A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is an operation performed to flatten the abdomen by removing excess skin and fat and repairing separated muscles. When performed correctly, an abdominoplasty can be one of the most powerful form-enhancing procedures available in plastic surgery. Common after pregnancies or major weight changes, excess skin and fat across the abdomen is often resistant to diet and exercise, and stretched or separated abdominal muscles generate visibly poor muscle tone in this area. Stretch marks are also a common problem in this area and a tummy tuck often eliminates them.
During your consultation, our doctors will review with you the various options available for abdominal rejuvenation. In general, more extensive abdominal wall laxity, particularly in the upper abdomen, requires a full abdominoplasty. This traditional procedure usually requires an incision around the belly button and another incision across the lower abdomen, often extending hip to hip. To blend the contours, liposuction is usually recommended to the waist and abdomen during this surgery. After excess soft tissue is removed, the muscles are tightened or repaired, and the skin is redraped and closed in a skillful manner. For patients with less laxity that is confined to the lower abdomen, a limited abdominoplasty, also called a mini tummy tuck, can often meet their goals with a shorter incision. This technique targets only the tissues below the belly button, often still requires liposuction, but avoids a scar around the navel. Recovery from a limited abdominoplasty is usually easier because less muscle repair is involved.
To determine if you are a good candidate for a tummy tuck procedure, our doctors will review your health history and perform an examination during your consultation. They will pay close attention to skin tone, existing scars, possible hernias, fat deposits, and muscle abnormalities, as all are important factors that can influence the surgical result. We will also take preoperative photos during your visit. During the consultation, our doctors will understand your goals and desires and they will review available options and techniques. Tummy tuck surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. We usually recommend disposable pain pump catheters during recovery to ease muscle pain but we do not always use drains. We instruct most abdominoplasty patients to wear a compression garment, especially if liposuction was performed. Light exercise is encouraged soon after surgery but strenuous activity is limited for at least several weeks. Patients may drive and return to work once they discontinue narcotic pain medicine.
For more information about tummy tuck surgery or to schedule a consultation at our Chicago plastic surgery practice, please contact us via email or call (312) 361-8108 today.