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The Tummy Tuck Process from a Plastic Surgeon
The tummy tuck is one of the specialties of a plastic surgeon. The procedure is an effective solution for patients who have lost weight through dieting, exercise, or bariatric surgery. Tummy tucks allow the surgeon to reshape and contour the abdomen with skin removal surgery.
How the tummy tuck process works
A tummy tuck eliminates excess skin and fat from the lower and middle abdomen and tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall. The procedure can improve the look of a protruding abdomen. The plastic surgery consultation for a tummy tuck involves a discussion covering the goals and concerns of the patient.
The plastic surgeon will evaluate the patient's body contour and abdomen extensively and review images. They will review the surgery options and discuss their recommendations, including the risks of the procedure. The tummy tuck is sometimes performed along with liposuction or gynecological procedures. It may not always be feasible to achieve a patient's expectations with surgery, so they need to understand what is considered a realistic outcome.
Best candidates for a tummy tuck
The ideal candidates for a tummy tuck are men and women who are healthy but are concerned by a large fat deposit or loose abdominal wall that fails to yield to diet or exercise routines. The procedure is highly beneficial for women who have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin from multiple pregnancies and those who have lost skin elasticity due to old age or drastic weight loss or gain.
Patients who plan to undertake a weight loss program should delay the surgery until they have achieved their desired weight. Also, women who wish to get pregnant in the future should wait, since the abdominal muscles that are tightened during the procedure can loosen during pregnancy.
Preparing for the surgery
Interested candidates will need to meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss a belly tuck procedure. The plastic surgeon will likely examine the patient's medical records during the initial appointment. Patients will answer questions regarding their medical history, including current medications, drug allergies, and past procedures. The surgeon may also ask about the patient's history of weight gain and reduction if weight loss is the reason for the procedure.
The doctor will examine the patient's abdomen to determine the treatment choices. The doctor may also take photos of the abdomen for record purposes.
Patients will need to tell the doctor why they want a belly tuck and what they hope it will do for their appearance. The doctor will discuss the procedure's advantages and disadvantages, including the possibility of scarring. Prior abdominal surgery may affect the outcomes.
Side effects and recovery
After discharge, patients will have drains placed for a few days after. The plastic surgeon will use implantable catheters to ensure the continued delivery of pain medication to the site of surgery, reducing the need to administer narcotic pain medication.
Patients are often released with an after-surgery pain pump. The pumps and the catheters do not need extra care. Patients will visit the hospital for follow-up appointments weekly for the first month. It may take a while to resume normal activities; most people stay out of work for two or three weeks after surgery.
Tummy tuck procedure
The plastic surgeon will perform the tummy tuck procedure under general anesthesia. The patient will usually need to remain in the hospital for a day after the surgery. During the surgery, the surgeon will cut away the excess skin and fat between the ribs and the pubis, then proceed to tighten the abdominal muscles. In some cases, they may perform a minor abdominoplasty procedure, which requires less anesthesia and has an easier and faster recovery.
How long does the result last?
As long as patients do not have another baby or gain a lot of weight, the results should last a lifetime. However, plastic surgery cannot stop the aging process. There will be some loosening of the skin with aging, but it should not be significant. In some instances, if patients gain and then lose weight, the abdominal skin may stretch out again, which might negatively affect the overall body shape. Pregnancy will also cause the abdomen to loosen. Therefore, getting a belly tuck is best left until after childbirth.
The bottom line
A tummy tuck, whether partial or complete, can produce ideal results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin. Some patients may also opt for liposuction of their hips and other regions concurrently to get an enhanced result. In most situations, the results of the tummy tuck surgery are long-lasting, as long as the patient maintains a balanced diet and exercises regularly.
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