An abdominoplasty is a procedure that flattens your abdomen by removing extra fat and skin and tightening muscles in your abdominal wall. This surgical procedure is also known as a tummy tuck.
It is a major surgery, so it is important to educate yourself, thoroughly analyze your own situation, and take your time arriving at a final decision. A tummy tuck should be the last resort for people who have exhausted all other measures, and the procedure should not be used as an alternative to weight loss.
A tummy tuck is suitable for both men and women who are in good general health overall and are at a stable weight. It is best to be a non-smoker.
A tummy tuck should not be confused with a liposuction (the cosmetic surgery used to remove fat deposits), although your surgeon may choose to perform liposuction as part of a tummy tuck. Women who have muscles and skin stretched after several pregnancies may find the procedure useful to tighten those muscles and reduce that skin. A tummy tuck is also an alternative for men or women who were obese at one point in their lives, and still have excessive fat deposits or loose skin in the abdominal area.
If you're a woman who is still planning to have children, you may want to postpone a tummy tuck until you're through bearing children. During surgery, your vertical muscles are tightened. Future pregnancies can separate these muscles and cause a hernia.
Are you still planning to lose a lot of weight? Then you do not want to consider a tummy tuck until your weight has stabilized.
It's important to note that a tummy tuck causes scarring on the abdomen. This scar is usually long and might be noticeable . If this is something you don't want, you may want to reconsider.
Your doctor will discuss all these options with you when you go for the consultation. You and your surgeon will discuss the results you want, and the surgeon will determine the appropriate procedure during your consultation.
Depending on the results you want, this surgery can take anywhere from one to five hours. Your situation also will decide whether you have the surgery as an in-patient or outpatient procedure. You will receive general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep during the operation. It's important to have someone with you who can drive you home. If you live alone and you're sent home after the procedure, you also will need someone to stay with you at least the first night after the surgery.
After your partial or complete tummy tuck, your incision site will be stitched and bandaged. Your surgeon may have you wear an elastic bandage or compression garment after surgery. If so, it's very important that you follow all of your surgeon's instructions on wearing this garment and caring for the bandage. Your surgeon will also instruct you on how to best position yourself while sitting or lying down to help ease pain.
If you are exceptionally physically active, you will have to severely limit strenuous exercise for four to six weeks. Your doctor will advise you on this as you go through the healing process. You may need to take up to one month off work after the surgery to make sure that you recover properly. Again, your doctor will help you determine this.
Smoking can increase the risk of complications and delay healing. If you smoke, you will have to stop for a certain period as determined by your doctor. It is not enough to just cut down on smoking. You must completely stop using all forms of nicotine — gum, patches, and e-cigarettes — for at least two weeks before surgery and for two weeks after.
Make sure you eat well-balanced, complete meals. Do not try to diet excessively before the surgery. Proper nutrition plays a key role in healing properly.
As part of your pre-operative consultation, your surgeon may instruct you to stop taking some of your medications and dietary supplements for a certain period before and after the surgery. You must let your surgeon know if you are taking any blood thinners.
Make sure you set up the safest, most comfortable recovery area to meet your needs before you undergo the surgery. Your home recovery area should include:
As expected, you will have pain and swelling after surgery. Your doctor can prescribe a painkiller if needed, and will instruct you on how best to treat the pain.
Soreness may last for several weeks or months. You may also have numbness, bruising, and overall tiredness for that same time period.
As with any surgery, there are risks. You may have an increased risk of complications if you have poor circulation, diabetes, heart, lung, or liver disease, or if you smoke. Complications can include:
Generally, most people love the new look after they've undergone this procedure; however, you may not feel like your normal self for months after the surgery. You've gone through a tremendous amount to make this happen. It is a big commitment, emotionally, physically, and financially. It is very important that you follow proper diet and exercise to maintain your new look.
Insurance carriers usually do not cover elective, cosmetic surgery. But your carrier may cover a certain percentage if you have a hernia that will be corrected through the procedure, or if you have had surgery for weight loss. It's extremely important that you begin communicating with your insurance company early on, and that you discuss your insurance concerns with your surgeon.
In most cases, your surgeon will write a letter to your insurance carrier, making the case that the surgery is medically necessary, if it applies to you. Insurance may only cover certain portions of the surgery, so make sure you get details. With any cosmetic surgery, this may affect future insurance coverage for you, and your premiums may increase.
© Copyright 1995-2019 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 09/02/2016