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Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

What Is Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Sometimes referred to as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that can significantly lessen the appearance of a protruding abdomen— whether from loose skin and/or excess fat, over-relaxation of the abdominal muscles (perhaps due to pregnancy), or both. Tummy tuck surgery is designed to remove excess fat and skin, improving a patient’s contour and potentially giving greater definition to their abs. The best candidates for abdominoplasty typically have excess, loose skin in the abdominal area that does not respond to diet and exercise. The procedure is also ideal for women who are experiencing abdominal muscle laxity as a result of one or more pregnancies, as well as those who have lost a significant amount of weight and been left with excess, loose skin. Patients who struggle with excess fat but do not have a significant amount of excess skin in the abdominal region may benefit more from liposuction. The patient who may have excess skin with some excess fat may benefit from a “lipoabdominoplasty,” sometimes referred to as a “combituck,” which is a modified tummy tuck that includes liposuction of the abdomen at the same time.

Tummy Tuck Vs. Liposuction

A tummy tuck and liposuction are both body contouring procedures that can produce a slimmer and smoother look in the abdomen; however, while liposuction is designed to simply remove excess fat, tummy tuck surgery is performed to tighten loose skin as well as stretched abdominal musculature. The nature of your concerns can indicate which treatment is able to achieve your aesthetic goals most effectively.  

If you are primarily bothered by stubborn fat around the torso and excess skin is not necessarily an issue, liposuction is considered a steadfast procedure to achieve excellent results. A more defined abdominal contour can be noticed immediately after liposuction and the recovery period is typically not as extensive as other surgical procedures. In contrast, for men and women who have a bulging or protruding abdomen, a tummy tuck may be the best solution to tighten redundant skin and repair abdominal muscles that have been stretched by pregnancy or weight gain and subsequent weight loss. Abdominoplasty can provide a significant improvement in the appearance of your abdomen, but fat removal is typically not a main component of surgery. Therefore, a combination liposuction and tummy tuck procedure, or a “combituck,” can be ideal for patients who would like to correct muscle and skin laxity in conjunction with excess fat. To determine which procedure can best achieve your aesthetic goals, Dr. Ram Kalus or Dr. Craig Rowin can evaluate your concerns in a consultation.

What Are the Benefits of Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck is primarily intended for patients who have redundant skin and possibly mild fat accumulation along the abdomen. A tummy tuck is also useful for repairing and tightening stretched abdominal muscles that cause the abdomen to protrude further than normal. These damaged muscles cannot be restored to their previous state with any amount of diet or exercise. For this reason, a tummy tuck can be particularly advantageous for mothers who wish to regain their pre-pregnancy figure. In fact, tummy tuck surgery is one of the more popular options for women who choose to undergo a comprehensive Mommy Makeover procedure.

Chief benefits of the procedure can include:

  • The removal of excess loose or redundant abdominal skin
  • The tightening of remaining skin for a firmer, flatter appearance
  • The tightening of the abdominal musculature and fascia
  • A slimmer waistline
  • Improved fit of clothing
  • Overall improved sense of self confidence and elevated self-esteem

What Are My Tummy Tuck Options?

Body contouring surgery of any kind should always be considered in the setting of a healthy lifestyle with proper eating and exercise. That being said, if a patient has mostly just loose abdominal skin, stretch marks, and/or loose rectus muscles either from pregnancies or gaining and losing weight, a standard tummy tuck or abdominoplasty may be appropriate. For the patient who has some extra unwanted fat in the abdomen, a lipoabdominoplasty, or “Combituck,” might be the better operation (see below). To determine which option is best, it is necessary to be evaluated in person with a thorough consultation. For patients who can “pinch more than an inch” at the tummy area, a standard tummy tuck alone may not be able to achieve the desired results.

Standard Tummy Tuck

A standard tummy tuck is designed for patients who are at or near their ideal weight but who have excess skin around their abdomen. Candidates for a standard tummy tuck may also have an abdomen that protrudes due to stretched or torn muscles. During a standard tummy tuck, excess skin can be removed, the underlying musculature can be tightened or repaired, and patients can achieve a flatter, smoother stomach and lower abdomen.

Umbilical Float Tummy Tuck or “Mini-abdominoplasty”

Some patients have a minimal amount of excess abdominal skin, but experience a loosened abdominal musculature that only requires muscle or abdominal wall tightening. In this situation, a small incision is made below the bikini line and the fibrous band attached to the umbilicus (belly button) is divided in order to allow the muscles to be tightened. The umbilicus is then reattached to the tightened muscles and a small amount of loose skin can be trimmed. Most of the “tightening” occurs on the inside, resulting in an obviously flatter and tighter tummy, especially from a side view.

