidates for the surgery.

3. What Should I Expect During Recovery After Abdominoplasty Surgery?

Recovering from this operation usually takes about four weeks. Few days following surgery, you will likely experience some discomfort if activities like bending over or lifting heavy objects are performed. Swelling will be observed for several months but should subside quickly with careful rest throughout the recovery period.

4. What Risks Are Associated with Having Abdominoplasty Surgery?

Overall risks are low especially when proper pre and post-op care have been observed while working closely alongside experienced doctors.

5. What is the Difference Between an Abdominoplasty and a Tummy Tuck?

An abdominoplasty and a tummy tuck are interchangeable terms. There are no differences in terms of procedure, technique, and benefits.

Conclusion and Summary of Abdominoplasty Surgery

An abdominoplasty is a complex surgery, so appropriate should be highly considered to reduce any potential risks or complications.

An excellent plastic surgeon with specialized skill sets that thoroughly understands anatomy, physiology, and relevant surgical techniques needed for this type of surgery. With their expertise, you can choose between a complete tummy tuck or a mini tummy tuck. It ultimately depends on what’s best suited for you aesthetically or medically.

Is a worthy option for those wanting to reshape their stomach. Still, people must have realistic expectations in mind before undergoing the treatment.

Meet with a surgeon who can give advice based on their own experience and understanding on how the procedure will benefit you. Ensure that your desired outcome is achievable so you’ll have complete satisfaction with the outcome.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before making any changes to your treatments, please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the appropriateness and safety of such changes.

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About the Author

Dr. Brandon Richland, MD is a respected Board Certified Licensed Plastic Surgeon in Orange County / Southern California specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Driven by his passion for medicine, Dr. Richland obtained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the prestigious program at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine in 2013. His exceptional skills were recognized when he received the McGraw Hill / Lange Medical Student Academic Achievement Award, and graduated top of his class with Honors. For his undergraduate degree, he attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with Honors in 2009.

To further enhance his surgical expertise, Dr. Richland completed his Residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2013 to 2019 earning the Academic Achievement Award twice during this period. A total of 14 years in dedicated schooling and medical residency.

Dr. Richland is actively involved with healthcare and medical societies, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Contact Dr. Richland today by visiting RichlandMD.com, scheduling a cosmetic consultation, or by calling 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 directly.