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Five things to consider before getting a tummy tuck


No area of the body is more frustrating than the stomach. As we go through normal physical changes, such as childbirth, weight fluctuations and the aging process, excess skin and fat find a way to accumulate around our middle. Unfortunately, as many people find out, exercise and diet can prove to be unsuccessful at reclaiming the curvaceous waist of our youth. The abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is an extremely successful surgical procedure, designed to sculpt the waistline and smooth the stomach. The surgical technique can also repair damaged and weakened abdominal muscles, further tightening the stomach and ensuring long-term results.

As with any surgical procedure, it is important that a prospective patient do their homework to fully understand both the potential positives and risks of the procedure. Even though the tummy tuck surgery can prove to be beneficial for many men and women, there are stringent recovery requirements and potential complications that must first be considered. For these reasons, the abdominoplasty may not be right for everyone. Before committing to the abdominoplasty procedure, consider the following five tummy tuck facts:

A tummy tuck requires significant downtime

A tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure that will require weeks to heal. The technique includes an incision, running from hip to hip. Patients should expect their recovery to take two to three weeks. At the beginning, you will be fatigued, swollen and sore. It is normal to have moderate pain during these first several days, although this will steadily improve. It is vital to allow yourself time to focus on rest and healing. More than simply taking time off from work, abdominoplasty patients will need assistance with household chores and children. Strenuous physical activities will also need to be postponed for at least four to six weeks.

Expect to be at a stable weight before your tummy tuck

An abdominoplasty is a wonderful way to sculpt the figure and shape the body. However, the surgical procedure is not a replacement for weight loss. It is important that you be close to your desired weight for six to twelve months before undergoing a tummy tuck. Most surgeons will recommend patients be between 10-15 pounds from their goal weight. This is important as gaining or losing additional weight can undo the contoured shape achieved through your surgery. Weight fluctuations can stretch the abdominal tissues and can require a revision procedure to restore the benefits of the initial procedure.

A tummy tuck will leave a permanent scar

Although the tummy tuck is one of the most valued and effective cosmetic surgery procedures performed today, the incision will leave a scar along the abdomen. This will run along the horizontal incision line, stretching from hip to hip, right above the pubic bone. While the scar will fade a bit over time, it will remain visible for years to come. An experienced plastic surgeon will carefully place the incision, ensuring the scar is well-concealed under clothing, underwear and swimsuit bottoms.

Surgical drains will be in place for the first week or two

After surgery, drains are put in place to eliminate a buildup of blood or fluids, keeping swelling down and ensuring proper healing. In many cases, surgical drains are placed following an abdominoplasty. Although temporary, these will require attention and care. Prior to surgery, your surgeon will discuss the need for drains and how to care for them, including any limitations on bathing. In most cases, the drains are painlessly removed in seven to ten days, however, they may need to stay in place for two weeks or longer.

Full healing can take up to a year

The benefits from your tummy tuck will not be immediately noticeable. In fact, over the first several weeks, redness, bruising, stiffness and swelling are common. This will slowly resolve over the next four to six weeks and the results will start to show. However, residual swelling can linger for six months or longer. A temporary numbness or a loss of sensation along the incision line is normal, but will slowly resolve. While you should be feeling close to your old self after a few months, it can take a full year before the stomach has finished healing and the complete results of surgery can be seen.

Whether you are thinking about a full abdominoplasty or a mini-tummy tuck, take your time and only put your trust in a board-certified plastic surgeon. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) offers a variety of tools to get you started towards your abdominoplasty, from informative animations to before and after photographs. Do your homework, then schedule a consultation appointment with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. With proper research and an experienced aesthetic provider, you can achieve the flat, taut abdomen you have been longing for.

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