Abdominoplasty, also called a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure that removes excess fat and skin from the abdominal region. Muscles that have been separated can also be tightened, so the torso is basically reshaped. A tummy tuck is major surgery and is not considered a substitute for weight loss.
People who plan to get pregnant, who smoke and who are planning to lose a lot of weight are not considered good candidates for abdominoplasty. There are risks with abdominoplasty as with any major surgery. The main risks are:
• Poor wound healing
• Fluid accumulation under the skin
• Deep vein thrombosis
Consult a Surgeon
Your surgeon will need to understand your desires and lifestyle along with your medical record. You may need to discuss why you want the surgery, any medications you take including alcohol and tobacco and any previous surgery you have had. Your surgeon may want to take photographs for your medical records and explain the possible results of the surgery and potential complications and risks.
The recovery time after surgery is comparable with open heart surgery. It may take several weeks or even months before you are completely healed. With full abdominal reconstructive surgery, the surgeon will keep you in 24-hour care to make sure there are no complications. A mini tummy tuck is recommended for people who are near their desired body fat percentage. This requires only a small incision and may be done as an outpatient procedure.
Seven Questions to your Surgeon
Before you select a surgeon you can make a short list of surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. You can also find out if the surgery will be performed in an accredited facility. When you actually meet your surgeon you can ask:
1 How many abdominoplasties have you performed, and have you done any revision surgery on your own work? Your surgeon should be able to give you a clear answer and show you before and after photos of his or her work. You can get an idea of the surgeon’s skills from the photographs. They may be willing to give you the names of former patients who have experienced abdominoplasties and are satisfied.
2 Is a tummy tuck right for me? You will need to follow the surgeons recommendations associated with your medical history. However, you can ask personal questions. An abdominoplasty is highly individualized surgery, and each person will have unique results. You can ask your surgeon his opinion about what your results may be. He can give you an idea of how your body will shape up.
3 What are my options if I don’t like the results? Ask your surgeon how many times he has done revision surgery and why. If your doctor has a high rate of revision surgery for abdominoplasty, you may want to consult a different doctor.
4 Are my goals realistic? You may have expectations about how you will look after the surgery. These expectations may be possible, or they may be unrealistic. Your doctor should tell you what is possible and what is not.
5 Where will the scar be? You need to be completely clear about the position of the scar before the surgery. After examining you, the doctor may have a preference where to put the incision. You and the doctor should both be very clear about this from the beginning.
6 When will my life be normal? It is important to understand exactly what you can and cannot do during recovery, no matter how long it takes. You can completely undo the surgery by trying to be normal before you are ready. From the moment you go home you need to know when you can start your exercise regimen, lift heavy objects, have sex or go back to work.
7 How do I prepare for the surgery? If you smoke, you may be asked to quit at least six weeks before surgery. You may also be asked for a medical evaluation or to start or stop certain medications. You will be asked not to take aspirin or any anti-inflammatory drugs including herbal supplements because they can increase bleeding. You can find out what to do on the day of surgery and ask about the anesthesia, but, in most cases, you will meet the anesthesiologist the day before surgery.
After asking your surgeon all of your questions, you should feel confident that you have selected the right person. Your surgeon should adhere to a strict code of ethics and only operate in accredited medical facilities. He should fulfil continuing medical education requirements and meet standards and innovations in patient safety. When exercise and diet don’t give you the abdominal profile you desire, an abdominoplasty may be your best option.
Dr Robert Goldman is a leading cosmetic surgeon in Perth, Western Australia. He specialises in Breast Augmentation, Liposculpture, Tummy Tucks & Lapbiaplasty.