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Body Contouring Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty

A Smoother Abdominal Profile with Birmingham, Alabama Body Contouring

People who have lost a considerable amount of weight, possibly following bariatric surgery, often experience excess abdominal skin and laxity of the abdominal muscles. Even those of near-normal body weight and proportions to begin with can develop a protruding, loose or sagging abdomen.

The causes of excess abdominal fat and skin include aging, heredity, pregnancy, prior surgery and significant fluctuations in weight. Even though many of us strive for a flat and well-toned abdomen through exercise and weight control, these methods sometimes fail to achieve our goals.

A Tummy Tuck, or Abdominoplasty, creates a smoother, firmer abdominal profile in better proportion to your weight and body type.

The board-certified plastic surgeons at Hedden Plastic Surgery — William J. Hedden, M.D. and Christopher J. Schaffer, M.D. — are highly experienced in performing tummy tucks and other body contouring procedures.

By removing excess fat and skin from the abdomen area, and in most cases restoring weakened or separated abdominal muscles, the Alabama plastic surgeons at our cosmetic surgery center in Birmingham can streamline your figure and put a bounce in your step.

Tummy Tuck Candidates

In general, good candidates for a tummy tuck include:

  • People who are bothered by the appearance of their abdomen.
  • Non-smokers who are physically healthy and at a stable weight.
  • People who have realistic expectations.

A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program.

Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight. For this reason, people who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies would be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.

A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although they may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that are excised.

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Your Tummy Tuck Consultation

By choosing a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) for your tummy tuck procedure, you can be assured that you are choosing a highly-trained, board-certified plastic surgeon. ASPS Member Surgeons must meet rigorous standards for training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery.

The success and safety of your tummy tuck depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You will be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle. Be prepared to discuss:

  • Your surgical goals.
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments.
  • Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
  • Previous surgeries.

Your tummy tuck surgeon will also:

  • Evaluate your general health and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors.
  • Take photographs.
  • Discuss your body contouring options and recommend a course of treatment.
  • Discuss likely tummy tuck outcomes and any risks or potential complication.

Be sure to ask questions at your consultation. It is very important to understand all aspects of your tummy tuck. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether preoperative stress or excitement about your anticipated new look. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.

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Tummy Tuck Risks and Safety Information

The decision to have abdominoplasty surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits of a tummy tuck will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable.

The risks of a tummy tuck include:

  • Anesthesia risks.
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Fluid accumulation (seroma).
  • Poor wound healing.
  • Skin loss.
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation.
  • Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling.
  • Unfavorable scarring.
  • Recurrent looseness of skin.
  • Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis).
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications.
  • Asymmetry.
  • Suboptimal aesthetic result.
  • Possibility of revisional surgery.
  • Persistent pain.

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all of your questions directly with your plastic surgeon. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks.

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Preparing for Tummy Tuck Surgery

In preparing for a tummy tuck, you may be asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation.
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, as they can increase bleeding.

Your tummy tuck may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, licensed ambulatory surgical center or hospital. If performed as an outpatient procedure, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and stay with you for at least the first night.

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Tummy Tuck Procedure

Anesthesia choices for abdominoplasty surgery include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Tummy Tuck Incisions

A full tummy tuck requires a horizontally-oriented incision in the area between the pubic hairline and belly button.

Diagram of tummy tuck incision between pubic hairline and belly button

The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the amount of excess skin. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, the underlying weakened abdominal muscles are repaired.

A second incision around the navel may be necessary to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen.

Diagram of tummy tuck incision around the navel

The upper abdominal skin is pulled down like a window shade. The excess skin is trimmed and the remaining skin is sutured together. A new opening for the belly button is created. The belly button is popped through to the surface and sutured into position.

Tummy Tuck before and after diagram

The skin incisions are closed with sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips.

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Tummy Tuck Recovery

Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself. Following your physician's instructions is essential to the success of your abdominoplasty and recovery. These instructions may include:

  • How to care for the surgical site and drains.
  • Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection.
  • Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health.
  • When to follow-up with your plastic surgeon.

During your tummy tuck recovery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions and you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or compression garment to minimize swelling and support your abdomen as it heals. Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluids that may collect.

It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion or motion during the time of healing.

Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your tummy tuck recovery period:

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery, and when will they be removed?
  • When will the stitches be removed?
  • How will I bathe?
  • How long will I wear the pressure garment?
  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
  • When do I return for follow-up care?

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Tummy Tuck Results

The results of your tummy tuck may be initially obscured by swelling and your inability to stand fully upright until internal healing is complete. Within a week or two, you should be standing tall and confident in your slimmer profile. Your tummy tuck will result in a flatter, firmer abdominal contour that is more proportionate with your body type and weight.

Previous abdominal surgery may limit the potential results of a tummy tuck.

The tummy tuck scar may take several months to a year to fade as much as it will. In women who have undergone cesarean section, the existing scars may be incorporated into the new scar.

Although good results are expected from your abdominoplasty, there is no guarantee. In some situations it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single tummy tuck and another surgery may be necessary.

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Tummy Tuck Words to Know

  • Abdominoplasty: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
  • Diastasis: Condition in which abdominal muscles have separated.
  • General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
  • Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
  • Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection to help you relax.
  • Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, a procedure which vacuums out fat from beneath the skin's surface to reduce fullness.
  • Local anesthesia: A drug is injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
  • Sutures: Stitches used to hold skin and tissue together.
  • Tummy tuck: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.

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Procedure Information © American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Please contact Hedden Plastic Surgery in Birmingham, Alabama today to find out more about smoothing your abdominal profile with a Tummy Tuck.