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Tummy Tuck Explained: How It Works, Types, Safety, Side Effects & More

Tummy Tuck Explained

Many women who have lost a lot of weight or been pregnant have a flabby midsection with excess fat and skin that cannot be remedied with diet and exercise. Sometimes pregnancy also separates the abdominal muscles, as well.

Even people with an average body weight can have a midsection that that sags or is loose. The most frequent causes of these issues are:

  • Aging
  • Genes
  • Pregnancy
  • Other surgeries
  • Large weight fluctuations

A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty cuts away the extra skin and fat and can tighten the weakened abdominal muscles so that the belly is smooth and flat again.

This guide describes what a tummy tuck is, how it works, types, and much more.

How a Tummy Tuck Works

Depending on your goals, a tummy tuck can take approximately one to five hours. Most tummy tucks are done on an outpatient basis. Liposuction also can be done as part of the procedure.

Patients receive general anesthesia, so you need to have someone to take you home after the procedure. Below are the most common types of tummy tucks.

Complete Abdominoplasty

This tummy tuck procedure is ideal for patients who need the most correction, with loose fat and skin above and below the navel. The plastic surgeon makes the incision just above the public hair. How long the scar is depends on how much excess skin you have.

Your surgeon will cut away extra fat and skin as needed to tighten up the belly. Also, your surgeon will make an incision around the belly button, as it’s necessary to free that area from the abdominal tissue. Then, the abdominal muscles may be sewn and tighten to give the abdomen a flat appearance.

The full tummy tuck takes about two hours. You may need to have drainage tubes put in after the surgery.

Partial or Mini-Abdominoplasty

A mini-tummy tuck is done for women who only have excess skin below the navel. The belly button probably isn’t moved if you have less excess skin to remove. The skin is separated between the incision line and the belly button, and extra skin and fat are cut away. You may need to have drainage tubes inserted with this procedure, as well.

Circumferential Abdominoplasty

This type of tummy tuck also includes the back region. When you have extra skin and fat extending to the back, you may have liposuction in addition to the circumferential abdominoplasty.

This procedure also is useful for taking away skin and fat from the back and hip areas. You’ll notice a better body shape from all angles.

Tummy Tuck Recovery

After your procedure, the plastic surgeon will sew up the incisions and bandage them. You may need to wear compression garments for a few weeks after the procedure, so your skin conforms to your new shape.

You must listen to all of your surgeon’s directions on wearing compression garments and taking care of the bandages. You’ll also be told how to lie down or sit most comfortably during your recovery.

If you’re physically active, you may need to reduce your exercise regimen several weeks after the procedure. Most people need to take about a week off work.

Tummy Tuck Side Effects and Risks

You will experience some pain and swelling after your tummy tuck. Your plastic surgeon will give you prescription pain medications as needed. Also, you will be sore for a few weeks, and you too could experience bruising, numbness, and general fatigue during your recovery.

A tummy tuck is a serious procedure, and there are risks. You could have higher risks if you have diabetes, heart or lung disease, poor circulation, or a smoker. Some common complications are:

  • Scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Accumulation of fluid at the incision site
  • Problems with wound healing
  • Blood clots
  • Numbness in the surgical site
  • Infection

Rarely, serious complications can occur, such as fat necrosis, wound separation requiring revision surgery, and unevenness in the abdominal area.

Tummy Tuck Ideal Candidate

Ideal candidates for this procedure have sagging or loose skin on their abdomen and muscle separation in the abdominal wall.

A tummy tuck candidate also should be in good general health, a non-smoker, and has reasonable expectations about the surgery. Also, you should be at a healthy weight for your height.

What You Can Expect

If you think you want a tummy tuck, it’s essential to understand the entire process:

  • Consultation: Your plastic surgeon will go over your tummy tuck goals during your first meeting. He’ll want to know why you want a tummy tuck, the areas of your abdomen that most concern you, and ask about your expectations. He’ll also need to know about other operations and any medications you’re taking.
  • Procedure: Your tummy tuck procedure depends on the condition of your abdomen. Your surgeon will recommend if you should have a full, partial, or circumferential tummy tuck.
  • Aftermath: After your tummy tuck, the surgeon will bandage the area and give you compression garments to wear so your skin will shrink to fit your new contours.
  • Recovery: Most tummy tuck patients can return to work after a week or so. You may experience swelling and bruising for several weeks, and you can expect the final results to show in about three months.

Request a Tummy Tuck Consultation

Do you dream about improving your appearance with a New Jersey tummy tuck procedure? Dr. Smita R. Ramanadham can help you improve your appearance and self-self image with this popular plastic surgery procedure. In your consultation, Dr. Ramanadham will review the options with you, as well as your goals and more, to find out if you’re a good candidate for a tummy tuck.


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