Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty
Your Personal Consultation
During the consultation, you will be asked about the results you would like to achieve from abdominoplasty. This will help your surgeon to understand your expectations and determine whether they realistically can be achieved.
Am I a good candidate for abdominoplasty?
You may be a good candidate for abdominoplasty if you have one or more of the following conditions:
If you plan to become pregnant or lose weight in the future, you should discuss this with your plastic surgeon. Scarring from previous abdominal surgery may limit the results of your abdominoplasty.
How will my plastic surgeon evaluate me for abdominoplasty?
Your plastic surgeon may examine your abdomen while you are standing as well as lying down. Your skin tone and the degree of loose skin in the abdominal region will be assessed. Your surgeon also will evaluate the amount of excess fat in your abdomen and the condition of your abdominal muscles.
You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your medical history. This will include information about any medical conditions, drug allergies, medical treatments you have received, pregnancies, previous surgeries and medications that you currently take. It is important for you to provide complete information.
Will my insurance help cover the cost of surgery?
Abdominoplasty, as an aesthetic (cosmetic) procedure, generally is not covered by insurance. In some instances, however, a patient may have a hernia and not just a spreading of the abdominal muscles. Insurance reimbursement may be available for that portion of the procedure that is not cosmetic.
Many factors determine your eligibility for coverage, including the specific terms of your insurance policy. A letter of predetermination may be required by your insurance company prior to surgery. Your plastic surgeon or a staff member in your surgeon's office will discuss these matters with you.
How Abdominoplasty Is Performed
Individual factors and personal preferences will determine the specific technique selected to smooth and flatten your abdomen.
Where are the incisions placed?
Generally, a horizontal incision is placed just within or above the pubic area. The length of the incision, which extends laterally toward the pelvic bones, depends largely on the amount of skin to be removed. The contour of this incision will vary somewhat according to the structure of your abdomen and the style of bathing suit or undergarments that you prefer. Your plastic surgeon will try to keep the incision within your bathing suit lines, but this may not always be possible.
Generally, a horizontal incision is placed just within or above the pubic area. If there is loose skin above the navel, the surgeon may make a second incision around the navel. Skin in the shaded area is separated from the abdominal wall.
Some patients have loose skin above the navel. In such cases, the surgeon may make a second incision around the navel so that the redundant skin above it can be pulled down. The excess abdominal skin is then removed. The position of the navel remains unchanged.
To tighten the abdominal wall, the surgeon brings loose underlying tissue and muscle together with sutures.
Skin of the lower abdomen that contains stretch marks may be removed as well. Any remaining stretch marks may be somewhat flattened and improved, but you should not expect a dramatic change in their appearance.
Abdominal skin is pulled downward, and the excess is removed. A small opening is made to bring the navel through.
The procedure may include tightening of the underlying abdominal muscles using sutures.
What are some variations to the common abdominoplasty technique?
There are many variations both to the design of the incisions and the technique itself. In some instances, it may be possible to avoid an incision around the navel. When the amount of loose skin is minimal and the excess fat deposits are located below the navel, a short horizontal incision is all that is necessary. This procedure is called a partial, or "mini," abdominoplasty.
Sometimes liposuction may be used alone, or in conjunction with abdominoplasty, to remove abdominal fat. Endoscopic abdominoplasty is another technique for minimizing scars and may be useful when patients have only a mild degree of excess fat and muscle laxity.
Your plastic surgeon will discuss with you the particular method that he or she recommends for achieving the best result in your particular case.
Fortunately, significant complications from abdominoplasty are infrequent. Every year, many thousands of people undergo successful aesthetic surgery of the abdomen, experience no major problems and are pleased with the results. Anyone considering surgery, however, should be aware of both the benefits and risks.
I understand that every surgical procedure has risks, but how will I learn more so that I can make an informed decision?
The subject of risks and potential complications of surgery is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon, or with a staff member in your surgeon's office.
Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia. Tissue loss along portions of the horizontal incision is a possibility when the abdominoplasty is very extensive. This complication, which delays healing and prolongs recovery, is more common in patients who smoke or have medical conditions such as diabetes. Revisionary surgery is sometimes helpful in certain instances where incisions may have healed poorly.
Following surgery, occasionally, fluid may accumulate under the skin. Removal of this serum is a painless process but may require several visits to the plastic surgeon's office.
You can help to lessen certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your plastic surgeon, both before and after surgery.