Following pregnancy or significant weight loss, the abdominal area is often left with excess fat and loose, sagging skin. These excesses can even affect those who are at or near a normal body weight. Unfortunately, diet and exercise alone cannot address these issues. An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure used to remove excess tissue and tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall, improving the contour and appearance of the lower abdomen.

Women and men who suffer from loose abdominal skin and fat can benefit from the abdominoplasty procedure. Additionally, the procedure can also tighten muscles that have been separated and weakened as a result of pregnancy. The severity of these problems varies from patient to patient, and thus an individualized treatment will be developed during your tummy tuck consultation with Dr. Sati, MD. Some patients may be candidates for smaller, ‘mini’ abdominoplasty procedures,while others will require a full tummy tuck operation.

 

About the procedure:

Abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia and takes two to three hours. While smaller procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, most patients undergoing a full tummy tuck stay in the hospital overnight.

 

Post- operative instructions:

  • Following the operation, you will wake up with a compression garment (abdominal binder) around the abdomen. Underneath the compression garment are two drainage tubes.
  • The drainage tubes will remain in place for at least one week, during which you will empty and record the drainage from them, which Dr. Sati, MD, will instruct you on beforehand. These records must be brought to your follow-up appointment.
  • Occasionally, patients complain of nausea following the operation. This generally passes after 24 to 48 hours, and is minimized by consuming liquids frequently and avoiding taking pain medication on an empty stomach.
  • Once home, you may get up to use the bathroom or to take a light walk around the house, but remain flexed at the waist while resting, changing positions and walking. When taking pain medication, exercise caution in the home, particularly when performing tasks like climbing stairs.
  • The compression garment must stay in place for three days, after which you may remove it to shower. To avoid dizziness, remove the garment while lying in bed. It is important to have someone assist you in the shower, in case you feel faint. Secure the drainage tubes before showering (some patients have a family member or friend hold the drains).
  • With the exception of showering, the compression garment must be worn at all times, day and night, for four weeks after the procedure.
  • It is best to rest and sleep on your back, with your head elevated. Some patients find added comfort by placing a pillow under their knees and calves.
  • You will be able to resume driving after one or two weeks depending on how you feel, though it should be avoided when taking pain medication, which causes drowsiness. Light exercise, such as walking or using a stationary bike, may be resumed after at least two weeks. Heavy exercise and heavy lifting are not permitted for at least six weeks after the procedure.

 

The healing process:

  • Unlike more limited plastic surgery operations, abdominoplasty involves a careful recovery.
  • Following the procedure, the abdomen will be swollen, bruised and sore. Pain medication may be used as prescribed whenever experiencing discomfort. Swelling and bruising will take several weeks or longer to subside.
  • Most patients require two weeks off work.
  • Tightness of the abdomen is to be expected, and tends to improve over several weeks to months.
  • The incision may be raised, red and hard to the touch for several months. The scars will soften and fade over time.
  • The final results of the procedure can be judged six months to one year after the operation.

 

Follow-up appointments:

  • First follow-up: One week after the operation (at which time the bandages will be removed, your drainage record will be reviewed and Dr. Sati, MD, will decide if the drainage tubes are ready to be removed)
  • Second follow-up: Three weeks after the operation
  • Subsequent appointments will be scheduled on a case-by-case basis with your surgeon