Want to tighten up sagging skin around your mid-section? Here’s what you should know about a safe and effective body contouring procedure called tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, offered by Denver cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Randolph Robinson of Robinson Cosmetic Surgery:
‘Tummy tuck’ is the layperson’s term for abdominoplasty. The term describes well the purpose of the procedure and gives a hint at its primary objective. It is, however, the best operation for flattening the abdomen, removing extra skin, contouring and reducing fat, and taking away stretch marks.
Most patients are women. They may have had children and want to repair the resulting bulge in the lower abdomen. Some patients have carried extra weight and an abdominoplasty will remove the hanging skin and adipose tissue (called a panniculus). In this case the operation is called a panniculectomy and can make a substantial difference in the way a patient feels and looks. Although most patients do not have a panniculus, the abdominoplasty will substantially flatten the tummy.
At Robinson Cosmetic Surgery, your cosmetic consultation is free of charge. It’s a great way to get the details of cost, risk, and expected outcomes. Schedule yours today:
Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Abdominoplasty?
Some patients who have a smaller protrusive abdomen may benefit significantly from just a liposuction procedure. A determining factor is whether there is a spreading of the rectus abdominus muscles. These are the vertical muscles that run from the ribs to the pubic bone. They are the ones that show when people have a ‘six pack.’ The layer of tissue between the two rectus muscles can be stretched with pregnancy. The tummy tuck allows the surgeon to tighten it back. Liposuction contouring is done at the same time, if necessary.
The tummy tuck is one of the most gratifying surgeries for the patient and the physician because its final results are so dramatic for flattening the abdomen. You are encouraged to follow a balanced diet low in simple carbohydrates. Regular exercise is suggested that is equivalent to walking two miles four days a week at an 18-minute per mile pace. It is the whole patient that is cared for not just the abdomen.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia. But sedation and spinal anesthesia is sometimes used. The operation takes two to three hours. A saline solution (tumescent solution) is infused in the fat layer. A limited liposuction is performed of the upper abdomen and the flanks. The abdominoplasty incision is made at the level of the pubic hairline similar to a C-section incision. If there is a C-section scar it is removed. The abdominoplasty incision is extended outward and upward toward the hip bones. Incision variations are based on the style of swimsuit the patient prefers.
The muscles are exposed up to the rib cage. The lower abdominal skin from the belly button to the pubic hair line is removed. The muscles are then tightened like a corset. The upper abdominal skin is pulled down and sewn to the pubic hairline. Then a new hole is made for the belly button. Drains are inserted and you then put on a compression garment.
At the end of your tummy tuck surgery, small suction tubes drain the extra fluid from the surgical site. The drains are usually left in place about one week. The fluid, of course, contains some blood at first and then clears to a pink color with time. The criterion for drain removal is when there is less than 25 milliliters (less than 2 tablespoons) in an eight hour period. The patient is required to record and monitor the drainage at home during the first week. Of course, any excessive blood drainage should prompt a call to the surgeon.
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You are required to wear an elastic compression garment for one week after surgery. The garment is like a heavy duty girdle and most patients take sponge baths during this period. The garment is also open in the crotch. The important purpose of the garment is to hold the tissues in position during the initial healing. An abdominal binder is used over the top of the garment. This helps provide a second layer of support.
The recovery is about two weeks. Be sure to make arrangements with work or other commitments. You may resume light activity at this time. Full workouts are permitted after four weeks. Most patients experience a significant amount of pain requiring strong narcotics for about three to four days. After this time, use non-narcotic medications as needed.
Patients typically have bruising and swelling for about two weeks. The bruising starts as a purple color and eventually fades to a green hue. It dissipates in a yellow color. At this point the patients experience a lumpy quality to the abdomen as the collagen starts its contraction healing process under the skin. The stitches around the navel are removed at one week and the stitches from the lower abdominal incision sutures dissolve on their own.
The possible complications of a tummy tuck include bleeding, infection, numbness, scarring, asymmetry, irregular contouring, and need for touch-up surgery. Other major complications include blood clots, anesthesia reactions, and allergic reactions. You receive a full medical examination. This is to make sure you’re fit for surgery. It is usually advisable that the patient stays overnight for monitoring and comfort.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and help you the first 48 hours.
- Stop smoking for at least two weeks prior to and two weeks after surgery because smoking constricts blood vessels. Permanent smoking cessation is best.
- Take 1,000 mg of vitamin C, in four divided doses, daily beginning the week before surgery.
- Do not take any aspirin, ibuprofen, blood-thinning medications, or vitamin E two weeks before surgery, unless otherwise directed by your surgeon.
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery (or as your anesthesiologist directs). Let Dr. Robinson know if you have any reactions to medicines.
- Call if you have any questions about the surgery.
- Lose weight, if necessary, before surgery.
- Eat a balanced diet following surgery. If you are experiencing nausea and vomiting, take only clear liquids. If nausea and vomiting persist, after taking prescribed anti-nausea medication, then call our office.
- Wear the support garment as directed, usually all the time for the first week. The second week, wear the garment at all times except when showering or cleaning the garment.
- Do not lift anything heavier than ten pounds for two weeks. Keep activity simple although walks may begin three days after surgery. Do not overdo it. Do not begin vigorous work outs until after the fourth week following surgery, and if you have any questions about an activity, ask your doctor.
- Stay bent over at the waist for two weeks in order to not overstretch the skin and muscles. Sleep in a lounge chair or on two pillows with a pillow under your knees to keep this position while sleeping.
- Take 1,000 mg of Vitamin C, in four 250 mg doses, daily for six weeks following surgery.
- Begin massaging the areas two weeks after surgery or as directed.
- Shower only. Do not sit in a bath for the first two weeks following surgery.
- Call if:
- excessive pain is unrelieved with medication
- temperature is greater than 101.0° F by mouth
- swelling is asymmetric (uneven)
- nausea and vomiting persist
- severe redness occurs
- a rapid change in the color or amount of the drainage (bright red blood)
- Take medications as directed.
Talk to a Top Tummy Tuck Specialist in Denver
Abdominoplasty is more effective and safer than ever. Especially when you choose a medical specialist with vast training and experience. Dr. Randolph Robinson is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon in Denver, Colorado, with more than 25 years of experience. Call our office to schedule a free cosmetic consultation.