Technically known as abdominoplasty, the tummy tuck is a plastic surgery procedure which removes excess fat and skin and tightens weakened abdominal muscles in order to flatten and shape a protruding abdomen and waist. Candidates for the tummy tuck include individuals who are in good general health, have realistic expectations and are looking to improve pockets of fat or loose skin of the abdomen that have not responded to diet or exercise.
The tummy tuck can be particularly beneficial for women with stretched skin and muscles resulting from pregnancy and for individuals who have lost significant weight. Those who are planning future pregnancy or weight loss may be encouraged to postpone surgery. Patients with just localized areas of fat and no excess skin may benefit from liposuction alone. There is also a mini tummy tuck procedure involving decreased scarring and shorter surgery and recovery times which may be performed on patients whose problem area is limited to the lower abdomen.
Dr. Steinbrech perform the tummy tuck on an outpatient basis at their JCAHO accredited office-based surgery facility at Gotham Plastic Surgery of New York City. Surgical times will vary, though a full tummy tuck typically takes between two and five hours to complete while a mini or partial tummy tuck can take as little as two hours. Either local anesthesia or general anesthesia may be used. The incision for a full tummy tuck is located in the pubic area between the hipbones. Through this incision, the abdominal muscles are tightened and excess skin and fat are removed. A second incision is often made around the navel, allowing the navel to be moved to a new position. For a mini tummy tuck, the incision is much shorter and the second incision is typically not required.
Bandages are often applied after surgery. Drains may be inserted at the incision sites to collect excess fluid and these are generally removed within four to seven days. Some swelling, bruising and discomfort are normal after surgery. Pain medication will help to control discomfort. Stitches are usually removed within seven to ten days. Patients will need to wear a supportive garment for up to six weeks after surgery. Work can often be resumed within two to four weeks, though strenuous activity and heavy lifting will need to be avoided for at least six to eight weeks.