Pregnancy or gaining and then losing a good deal of weight can stretch the muscles and skin in the lower abdomen to a degree that they can’t tighten back down to their former degree of tautness. Also, as our skin loses some of its elasticity as we age, a telltale pooch can form just below our navel. Once this happens, no matter how many crunches you do the skin may not trim down. A tummy tuck with Dr. Lipton can remove excess fat and skin, and tighten the underlying muscles, giving a patient a flat, tight stomach once again.
What is a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is clinically known as abdominoplasty. It is a body contouring procedure that addresses skin and muscle, rather than simply pockets of fat, as is the case with liposuction. The procedure involves either one or two incisions. A full tummy tuck has an incision below the waistline and a second incision at the belly button. A mini tummy tuck involves only the lower incision, and it often can be shorter if there isn’t much sagging skin.
Tummy tucks specifically target the lower abdomen, the “belly” area. The goal is to address the sagging skin that has created a pooch. Excess skin is trimmed. Excess fat is removed. And the underlying muscles are pulled together and stitched into place to create a firmer, narrower waist.
Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
Whether a tummy tuck would be right for you is a question of fat pockets versus sagging skin. Liposuction is an effective procedure for removing unwanted pockets of fat in the belly area. Liposuction, however, does not address sagging, stretched skin or muscle. For sagging skin and separated muscles, a tummy tuck is a better procedure. Dr. Lipton may include some liposuction during the tuck surgery to remove unwanted fat.
Two things need to be considered. First, if you’re thinking you may want to have additional children in the future, this isn’t the time for a tummy tuck. Pregnancy and the associated localized weight gain will negate the results of your tummy tuck. Second, Dr. Lipton wants his tummy tuck patients to be within 10 percent of their ideal body weight before having a tummy tuck. This is not a weight loss procedure.
The abdominoplasty procedure
Dr. Lipton performs either a full or mini tummy tuck for his patients. These procedures may include some liposuction if fat pockets are also prevalent.
- Full tummy tuck — A full tummy tuck is usually necessary if the patient has a good deal of loose skin both above and below the navel. It involves two incisions: one from hipbone to hipbone descending close to the pubic area, and another around the navel. Dr. Lipton then separates the skin from the abdominal muscles, which he pulls together and stitches into place. Next the skin is pulled downward over the tightened muscles and the excess is trimmed. The navel will usually need to be moved upward and reattached to its natural position. The incisions are then sutured.
- Mini tummy tuck — A mini tuck can be a great solution if the patient has less sagging skin, but still wants to eliminate a pooch that has developed. The mini tummy tuck eliminates the second incision at the navel area. It may or may not involve muscle repair, and the incision will likely not need to run from hipbone to hipbone.
Tummy Tuck Before and After Photo
What will my tummy tuck incisions and scars be like?
The long lower incision in a tummy tuck creates a long scar. Dr. Lipton is usually able to hide this scar below the bikini/underwear line, but there will be a scar. There is usually little or no scarring with the upper incision, as it can often be made through the navel.
Tummy tuck surgery recovery is involved, due to the size of the incisions and cutting and repairing the abdominal muscles. There will be some pain, but the amount varies by the individual. You’ll be encouraged to walk after your surgery and should take a short walk three or four times a day for just a few minutes each time. You’ll have to walk a little hunched over and the skin of your abdomen will feel tight. If you have drains, they will be removed anywhere from four days to two weeks after your surgery.
You’ll wear a compression garment to help your skin adapt to its new slimmer contour. Most patients can return to work two weeks after their surgery, but this is an individual thing — it may take longer. Any strenuous exercise or lifting will have to wait for at least six weeks. As you would assume, patients need to be careful for the first couple weeks not to strain their lower abdomen area.
How Soon Can I exercise?
Exercise is a great way to speed recovery because it promotes blood flow, which aids the healing process and reduces swelling. Your first return to exercise will be normal walking on a level surface and this usually is possible after two weeks of recovery. Low-impact aerobic exercise can begin around four to six weeks, but if extensive muscle adjustments were made this could be delayed. The worst thing you can do is “test” or push your sutures or your incision; overdoing exercise could loosen your repair. After about two months you can return to most forms of exercise, although specific abdomen-focused exercises such as crunches should be approached carefully. Of course, over the long haul, abdominal exercises will help to keep your stomach flat and trim.
Tummy Tuck Risks and Side Effects
The possible risks with tummy tuck surgery are the same as any other major surgery: infection, anesthesia reaction, blood clots, and poor healing.
Specific to this surgery, patients may opt to have scar revision surgery later if they don’t like the way their scar has turned out.
Is there a lot of pain after this surgery?
Because the incisions are lengthy and the abdomen is an area that is involved in many body movements, there will be some pain. How well this is tolerated is dependent on the individual patient. During your recovery, taking things slowly and precisely following Dr. Lipton’s instructions will help to minimize your pain.
Will a tummy tuck get rid of my stretch marks?
A tummy tuck can remove stretch marks if they occur in the skin that is trimmed. If they stretch beyond that area, your stretch marks will still be there after surgery, although they often become far less noticeable.
How long will my results last?
Tummy tucks create permanent changes — skin is trimmed, fat removed, and muscles repositioned. Without another pregnancy or excessive weight gain, your results should endure, especially if you adopt an exercise regimen.
Can I combine a tummy tuck with another procedure?
Liposuction is often combined with this surgery. Most people don’t have sagging skin without some unwanted fat pockets, and that’s where liposuction can come in. Plus, patients frequently request to add liposuction of the flanks or hips on the back during their tummy tuck procedure. This improves the circumference of the waist. Plus, healing is simple, as the liposuction areas are contained in the same compression garments worn for your tuck recovery.