A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a commonly performed surgery that tightens weak or stretched muscles and removes excess skin, creating a flat and toned abdomen. The procedure helps to tighten the loose skin and fat of the abdominal wall, particularly around the navel, through the controlled removal and elevation of skin and fat in this area. The navel is reinserted into the skin after the tightening procedure. It is possible to diminish the appearance of stretch marks from the lower abdomen, but permanent removal of all stretch marks is not guaranteed following tummy tuck surgery.
The mini tummy tuck, or mini abdominoplasty, is ideal for people who have excessive fat between the belly button and the pubic bone. Bulging in this area is due to the accumulation of excess fatty tissue as well as flaccidity of the lower stomach muscles. The muscles in this area become flaccid because of the absence of or damage to (i.e. from pregnancy) the supportive tissue (called fascia) in the lower portion of the abdomen. During the procedure, the abdominal walls are tightened and excess skin and fat is removed.
The mini tummy tuck usually takes place in a hospital setting under general anesthesia. However, it can be performed under local anesthesia with sedation. Once the patient is anesthetized, a 10-15 cm incision is made across the abdomen and excess skin and fat are cut away. The muscles of the abdominal wall may be tightened. The belly button may be detached and then re-attached in order to better move the skin. Liposuction is often performed to remove excess fat.
Most patients require at least one week away from work. The abdominal skin may be tight immediately afterward and it is important to minimize pressure on the incision by limiting activity. Drains may be placed near the surgery site for around a week to help with the removal of fluids. Obviously taking time to rest and allowing the body to heal is very important. Strenuous activities cannot be resumed for at least 6 weeks after the procedure. A thorough discussion with a cosmetic surgeon is important to ensure a complete understanding of what is required post-operation to ensure a safe and quick recovery.
Abdominoplasty is generally safe. Risks vary depending on the type of anesthesia and exact procedures used. It is critical to understand these risks and to have realistic expectations about the outcome of your surgery. An in-depth discussion with your surgeon will help with understanding the risks, benefits, and expected outcomes. Reactions to anesthesia are rare but can be serious. Necrosis of the skin that forms the belly button can cause loss of the belly button and scarring. Necrosis is more common in smokers.
Pain usually accompanies most all surgeries and pain medications can assit with comfort during the healing period. Severe pain can indicate a serious problem and should be discussed with your surgeon. Bleeding and/or collections of blood in the skin called hematomas are also a risk. Further surgical procedures may be required to remove hematomas. It is important that you stop all over the counter, herbal, prescription medications, and vitamins that affect bleeding to decrease your risk of hematoma formation and bleeding. Swelling is a normal part of healing but can last for longer than expected periods. Scarring occurs with any surgery and final scar appearance cannot be predicted. A scar can vary from a nearly invisible line to a large, raised, discolored scar. Unattractive scars can be treated through medical or surgical intervention. Infection is always a risk of surgery. You may be given antibiotics after tummy tuck surgery and post operative wound care is important as well.
Tummy tuck costs vary based on the region/location, the surgeon performing the procedure, demand, time and effort required during the procedure, and what is required from start to finish, such as anesthesia fees, hospital stay fees, lab fees, etc. Patients can usually expect the procedure to cost $5,000-$9,000. To consult with a cosmetic surgeon and discuss a tummy tuck procedure and the overall cost, find a surgeon in your area who is right for you.
This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.
By OnlineSurgery Staff
Updated: October 1, 2008