Tummy tuck (also known as abdominoplasty) is a form of cosmetic surgical procedure that is used to make the abdomen more firm. In the procedure, excess fat and skin are removed from the mid and lower abdominal regions resulting into tighter muscle and fascia. The indications for this procedure include loose tissues in patients that have just had a pregnancy and sagging tissues in those who have had a major .
There are various categories of the surgery depending on the extent to which they are done. The categories are complete abdominoplasty, partial abdominoplasty, extended abdominoplasty, high lateral tension abdominoplasty and circumferential abdominoplasty. The most extensive would last up to 5 hours whereas a minor one does not usually exceed 2 hours.
In performing a complete abdominoplasty, the surgeon makes two incisions; one of them extends between the two hips slightly above pubic area. The other is made to separate the navel from the surrounding skin. The skin is then detached to expose the fascia and the muscles. Sutures are used to tighten these muscles and fascia. In order to clearly define transition zones of this area, liposuction is used. Before closure of the wound any excess fluid is drained. The tissues are sutured back into place and compression dressing applied.
Partial abdominoplasty requires a smaller incision. This is usually made in the lower abdomen. The excess skin and fatty tissue of this area are detached and removed. Suturing of the fascia and muscle is only done in selected cases. As in complete abdominoplasty, liposuction is also done to define the transition zones.
In extended abdominoplasty a complete abdominoplasty is combined with a lateral thigh lift. The liposuction technique of complete abdominoplasty is extended to the upper lateral thigh. High lateral tension abdominoplasty differs slightly from the other techniques. In this procedure, there is horizontal rather than vertical tightening of the muscles. This has been found to yield the best results. Circumferential abdominoplasty is recommended for individuals that have lost weight. It is simply an extended abdominoplasty combined with a buttock lift.
The results obtained after the procedure vary between patients. The success will depend on the extent of the problem, the surgical technique chosen and the surgical skill of the attending surgeon. Post operatively patients are required to avoid heavy activities and not to take nicotine until they recover. On average, it takes about four weeks to recover. Healing should be complete in 3-6 months.
As with any form of major surgery, there are a number of risks associated with the tummy tuck procedure. These include fluid accumulation around the surgical site, skin discolouration, skin loss, prolonged swelling and wound separation among others. If the proper precautions are taken, however, these complications are a rare occurrence.