Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) FAQs

General FAQs
  • Q1 :

    Am I a candidate for Abdominoplasty?

  • An individual must be in good health, not have any active diseases or serious, pre-existing medical conditions and must have realistic expectations of the outcome of their surgery. 

    This is an operation which requires patience and stability in dealing with the healing period.  There is sometimes a lull or depression after surgery and if there is already a pre-existing emotional problem, this low period can develop into a more serious issue.  Please consider this before committing to a procedure. If the above describes you and you have the desire to rid yourself of loose sagging skin of the abdominal area, you may be a good candidate for Abdominoplasty.  

    Normally women seek this procedure after pregnancy - although it is advised to wait until you are finished having children to have this procedure as the skin and muscles can get stretched out again as well as the dangers of your newly taut skin being unable to accommodate another pregnancy.

    Also, if you are considering losing weight you should wait until after your desired weight is met.
  • Q2 :

    How is Abdominoplasty performed?

  • Abdominoplasty is performed most commonly under General Anesthesia or Light Sleep IV Sedation.  Local anesthesia is then used to numb the abdomen.

    The Procedure is typically performing thus:

    • The operation is performed by making an incision in the lower abdomen just above the pubis.  The incision can go from hip to hip. It is placed within the bikini line, to be well hidden.
    • The skin and fat are removed from the abdominal muscles to the bottom of the rib cage.
    • The belly button is separated from the skin and most frequently all the skin and fat below the belly button is removed.  Sometimes, sutures are placed on the muscles of the abdominal wall to tighten one side of the abdomen to the other and thereby flatten the abdomen considerably.
    • The skin above the belly button is drawn down to the pubis and sutured into position.  A new hole is placed in the skin and the belly button is positioned in about the same spot that it existed before surgery.
    • The new tummy is then sutured into position. One or two drains are placed under the skin and rest on the abdominal muscle, with exits below the pubis incision.
  • Q3 :

    How long does an Abdominoplasty last?

  • This procedure can last for many, many years. If there are no large weight gains, and no pregnancies after the tummy tuck then the changes can be relatively permanent.

    Relaxation of the tissues can reoccur but not to the extent prior to surgery

  • Q4 :

    Is there a lot of swelling involved with a Abdominoplasty?

  • There is some swelling involved with an Abdominoplasty. With this type of surgery, and depending upon the case, a lot of tissue can be removed.
  • Q5 :

    Is there much pain associated with Abdominoplasty?

  • The amount of pain associated with this procedure is quite variable.  Some patients note a moderate amount of discomfort, but for some it is more intense.

    Patients will often note some back discomfort due to the 45 degree positioning for 4 to 5 days after surgery.

    Valium is sometimes given to alleviate muscle spasms of the back and for relaxation.

  • Q6 :

    What are the different techniques for Abdominoplasty?

  • The different techniques pertaining to Abdominoplasty consist of the different incision shapes and placement.  Although most surgeons attempt to place the incisions in the most inconspicuous area, this should be discussed with the Surgeon beforehand. An incision following the bikini line is the optimum for concealment purposes although your body's needs will determine the incision placement.
  • Q7 :

    What are the risks of Abdominoplasty?

  • As with any surgery under anesthesia, primary risks are associated with the anesthetic.

    There are more risks with Abdominoplasty due to the fat and its surrounding tissues becoming necrotic (dead tissue).  If the fat becomes necrotic from lack of blood supply, the fat tends to turn orange-ish clear and a little may drain from the incision.  Although this is very normal to have fluid this color drain from the incision.  There will be fat damage, there will be fluid retention, and there will be blood-tinted drainage.

    If the tissue becomes necrotic, or you have a massive die off of fat cells you must have the tissue removed before a major infection develops. This is extremely rare and taking precautions can certainly make a difference:

    • Do not smoking
    • Take approriate wound care

    Sometimes Liposuction is part of the Abdominoplasty procedure.  Even with the ultrasonic technique, patients have been known to receive actual burns from the ultrasonic technique.  The fat is actually melted within the body by 'exciting' the fat molecules with high frequency radio waves and is suctioned out.  There may be asymmetry, hyperpigmentation (permanent dark spots) from the bruising.  Major blood loss is a factor is some cases.

    Another risk is Pulmonary Thromboemboli - a blood clot that breaks free and travel to the lungs. This can put a patient into adult breathing distress and subsequently into cardiac arrest or coma. Pulmonary Thromboemboli can occur within three weeks of the surgery but will most likely show symptoms of shortness of breath and fatigue within the first 72 hours. Pulmonary Thromboemboli can occur suddenly, without warning.

  • Q8 :

    What does a typical Abdominoplasty consultation entail?

  • The surgeon will measure your abdomen and general torso region for an idea of an ideal abdomen size for you.  Realistic goals will be decided between Patient and Surgeon. It must be remembered that no amount of surgery can restore skin to former conditions.
  • Q9 :

    What is Abdominoplasty?

  • Abdominoplasty, also known as a Tummy Tuck, is the surgery of the abdomen to remove the excess skin and fat that may accumulate after pregnancy, obesity or age.
  • Q10 :

    What should I expect post-operatively?

  • Patients are usually able to walk immediately after surgery and is in fact encouraged to do so 3 or 4 times per day for 1 to 2 minutes each time.  Usuall y however, they cannot stand up straight, and walk with a hunched posture. The skin of the abdomen will be quite tight and patients are usually instructed to remain bent over at least 45 degrees for the first 4 to 5 days after surgery.

    Patients will often note some back discomfort due to the 45 degree positioning for 4 to 5 days after surgery - Surgeon sometimes give muscle relaxants or valium.

    The drains are removed 4 to 14 days after surgery.  At the end of 4 days the patient may begin to straighten up and by six days post-op may or may not be fully straight.

    You should not exert themselves for at least two weeks after surgery.  While the drains are in, bed rest with a very small amount of walking as outlined above is recommended.

    If drains are requored for an extended amount of time, patients are notexpected to sit in bed all day.  An abdominal pressure garment may be given at a post-operative appointment. These are used for 3 o 6 weeks.

    Some swelling and discoloration are normal but are generally minimal and  dependent upon the individual.

  • Q11 :

    When is Abdominoplasty usually performed?

  •     The Abdominoplasty procedure is usually performed when a person is discontent with their appearance in the abdomen region. It is most often sought out after a woman has given birth and does not plan on having any more children. After the extra skin and muscle tissue is removed, the abdomen may not be able to accommodate another child.
  • Q12 :

    When will I be able to see the results?

  • After the swelling subsides and the drains are taken out you will start to see a difference.  However, underlying tissues have been cut and that an Abdominoplasty is a very invasive procedure. The body needs time to heal. 

    You will in time reap the benefits of this procedure.

  • Q13 :

    When will the sutures be taken out and does this hurt?

  • The drain tube, if used, will be removed in approximately 2 to 3 days. Although your bandages may not be removed until about day 5. Your face will swell, and it appears at it's worse at day three. Your stitches may be removed the same day as your bandages; if surgical staples were used within the scalp area, they may be removed in 7 to 10 days.
  • Q14 :

    Where are the scars located involving an Abdominoplasty?

  • This is not a scar-free surgery; and depend upon:

    • the amount of skin needed to be removed,
    • your body's ability to heal,
    • if you scar well,
    • the skill of the surgeon and the technique utilized.

    Indeed, in some cases, scarring can be severe. Most surgeons choose to offer their patients lesser scarring techniques that leave a well-hidden horizontal or slightly bowed scar which can be covered by a standard bikini.