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Abdominoplasty

A cosmetic surgery procedure done to make the abdomen slim and firm.

What is Abdominoplasty

Abdominoplasty, known more commonly as a "tummy tuck," is a major surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall.

The best candidates for a Abdominoplasty

The best candidates for abdominoplasty are men or women who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by a large fat deposit or loose abdominal skin that won't respond to diet or exercise. The surgery is particularly helpful to women who, through multiple pregnancies, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients can also be improved.

Patients who intend to lose a lot of weight should postpone the surgery. Also, women who plan future pregnancies should wait.

Planning your surgery

If your fat deposits are limited to the area below the navel, you may require a less complex procedure called a partial abdominoplasty, also know as a mini-tummy tuck, which can often be performed on an outpatient basis. You may, on the other hand, benefit more from partial or complete abdominoplasty done in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips, for a better body contour. Or maybe liposuction alone would create the best result.

Preparing for your surgery

If you smoke, plan to quit at least one to two weeks before your surgery and not to resume for at least two weeks after your surgery. Avoid overexposure to the sun before surgery, especially to your abdomen, and do not go on a stringent diet, as both can inhibit your ability to heal. If you develop a cold or infection of any kind, your surgery will probably be postponed.

Types of anesthesia

Your doctor may select general anesthesia, so you will be insensitive to pain. However, you may feel some tugging or occasional discomfort. Alternatively it may be done with a local anesthesia and sedation (specially in cases of mini-abdominoplasty).

The surgery

Complete abdominoplasty usually takes two to four hours. Most commonly, the surgeon will make a long incision from hipbone to hipbone, just above the pubic area. A second incision is made to free the navel from surrounding tissue.

Next, the surgeon separates the skin from the abdominal wall all the way up to your ribs and lifts a large skin flap to reveal the vertical muscles in your abdomen. These muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position.

The skin flap is then stretched down and the extra skin is removed. A new hole is cut for your navel, which is then stitched in place. Finally, the incisions will be stitched, dressings will be applied, and a temporary tube may be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site.

After your surgery

For the first few days, your abdomen will probably be swollen and you're likely to feel some pain and discomfort. You should start walking as soon as possible.

Surface stitches will be removed in five to seven days, and deeper sutures, will come out in two to three weeks. The dressing on your incision may be replaced by a support garment.

Getting back to normal

It may take you weeks or months to feel like your old self again. Most people return to work after two weeks.

Exercise will help you heal better. Vigorous exercise, however, should be avoided. Expect it to take nine months to a year before your scars flatten out and lighten in color.

Complications

Post-operative complications such as infection and blood clots are rare, but can occur. Poor healing, which results in conspicuous scars, may necessitate a corrective procedure.

Your new look

Abdominoplasty, whether partial or complete, produces excellent results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin. And in most cases, the results are long lasting, if you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

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