There are different types of flaws that can affect the stomach. Unwanted fat, wrinkled skin, stretch marks, and displacement of the belly button can make patients feel embarrassed about exposing their bellies. When pregnancy, weight fluctuations, or aging have affected skin and muscle tone, along with the appearance of the belly button, our Philadelphia surgeons perform tummy tuck surgery, or abdominoplasty.
Tummy Tuck Candidates
While liposuction surgery is performed when patients have excess abdominal fat, tummy tuck surgery may be used to treat:
- Loose skin
- Stretch marks
- Poor muscle tone
These flaws commonly affect patients that have had children or lost a significant amount of weight; they are also common in patients over the age of 40.
Good candidates for tummy tuck surgery should also be in good health and not smoke cigarettes.
Tummy Tuck Techniques
The tummy tuck procedure is tailored to the needs of patients. Some may require a smaller incision and minimal skin tightening, while others require a longer incision and more skin removal. Our Philadelphia surgeons will determine which tummy tuck technique is appropriate for you during a comprehensive consultation.
- Mini tummy tuck: The mini tummy tuck is best suited to patients in need of minor tightening of the skin on the stomach, and those who do not require adjustment of the belly button. In this approach, a three-inch, curved, horizontally-oriented incision is made in the lower abdomen; this enables our surgeons to re-position and tighten muscles that have become displaced or loose, and to remove excess skin.
- Traditional tummy tuck: In traditional tummy tuck surgery, a six-inch, curved, horizontally-oriented incision is made between the pubic area and the lower abdomen and up into the natural crease of the legs. With this incision, we can suture the abdominal muscles and remove the excess of skin. Next, a circular incision is made around the belly button; this allows for tightening of the skin on the upper abdomen and reconstruction of the belly button.
- Extended tummy tuck: The extended tummy tuck is performed when the patient has an excess of skin on the flanks, as well as the stomach. In this technique, the incision extends up from the natural crease of the legs and around to the outer back. This gives our surgeons access to the skin on the sides of the body, as well as the stomach.
Tummy Tuck Procedure
The abdominoplasty procedure takes about two hours to perform. It involves these surgical steps:
- A surgical pen is used to mark the location and length of the abdominal incision
- Our board certified anesthesiologist puts the patient under general anesthesia
- Anti-bacterial solution is applied to the lower abdomen and belly button to reduce the risk of infection
- An incision is made in the lower abdomen, and belly button, if needed
- The skin is separated from the underlying muscles
- The muscles are adjusted, re-positioned, and sutured
- Excess skin is removed, along with any stretch marks that affect the skin below the belly button
- The skin is re-draped over the abdomen, producing a smooth and toned appearance
- If necessary, the belly button is reconstructed
- All incisions are closed and the area is cleaned
- Medical tape is applied over the incisions and gauze is applied to the treatment area
- The patient is put in a compression garment
Tummy Tuck Recovery
The tummy tuck procedure requires a lengthier recovery than most other plastic surgery procedures. For the first week after surgery, we recommend that patients rest, keep the head elevated, and apply soft ice packs to the stomach.
Patients can shower, with the drains in place, 48 hours after surgery. Be sure to exercise caution and pat the medical tape and drains dry after the shower. You can change the gauze, but do not remove the medical tape before your first post-operative appointment. Tummy tuck patients should wear a compression garment, at all times except when showering, for at least four weeks after surgery.
We encourage patients to perform lower leg and calf exercises, while lying down, to prevent blood clots. Patients should also start taking five-minute walks as soon as they feel up to it. However, strenuous exercise, bending, and lifting should be avoided for four to six weeks after surgery.
Do not expose the stomach to the sun or heat for three months after surgery. Sun exposure can worsen scarring and heat can increase inflammation.
Tummy Tuck Side Effects
Tummy tuck surgery results in the following side effects:
- Numbness or itching at the incision site
Tummy Tuck Risks
Though rare, complications can result during or after tummy tuck surgery. Possible risks include:
- Allergic reaction to anesthesia or medical materials
- Excessive bleeding
- Fluid accumulation
- Blood clots
- Slow wound healing
- Skin numbness
- Nerve damage
Tummy Tuck Results
It takes time to recover from tummy tuck surgery. As such, the best and final results are not visible immediately. Final results of tummy tuck surgery are apparent by two to three months after surgery.
Philadelphia Tummy Tuck Consultations
We invite you to contact our Philadelphia practice to schedule your tummy tuck consultation.