Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty is a clinical procedure that involves the removal and reshaping of the abdominal skin, muscle and fat to make it look a lot more cosmetically pleasant. Having a flat stomach seems to be what a lot of people across the globe wish to have these days. Many of them try different methods such as abdominal crunches and different machines in order to achieve this.

Diet and exercise form of big part of the tummy flattening plan but many times this does not work. If there is a clinical indication, patients may be able to undergo a tummy tuck procedure in order to remove any extra fat and skin and make the abdomen appear flat and toned.

We shall briefly discuss the tummy tuck procedure and how it may benefit an individual.

Who are suitable to undergo a tummy tuck procedure?

In general, any man or woman who is otherwise fit and well can undergo a tummy tuck procedure. It is often offered to women who have been through number of pregnancies as this procedure can help increase the muscle tone of the abdominal wall and also reduce any excess skin that may have grown when the abdomen stretching during pregnancy (this is in fact the most common indication).

In addition to this, tummy tuck procedure can also be offered to patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery and who have lost a lot of abdominal fat as a result. In such patients, there is often excess skin that is hanging around the abdomen that will need removing and reshaping.

It must be borne in mind that it tummy tuck procedure is not a weight loss procedure. It is only a cosmetic procedure to improve appearance. In addition, it helps tighten the abdominal muscles that may have become lax following pregnancy or due to intrinsic muscle defects such as diastasis recti (a condition characterised by splitting of the abdominal muscles).

This video offers more information on the indications for tummy tuck and how it is performed in brief.

When is a tummy tuck procedure not performed?

There are a number of different contraindications to performing a tummy tuck procedure. If a patient has multiple underlying conditions such as heart disease, morbid obesity and uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, surgery is not advised. Women who wish to become pregnant in the near future will be advised against this procedure.

A previous history of blood clots is also a contraindication. If patients already have scars on their abdomen from previous surgeries, a tummy tuck procedure is not advised though this reason is not absolute. Patients who actively smoke and are not willing to give up will not be offered the procedure as smoking prevents the skin incisions from healing.

A tummy tuck procedure is not performed for patients who are morbidly obese who believe that they can achieve a completely flat stomach, as this just does not happen

How is the procedure performed?

There are a variety of different approaches to a tummy tuck surgery. One such approach is a complete abdominoplasty where two large incisions are made to expose the fat underneath the skin and the muscle fascia. Any excessive fat is removed and the tissues are sutured again so that the resultant appearance is more cosmetically pleasant. Besides the complete abdominoplasty, there are other approaches as well where incision size varies. The choice to perform these different procedures depends upon the amount of fat and skin tissue that needs to be removed and also how much the muscles need to be tightened.

Procedure is performed under general anaesthesia. Prior to the procedure being performed, patients will be asked to observe dietary and lifestyle modifications first such as attempting to lose weight and stopping smoking completely. Patients who are uncertain medications may be requested to stop taking them for a short period of time before and after the procedure. This will be clearly discussed with the patient by the doctor.

The videos below demonstrate how the procedure is performed.

What happens after the procedure?

Following the procedure, the patient is observed in hospital for a few days if required. This is to ensure that these sutures are healing normally and there is no evidence of infection. Patients may need to apply ice on the area of surgery if there is pain and inflammation. Patients are also advised to wear loose clothing until the surgical site has healed completely. Attempts must be made to keep the area clean and dry.

What are the complications and side-effects?

An unavoidable side-effect which is part of any surgical procedure is mild pain and discomfort at the site of surgery following the operation. There may be mild amount of swelling as well and if this occurs, painkillers may be prescribed that will definitely help. There may be slight amount of bleeding and bruising at the site as well, though this settles down in a few days.

Their side-effects include the ones from general anaesthesia such as an allergic reaction. In the event of this occurring, there is always trained staff available to administer treatment immediately. Some patients may develop an infection at the site of surgery and if this occurs, antibiotics may need to be prescribed. Small amounts of blood clots may develop underneath the surgery site but these usually resolve themselves unless they are very large and require complaining. Blood clots may also develop in the legs called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and may require treatment.

Sometimes, the wound may not heal adequately or the results may not necessarily be satisfactory. In such situations, a calculated decision may be made to re-operate on the patient.

Finally, almost every patient who undergoes a tummy tuck procedure will have some form of scar on their abdomen. These scars are usually in a place that is covered by clothing but can make patients rather aware of them sometimes. These days, there are creams and ointments available that can help reduce the appearance of scars, making them light in colour and not as prominent.

This doctor briefly discusses the risks of tummy tuck surgery.

Tummy tuck procedures have become extremely popular primarily due to the improved cosmetic appearance in brings with it. However, it is in no way a weight loss surgery and should not be considered one as such. The procedure as a number of different benefits but also has side-effects and this needs to be calculated before the patient is offered the surgery. Outcomes are usually very good and patient satisfaction rates are high.

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