Lipoabdominoplasty (Combituck)

Some patients may require both a tummy tuck and liposuction to improve the appearance of their tummy and trunk. This has also been referred to as lipoabdominoplasty, or a “Combituck.” In this procedure, a less extensive undermining of the loose tummy skin is performed, while liposuction is performed over the whole area of the abdomen or torso (sometimes front and back), followed by the skin removal and tightening. The specifics of the surgery are somewhat different in order to ensure a proper and healthy blood supply. Lipoabdominoplasty is a relatively new technique first developed in Brazil that combines both procedures, and one with which board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ram Kalus has extensive experience.

How Is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?

Most tummy tuck procedures begin with as short an incision as possible, made directly above the pubic area between the hips in the natural transition zone between the tummy and pelvic area. The location of the incision is placed so that it may be easily concealed by a swimsuit or underwear, and the incision is designed to remove a prior C-section scar whenever possible. Dr. Kalus is then able to tighten any stretched or torn abdominal muscles before pulling the skin taut and removing any excess. The umbilicus (belly button, or navel) is then sutured into its natural position. For patients who are better suited to undergo lipoabdominoplasty, liposuction will be performed before the skin is redraped. Depending on the extent of work needed for the procedure, abdominoplasty surgery may last anywhere from two to five hours.

What Is Tummy Tuck Recovery Like?

The most common expectations following abdominoplasty include mild swelling and bruising, and the need to walk with a slight bend at the hips and knees for a few days after surgery. There is some post-operative discomfort, but Dr. Kalus or Dr. Rowin will inject a long-acting time-release local anesthetic that will leave many of his patients almost pain-free for up to 72 hours after surgery. Any breakthrough post-operative discomfort can be controlled with medication. These symptoms normally last no longer than 10 days. Patients are encouraged to begin early ambulation immediately after their surgery in order to avoid the risk of developing blood clots. Dr. Kalus may recommend patients wear a compression garment during the first stages of recovery to minimize swelling. Most patients will feel 75% recovered within three weeks and 95% recovered by six weeks. Most patients can return to a normal daily activity level within ten days to two weeks, but exercise should not begin for approximately 4-6 weeks following surgery.

How Long Do Tummy Tuck Results Last?

The results of the tummy tuck procedure can be best maintained by eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly. While it is considered safe to have children after a tummy tuck for most patients, future pregnancies may compromise the long-term results of the procedure. To achieve the best long-term result. Dr. Kalus recommends women wait to schedule a tummy tuck until they plan on having no more children. By keeping a stable weight, patients can help ensure their tummy tuck results last for many years.

What Will My Tummy Tuck Scars Look Like?

Abdominoplasty scars generally extend from hip to hip and exist low on the pubis. Although scars from tummy tuck surgery are unavoidable, Dr. Kalus and Dr. Rowin take every measure to place incisions in such a way that any resulting scars are well-hidden under most types of clothing, including swimsuit bottoms and undergarments. Disguising incisions within the natural creases of the abdomen whenever possible, they work diligently to ensure scars appear as inconspicuous as possible. Drs. Kalus and Rowin will also provide in-depth instructions detailing how to best care for your incisions post-operatively to foster an optimal healing process. Patients usually find that their scars flatten and fade to some degree over time, and do not mind the presence of post-surgical scars in light of the benefits of the procedure.

How Much Does Tummy Tuck Cost?

Each tummy tuck procedure is customized to meet the unique needs of the patient. The exact price of a tummy tuck will be influenced by factors such as the technique used during the procedure, the degree of skin and/or fat that needs to be removed, and the length of surgery. At the end of the initial consultation, a member of Dr. Kalus and Dr. Rowin’s team will quote you a price estimate for the cost of your tummy tuck based upon your specific custom-tailored treatment plan. Our practice will be happy to talk with you about the variety of payment options available that can make tummy tuck surgery as financially convenient as possible.

Pregnancy After Tummy Tuck

Although pregnancy is still possible after abdominoplasty, our plastic surgeons recommend pursuing a tummy tuck after plans for having children are complete. As the natural changes caused by childbearing include a loss of skin elasticity, as well as the stretching and separation of abdominal muscles, women who become pregnant after a tummy tuck usually experience some degree of laxity in their midsection that may reverse their surgery results. Consequently, pregnancy after a tummy tuck can cause many of the same concerns that patients originally sought to correct before treatment, compromising the final outcome achieved.

Tummy Tuck Patient Testimonial Video

*Individual Results May Vary

If you are considering a tummy tuck procedure or other body contouring options, please contact our office in Mount Pleasant/Charleston to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kalus or Dr. Rowin. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have!

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