What is it? The abdomen is an area that patients often focus on and wish to improve. Surgery can help you to look and feel better both in and out of clothes, and greatly increase your confidence. If you have small focal areas of fat in your lower abdomen and love handles and good skin and muscle tone, you are probably a more appropriate candidate for liposuction alone. If you have extra fat as well as extra skin and/or loose abdominal muscles (diastasis), an abdominoplasty is more appropriate. An abdominoplasty serves to reset the balance and anatomy of the abdomen by removing extra fat and skin through an incision hidden in your bikini line. Additional fat is often removed at the same time using liposuction. The muscles of the abdominal wall are also tightened. You will have a long linear scar from hip to hip that is hidden in your underwear line, as well as a scar around your belly button. A mini abdominoplasty is a more limited version for people with less extra skin. A shorter scar is made, and only the muscles below the belly button are tightened. Sometimes the belly button is also left in its original position. If you have an umbilical hernia, this can be addressed at the same time as the abdominoplasty. Before surgery, it is important that you are at a stable healthy weight. Otherwise, you will not benefit as much from the surgery, and will potentially need further surgery/revisions in the future. We will ask you to have a compression garment purchased before the day of your operation. If you want to get a tummy tuck in Houston, Lift Plastic Surgery is your best choice.
What happens during surgery? On the day of surgery, the proposed incisions and areas of fat removal will be marked in the pre-operative area. In surgery, a low incision will be made from hip to hip and the fat and skin will be lifted up off of the muscles of the abdominal wall. Liposuction will also be performed to help contour the waist. The abdominal muscles are then tightened with permanent sutures. The tissue is pulled down like an apron, and everything that is extra is removed and the belly button is brought out through a new hole. Sometimes the old belly button position will leave a small vertical scar as well, if removing it would not allow the abdomen to be closed. Special sutures are placed between the fat and abdominal wall to help decrease fluid buildup and recreate the normal anatomic lines of the abdomen. Drains are also placed. The incisions are closed with absorbable sutures, and covered with tape and skin glue. You will then be placed into a compression garment. Depending on your preference, you can either go home or stay a night in the hospital.
What will my tummy tuck recovery be like? You will go home with drains which usually stay in for 1-2 weeks and are later removed in the office. You will be able to start showering the day after surgery. Postoperatively, you will have some discomfort. This is almost like muscle soreness after a workout, but it is usually not significantly painful. Additionally, you will not be able to stand up straight and must stay flexed at the waist for several weeks until the abdominal skin stretches out. You must wear a compression garment at all times other than showering for the first 6 weeks to limit swelling and improve your results. No vigorous exercise or activity is allowed for the first 6 weeks after surgery. Expect that your abdomen will be swollen, and this will gradually decrease over the next few months.
What are the risks? Since we are lifting the skin and fat off of the abdominal muscles during surgery, this creates a space where fluid can collect. If this happens after your drains are removed, a localized fluid collection or seroma can form. If the seroma is persistent, we may have to drain it in the office with a needle. Sometimes this has to be done several times before the seroma resolves. Very rarely, the seroma does not go away, and this would require a trip back to the operating room.