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Abdominoplasty or “Tummy Tuck”

An abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck,” is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fat from your abdomen, and also tightens weakened or separated abdominal muscles. The goal is to restore a tighter and flatter stomach.

Abdominoplasty is ideal for patients who have lost weight or after childbirth and have loose skin on their abdomen. Being at or close to your ideal weight will give you the best result after abdominoplasty. Liposuction can be done in coordination with the procedure to improve waist contour.

For an abdominoplasty, you will be put to sleep under general anesthesia. An incision will be made low on your abdomen, between your hip bones. Excess skin and fat will be removed, and, in most cases, your belly button will be moved higher.  If your abdominal muscles are separated, as often happens after pregnancy, they will be repaired and sewed back together. Liposuction is often done on your upper abdomen and waist area, and then the incision is sutured closed with dissolvable sutures. Pain medication can be injected directly into the muscles of your abdomen to decrease pain post-operatively. Because sutures (called “progressive tension sutures”) are placed between the skin and the muscles, drains are not needed after an abdominoplasty at Duggal Plastic Surgery.

An abdominoplasty is one of the more painful plastic surgery procedures to recover from. In most cases, you can go home the same day as the surgery, but some patients may want to stay overnight. You can expect pain, bruising, and swelling for a few weeks. You will be encouraged to walk and do light activity the first week after surgery and can progress as you recover.

Since an abdominoplasty is a procedure performed on healthy patients, the risks are low overall. Infrequently there can be wound healing complications or a wound infection. The majority of these are taken care of with dressing changes and possibly antibiotics. More significant wound healing complications are uncommon. Occasionally a collection of fluid can develop which requires drainage in the office or operating room. A rare complication is the development of a blood clot. For patients who are at a higher risk of blood clots, sometimes blood thinning medication is recommended for a few days after surgery to decreases the chances of this happening.

An abdominoplasty is almost always combined with liposuction. It can also be done as part of a “mommy makeover”, which refers to any combination of procedures to restore a woman’s body after childbirth and breastfeeding. Most often abdominoplasty in this case is combined with a breast lift or a breast augmentation. It can also be combined with a labiaplasty.

For patients who have experienced a significant weight loss, abdominoplasty may be extended into a circumferential body lift to remove excess skin circumferentially around the abdomen, flanks, and back. It could also be combined with removal of excess skin elsewhere on the body.

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An abdominoplasty is a wonderful way to restore a woman’s stomach after pregnancy and childbirth. Not only can we remove the excess skin and often the majority of any stretchmarks she has, but we can also tighten her abdominal muscles and restore a flat, strong abdomen.

-Claire Duggal, MD

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