A lot of us would like a flatter midsection, but for many people, it is almost impossible to achieve that goal with diet and exercise alone. However, an experienced Boston cosmetic surgeon may be able to help you reach your goal with a tummy tuck procedure.
Despite the cute phrase, consumers should understand that a “tummy tuck” – the precise term is “abdominoplasty” – can be a major surgical procedure. You will be making both a significant investment and a substantial personal commitment to feeling better and more self-confident.
HOW IS A TUMMY TUCK PROCEDURE CONDUCTED?
A cosmetic surgeon begins a tummy tuck procedure by making incisions in the abdomen and by loosening the skin at the patient’s midsection. The surgeon then applies sutures to the fascia of the ab muscles, tightening them and making the patient’s stomach look flatter.
The surgeon will then remove any excess fat, stretch the skin over the incision marks, remove any excess skin, and close the incisions by using stitches.
If your cosmetic surgeon agrees that a tummy tuck is the right cosmetic surgical procedure for you, you will need to learn what is going to be required of you after your surgery to maintain the lasting results you want.
IS A TUMMY TUCK RIGHT FOR YOU?
A tummy tuck may be appropriate for both men and women who are in good overall general health.
Do not confuse abdominoplasty with liposuction – surgery that removes fat deposits – although you and your cosmetic surgeon may choose to include liposuction along with your tummy tuck procedure.
Mothers with muscles and skin stretched by multiple pregnancies – or with the scar tissue that a C-section creates – may use the procedure to tighten those muscles, reduce excess skin, and/or hide scar tissue.
A tummy tuck is also an option for anyone who was previously obese and still has loose skin or excessive fat deposits in the abdominal area.
WHAT HAPPENS IMMEDIATELY AFTER SURGERY?
Be patient, and be easy on yourself. Recovery from a tummy tuck surgery will take time. For many patients, the initial postoperative recovery will take about a week. A complete recovery will take about six weeks, but you’ll probably be able to return to work about 7 to 10 days after surgery and to the gym in two to three weeks.
After your tummy tuck procedure, you will be given postoperative instructions and general advice on your recovery. You’ll be told how often to change the dressings, whether to shower or take a sponge bath, and what the limits are on your activities and movement.
You will probably be told not to sit in a bath or a hot tub. Sitting in standing water before your incisions heal potentially can lead to an infection.
Your instructions should include signs to watch out for – like a rising temperature, or bleeding from the incision – and contact information for your cosmetic surgeon.
Your surgeon will ask you to wear a support garment to compress your abdomen and help with healing and controlling your swelling. And you must follow your surgeon’s recommendations regarding your painkillers and antibiotics.
WHAT ABOUT POST-SURGICAL SCARS?
Unfortunately, tummy tucks are not scar-free. Your scars will go through a series of changes before they are fully mature, and that can take months.
You may want to ask your surgeon about scar minimizing products such as silicone sheeting.
WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM CONCERNS AFTER A TUMMY TUCK?
After a tummy tuck, most patients will need to watch their weight, exercise and stop smoking, Here’s why:
1. Weight: When you put on weight, the skin stretches. Even if you lose the fat underneath, the excess skin can remain. It’s why so many patients decide on a tummy tuck procedure, so after the procedure, you must strive pro-actively to avoid any significant weight gain.
2. Smoking: If you smoke, stopping is the best way to maintain the results of any cosmetic procedure. Smoking restricts your blood’s circulation, impairing your ability to heal and to keep your skin and organs healthy.
After a tummy tuck, you will need a diet that consists predominantly of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. You’ll have to pass on foods that are high in sodium, sugar, or saturated fat.
You should drink plenty of water. For most people, eight glasses a day is about right. You’ll also need to find a recreation or a sport that you enjoy, and stay active. It’s good for your lungs, heart, muscles, skin, and circulation – as well as your attitude and emotions.
If you smoke, quit, or get the help you need to quit. And if you are still considering the possibility of having one or more children, you may want to postpone a tummy tuck until you are certain that you are finished with childbearing.
The results of a tummy tuck are usually permanent, provided that you do not smoke or gain significant weight
WHERE DO YOU BEGIN?
Every successful cosmetic surgery begins with an initial consultation with your cosmetic surgeon. Patients who ask the most questions are usually the patients who are the most satisfied with the decisions they have made.
Ask your cosmetic surgeon about anything that may concern you. You cannot ask a question that’s “wrong.” Make certain that you obtain the answers to these four key questions during your first meeting with your cosmetic surgeon:
1. Are you board certified?
2. How many tummy tucks have you performed?
3. What anesthesia will be required, and who provides it?
4. What is it all going to cost?
In the New England region, anyone with stretch marks, a flabby abdomen, or loose skin in the tummy area should consider a tummy tuck and should learn more about the procedure by consulting – sooner rather than later – with an experienced Boston cosmetic surgeon.