A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes excess or sagging skin and fatty tissue from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten muscles of the abdominal wall. In some cases, a tummy tuck can help repair hernias or separated muscles. The procedure is very effective in changing the appearance of your abdomen. An abdominoplasty will help you achieve the flat tummy that you’ve always dreamed of!
Surgery… Bring your desired undergarment or bikini wear to surgery. Dr. Chen Lee will mark your incision lines while you are still wearing these undergarments.Tummy tuck incisions are planned so that the scars will eventually be concealed by your clothing. In most cases, it is necessary to plan a horizontal lower abdominal incision and a circular incision around the navel. During the abdominoplasty procedure, the skin is surgically lifted from the abdominal wall all the way up to the ribs, exposing the abdominal muscles. These muscles are tightened by bringing them close together and joined in the middle vertical line; this will make your abdominal muscles firmer and your waist narrower. The skin that was separated is stretched towards the pubis, the excess skin is removed and the navel is placed in its new position. Dr. Chen Lee will usually leave temporary drainage tubes to eliminate the excess fluid may otherwise accumulate in the early days after a tummy tuck.
Recovery…Following a tummy tuck, patients are discharged with drains in place for several days. Dr. Chen Lee usually performs the abdominoplasty procedure as an outpatient. Patients will return for follow-up visits on a weekly basis for the first month. Return to normal activities requires up to 6 weeks. Most people remain out of work for 2-3 weeks.
Results…Abdominoplasty, whether partial or complete, produces excellent results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin. Some women may choose to also undergo liposuction of their hips or other regions at the same time in order to achieve an enhanced result. In most cases, the results following tummy tuck and abdominoplasty are long lasting, provided you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Depending on the complexity of the problem and the requisite surgical procedure, this scar may extend across the entire lower abdomen.
Tummy tucks can be combined with other forms of body contouring surgery, including liposuction, or performed at the same time with other elective surgeries. Dr. Chen Lee is a board certified plastic surgeon. He will perform a complete evaluation to determine if you are a candidate for abdominoplasty.
Q. Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) procedure?
A. Candidates must be in good health, have no active diseases or serious, pre-existing medical conditions, and must have realistic expectations of the outcome achievable with abdominoplasty. If you plan to become pregnant or to lose a significant amount of weight, you should discuss these plans with Dr. Chen Lee before surgery. Abdominoplasty is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise. Individuals who intend to lose weight should postpone their tummy tuck surgery until they have reached a stable body weight.
Q. How to prepare for an abdominoplasty?
A. You must strictly follow the instructions of Dr Chen Lee before your tummy tuck surgery. These would include guidelines on eating, drinking and smoking, taking or avoiding vitamins, iron tablets and certain medications. If you develop a cold or an infection of any kind, especially a skin infection, your abdominoplasty procedure may have to be postponed. Avoid exposing your abdomen to the sun before surgery, and do not go on a stringent diet, as both can make it difficult for you to heal after a tummy tuck operation.
Q. What happens after a tummy tuck surgery?
A. After an abdominoplasty, you will find it difficult to sit or stand for long periods (lasts first several days). But you must avoid straining, bending and lifting as these activities may lead to increased swelling or bleeding. Frequently, you are instructed to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. Despite these symptoms you will be advised to walk frequently to avoid a deep venous thrombosis.
Q. What precautions should you take after the abdominoplasty procedure?
A. You would need to visit Dr. Chen Lee at prescribed intervals for follow-up care after tummy tuck surgery. Your progress and and healing will be closely followed.
Q. What are the risks and side effects following a tummy tuck?
A. Initial wound healing may take 5 to 10 days, and you will have swelling and some discomfort which can be controlled by medication. It will be difficult to stand straight in the beginning, but you should start walking as soon as possible so as to avoid blood clots and other complications. The abdominoplasty stitches will be removed as soon as the incisions have healed, and you should be able to return to work and normal activity (although you should not engage in excessive lifting or vigorous exercise for 6 weeks).
Q. What if I get pregnant?
A. There have been cases of women getting pregnant and carrying their baby to full term without any difficulties after abdominoplasty. The skin is a wonderful elastic organ capable of being stretched over time. It has been our experience that patients may or may not need further surgery following their pregnancy. Nevertheless, Dr. Chen Lee recommends having an abdominoplasty after you have had all your children.
Q. Will I gain weight again?
A. The portion of abdominal skin and fat that was removed with a tummy tuck will never come back again. However, if you do not watch what you eat and neglect to exercise it is very likely that you will gain weight in all other areas.
Q. Are my abdominoplasty results permanent?
A. There is a permanent reduction of abdominal skin and subcutaneous tissue following a tummy tuck. However, some recurrence is possible especially in patients that have weight gain.
Q. Will my tummy be completely flat?
A. Possibly. Remember that if you are overweight there is always a residual amount of fat underneath the abdominal skin following surgery that will not allow you to be flat. Even patients who are within their weight limit may not be “completely” flat because their expectations exceed the possible surgical outcome with a tummy tuck procedure. A better term that we like to use is to leave you “flatter”. Also remember that even thin persons when sitting will have some hanging skin and fat.
Q. Will my abdominal stretch marks go away?
A. Very possibly. There are no permanent cures for stretch marks. Different creams and remedies exist that temporarily hydrate the skin making the stretch marks less visible but they do not remove stretch marks. Lasers have been utilized to treat stretch marks but are only effective in reducing the color intensity of red/bluish ones. If your stretch marks exist below the umbilicus the likelihood is very high that an abdominoplasty will remove them. However, if the stretch marks are above the umbilicus or on the hips they will not be removed. With a tummy tuck, the stretch marks above the umbilicus will lie near the pubic area following your abdominoplasty surgery.