Just like other parts of our bodies, as we age, the abdominal skin loses its elasticity and the underlying muscle becomes loose and weak.
This together with the change of fat distribution, with preferential distribution of fat to the lower abdomen, leads to a significant change of abdominal shape. This natural phenomena is often exacerbated by pregnancy which may further stretch and separate the muscle, creating a bulge as well as excess loose skin with stretch marks which is not reversible with any form of exercise. In some, the lower abdominal bulge arises from the redundant skin fold following weight loss.
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is a procedure aimed to remove the loose excess skin, including stretch marks and tighten the weakened or separated abdominal muscle.
Abdominoplasty, when properly performed, should not only produce a firm and taut abdomen, but also recreate a waist line that was once obscured by a loose skin flap.
If, your fat deposits are limited to the area below the navel, you may require a partial abdominoplasty, also know as a mini-tummy tuck, which can often be performed on an outpatient basis. On the other hand, you may benefit more from partial or complete abdominoplasty done in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips, for a better body contour .This in turn would provide a more harmonious aesthetic balance with the whole body.
Abdominoplasty is performed in the hospital under general or spinal anaesthesia. Generally, a horizontal incision is placed just within or above the pubic area. The length of the incision depends largely on the amount of skin to be removed and usually the incision can be placed within the lines of the bathing suit.
Working through this incision, the underlying muscles are tightened. Liposuction, if needed is performed concomitantly to contour the waist, hips & back to reshape your figure. The excess skin is trimmed & stitched. The key part is the fascial suturing to get the contour right. Small drain tubes may be inserted under your skin to prevent fluid accumulation. Any discomfort will be controlled by medication.
You will notice swelling and bruising which is expected & will subside after a few weeks. Drain tubes come out after a few days. Stitches will generally be removed by the tenth day after surgery.
Complete abdominoplasty usually takes 4 – 5 hrs., depending on the extent of work required. Partial abdominoplasty (mini tummy tuck) may take 2-3 hrs.
A minimum stay of 2 days (48 hours) is advised with a full abdominoplasty (especially if combined with another procedure). A mini abdominoplasty can be performed on an outpatient basis although an overnight stay is advised.
You will be encouraged to get out of bed to promote blood circulation. In this early phase of healing, straining, bending and lifting should be avoided. You will be instructed to sleep on your back with your knees and hips bent.
Although everyone heals at different rate, your recovery is generally as follows: The dressing will be removed within few days. You will notice swelling and bruising which is expected. Both will subside after a few weeks. Drain tubes come out after a few days. Stitches will generally be removed by the tenth day after surgery.
The pressure garment must be worn as instructed for at least 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. You may return to work in a few days and resume most of your normal activities within a week or two. It is important to treat your healing skin with extra care – i.e. avoiding sun exposure
You may have a detailed discussion about this during your personal consultation. Some of the possible complications include – anaesthesia related complications, fluid accumulation, hematoma, infection, delayed skin healing, contour irregularity etc.