Abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure that removes excess fat and skin around your belly. Find answers to questions about the procedure, costs, and recovery.
Abdominoplasty is the technical, medical term for what is commonly referred to as a "tummy tuck." A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that permanently removes excess skin and fat around your abdominal area to give you a sleeker, slimmer figure.
Typically, this procedure is sought by women who have been pregnant, but anyone who has accumulated excess abdominal fat due to age, obesity or other factors may be a good candidate for this surgery. A tummy tuck can only be performed on candidates who are in good health with no active diseases or serious pre-existing medical conditions. In addition, it is important to go into this procedure with realistic expectations and a sound, stable mind.
Below you will find a basic overview of how the procedure works as well as answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding abdominoplasty.
Abdominoplasty works by removing excess skin and fat on your stomach in order to flatten it out. In addition, tummy tucks also tighten the ab muscles that may have become separated due to excess weight or pregnancy. This can be done for both men and women, but it is more frequently performed on women.
A full tummy tuck involves superficial removal of skin and fat as well as a deeper muscle repair. This gives the best, most dramatic results. The surgery focuses on the area surrounding your belly button down to your pubic region as this is typically the area that is the most affected.
Once the excess fat and skin have been removed, the remaining skin is stretched to cover your stomach, and your belly button will be repositioned as needed. The end result is a noticeably flatter, tighter stomach.
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There are three main types of tummy tucks:
A mini tummy tuck is still a surgical procedure, but it is not as extensive as the other two types. This style of abdominoplasty uses a smaller, shorter incision that mainly addresses the area below the belly button, often called "the pooch." This is generally chosen by people who have only a small amount of stubborn excess fat or skin they want to get rid of.
A full tummy tuck addresses the entire abdominal region, both above and below the belly button. This is the procedure that was briefly outlined above that involves removing excess fat and skin across the entire abdomen while also repairing any ab muscle separation.
This is an expanded version of a full tummy tuck, and it is most often used on patients who have undergone extreme weight loss. In addition to removing the excess skin and fat in the abdomen, it also removes excess skin from the sides and repairs muscles around the love handle and hip region.
On the day of your surgery, be sure to dress appropriately in comfortable, loose clothing. Your doctor can give you recommendations regarding what will be most comfortable.
The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia and takes 1-5 hours. The surgeon will aim to make an incision just above your pubic bone in order to hide the resulting scar. Once the incision is made, skin and fat are separated from your abdominal muscles. A separate incision will be made around the belly button to detach the surrounding skin, and the removal of fat and skin can then be completed.
In a full tummy tuck, the abdominal muscles are folded and tightened along the center of the abdomen to produce a firm, flat stomach. Once this has been completed, the surgeon will pull the remaining skin down and close the incisions.
For most abdominoplasties, drains will be placed under the skin directly above your pubic bone to allow fluid to drain from the surgical site during recovery. Not every surgeon does this, however, so be sure to ask about drainage methods during your initial consult.
After the surgery, you will be moved to a comfortable recovery area for observation. Typically, observation only lasts for a few hours, but in some cases, patients may stay overnight. This is up to the discretion of your care team.
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For more information, you can check out our list of accredited and internationally renowned clinics that perform the procedure.
There are several factors that can affect the cost of an abdominoplasty surgery, including:
It is recommended to get a cost estimate from each potential surgeon prior to scheduling the procedure.
Generally speaking, insurance companies consider abdominoplasty to be an elective, cosmetic procedure. This means that health insurance plans often do not cover any of the costs of the surgery. However, it may be worth getting in touch with your insurance provider or checking if any practice will offer financing options.
As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications that can happen. During your consultation, your doctor will cover any applicable risks with you in detail. However, general risks may include:
There is no set schedule for recovery because everyone is different. The more extensive your procedure was, however, the longer your recovery period will be.
Some patients are able to return to work after only two or three weeks of recovery time, but others require upwards of six weeks before they can begin to resume normal activities. Your doctor will be able to more accurately outline a recovery plan for you.
Major swelling will generally subside around four to six weeks, but it may take a few more months before all swelling is resolved. It is essential that you regularly get up and move gently within the first few days of surgery to help improve circulation and diminish the risk of blood clots.
In addition, most doctors recommend that you do not smoke for at least a month after surgery and that you avoid any movements that may lift or twist your stomach.
The information in this guide is for educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any treatments.
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