Tummy tuck surgery, also known as an abdomioplasty, can benefit patients who have loose abdominal skin and fat that is concentrated in the abdomen. Often, pregnancy or substantial weight loss may cause abdominal skin to become stretched out and excessive. When Dr. Charles Hsu, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, performs a tummy tuck, he removes the excess skin and also tightens the abdominal muscles that have been separated and weakened in these cases. The procedure can eliminate some stretch marks that are located below the belly button, since the affected skin is removed as part of the operation.
Best Candidates for Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck is suitable for both men and women who are in good general health overall, but these are some of the common reasons patients get a tummy tuck:
Patients who have gained and lost weight, such as in pregnancy or weight gain
Patients with excess skin and some fat in the abdomen
Dr. Hsu starts each consultation by asking about the patient’s medical history, including current medications and medical conditions. After a physical examination of the abdominal area to see if there is enough excess skin and muscle laxity in the area to warrant a tummy tuck Dr. Hsu will decide if the patient is a good candidate for abdomioplasty. Dr. Hsu will then develop a treatment plan based on the individual needs and concerns of the patient.
The surgery will take about 2-3 hours. Very commonly, patients will also request to get liposuction of the flanks in conjunction with their tummy tuck procedure. In this case, the liposuction will add about a half hour to the total procedure time. The incision site for the tummy tuck is around the bikini line and is usually hidden by underwear. Depending how much excess skin there is, a wedge of skin in the shape of an ellipse will be removed, and the remaining skin will be stretched down to tack onto the incision site. Since Dr. Hsu will be removing the skin below the belly button, any stretch marks in that region will be removed. For some patients with a lot of excess skin, any stretch marks above the belly button will also be removed. Dr. Hsu will take as much skin as possible while allowing enough leftover to close the incision without causing any healing difficulties. For most patients Dr. Hsu will also pull the abdomen muscles to tighten it, therefore tightening the muscle layer and skin layer.
Recovery and Post-Op
Following the surgery, the patient will wear a compression garment for a couple of weeks to aid the healing process. The surgicenter nurse will teach the patient how to take care of the drains/tubes after the operation. Patients will need to measure the amount of fluid that comes out of the drains every day. Once that amount drops below a certain level, Dr. Hsu will take them out. The vast majority of patients usually keep the tubes in for 2 weeks, but this time frame may vary. Most patients resume work and light activities after 2 weeks when the swelling and bruising becomes minimal. Strenuous activity and exercise can be started after 6 weeks.
From Dr. Hsu
“I think that the tummy tuck procedure (abdominoplasty) can really work well for patients whose problem is excess skin. There is often a misconception that this is an operation to remove excess fat; in fact, it really is an operation to remove excess skin. The best candidates for this procedure have lost all of the weight that they want to or are able to, and want to remove as much of the excess skin as possible.
The biggest concern about tummy tuck is usually the scar. My approach is to place the scar as low as possible, while making sure it is not so low that there are issues with healing. That is the balance that is required -- if the incision is placed very low, the skin closure can sometimes be very tight, and that can cause pulling on the incision that can complicate healing, or can also lead to wider scars in the future.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect from my final Tummy Tuck results?
The result of a tummy tuck should last several years under normal circumstances. Once the skin is tightened, it will get a little looser with the aging process. If, however, one was to gain then lose a large amount of weight after tummy tuck or become pregnant, the abdominal skin could stretch out again, negatively impacting the overall contour.
Recovery Tips to after Tummy Tuck surgery?
After a tummy tuck, the incision site will be stitched and bandaged. It's very important that the patient follow all Dr. Hsu's instructions on how to care for the bandage in the days following surgery. The bandage or compression garment used will be a firm, elastic band that promotes proper healing. Dr. Hsu will also instruct the patient on the best positions for sitting or lying down to help ease pain.
Other options within Tummy Tuck?
There are two options for a tummy tuck. Based on the patient’s desired results, and Dr. Hsu will determine the appropriate procedure during the consultation. The first option is a complete abdominoplasty. Dr. Hsu will then manipulate and contour the skin, tissue and muscle as needed. The second option is a partial or mini-tummy tuck. Mini-tummy tucks are often performed on patients whose excess skin is located below the navel and require shorter incisions.