The abdomen is one of the toughest parts of the body to lose fat. And so many people turn to the surgical procedure known as abdominoplasty as a solution.
What is abdominoplasty?
Abdominoplasty is what most people know as a “tummy tuck”. The surgeon removes any excess fat and skin from the middle and lower abdomen. This tightens the abdominal wall muscles and pulls in the abdomen. It can have an amazing affect on a protruding abdomen, making you look better and feel better.
An abdominoplasty will leave a permanent scar though, which is something you have to keep in mind when considering whether to undergo the procedure or not.
If you’re considering abdominoplasty surgery, you should make sure you have a consultation with a qualified surgeon. They’ll be able to tell you if you’re a suitable candidate for the procedure or not.
Here are the key details about the abdominoplasty procedure:
Complete abdominoplasty procedure
- A complete abdominoplasty takes between 2 – 5 hours. The actual time depends on the amount of work needed.
- The surgeon makes a long incision from one hipbone to the other above the pubic area. They also make a second incision to free the navel (belly button) from the tissue around it.
- The surgeon will then pulls the skin away from the wall of the abdomen. This reveals the vertical muscles they will be tightening. Tightening these muscles gives a firmer abdominal wall and helps to narrow your waistline.
- The surgeon then stretches out the skin flap and removes all the extra skin. A new hole is usually cut for your navel and then stitched into place.
- The surgeon will then stitch up the incisions. The wounds are dressed, and any excess fluids drained from the surgical site.
Partial or mini abdominoplasty procedure
- A partial or mini abdominoplasty may take as little as an hour or two. During this procedure, the surgeon will make a much shorter incision. Removal of the navel is usually not needed during a partial abdominoplasty.
- The surgeon will only separate the skin between the incision and your navel. They’ll then stretch out this skin flap and remove any excess skin.
- Finally, the flap is then stitched back.
Good candidates for abdominoplasty
The best way to find out if you’re a good candidate for abdominoplasty surgery is to consult a certified plastic surgeon. But here are a few pointers as to what generally makes a good candidate:
- You’re in relatively good shape, phsyically.
- You don’t smoke.
- You have a large fat deposit that diet or exercise won’t shift and it’s bothering you.
- Similarly, you’ve got loose abdominal skin that doesn’t respond well to any other attempts to remove it.
- You’ve gone through one or more pregnancies. Many women have experienced how hard it is to lose the weight after having a baby, and have also had to deal with the loss of muscle tone. After pregnancy, a woman’s skin can become stretched and loose and it can be almost impossible to get back into shape.
- Weight gain and a significant weight loss are other reasons why the abdomen can become rounded too, making you a candidate for abdominoplasty.
Not good candidates for abdominoplasty
You’re probably not a good candidate for a tummy tuck if you fall under one of the following categories:
- You plan to lose a lot of weight in the future. If so, you should achieve your desired weight before thinking about a tummy tuck.
- You plan to have further pregnancies in the future.
- If you’ve had any other types of abdominal surgeries in the past you may end up with prominent scarring. Scarring usually extends from hip to hip.
Just to reiterate, you should see a qualified specialist before making any decisions on this or any other type of surgery.
Abdominoplasty complications and risks
Post-operative abdominoplasty complications aren’t common, but may include infection, bleeding or blood clots. It’s important that the patient starts moving around as soon as possible after surgery as this movement helps to speed up recovery.
Smoking is not recommended for people who are thinking of having this type of surgery because it can increase the risk of complications and delay the healing process.
Abdominoplasty recovery time
Abdominoplasty recovery time is basically broken down into four stages:
- The immediate post-operative recovery time which lasts for about 10 -14 days. Bruising and discomfort is common during this period.
- After the initial recovery stage up to about 6 weeks after the procedure. You can start driving again during this stage and in the latter stages start to exercise. A supportive abdominal binder is usually worn for about four to six weeks following surgery to allow the skin to heal properly.
- Between the second stage and about 6 months, your tummy will start to regain feeling and return to normal. At the end of the 6 months, you should be pretty much back to your normal routine and feeling fine.
- After somewhere between 12 months to 2 years, your tummy should be completely healed and the scars should have faded.
It’s important to note these are just guidelines. Every individual is different, and so their abdominoplasty recovery time will also be different.
A patient is usually advised to take two to four weeks off of work as part of the healing process.
Sutures from the incision are dissolvable and do not need to be removed.
How much does abdominoplasty cost?
So just how much does abdominoplasty cost? That’s a very important consideration if you’re considering the procedure.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average abdominoplasty cost is about $5,500. Depending on your circumstances and your location, the cost could range from anywhere between $3,000 to about $12,000 though.
Before deciding to have an abdominoplasty operation, you should explore your other options first as there are other types of surgeries available. For example, for most patients liposuction is an alternative that can also have great results. Laser stretch mark removal can also be effective in some cases.
And of course, dieting and exercise are always an option to try and remove any excess fat from the tummy and tighten the muscles. But they won’t tighten any loose skin, unfortunately.