Tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) is one of the most commonly sought after cosmetic surgeries at Shaw Plastic Surgery in Wichita, Kansas. In fact, it is only surpassed by liposuction and breast augmentation as the most commonly performed cosmetic surgeries done every year in the U.S. Tummy tuck results are immediate and easily recognized—much the same as with breast augmentation.
The majority of James M. Shaw, MD’s patients are seeking improvement in abdominal contour. Many patients are also trying to improve the appearance of skin that has stretch marks. Stretch marks occur when expansion, either due to pregnancy or weight gain, occurs more rapidly than the skin can accommodate. The deeper layers of the skin tear and then heal by making a thin scar. Once this happens, the natural elasticity of the skin is permanently gone. With a tummy tuck, stretch marks on the lower portion of the abdomen can be removed. Unfortunately, stretch marks that are too high on the abdomen or too far to the sides will not be eliminated.
Tummy tucks are typically done by James M. Shaw, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon, under general anesthesia at an outpatient surgery center. Your anesthesia provider is also board certified and will be immediately available at all times. After the anesthesia wears off, you can go home the same day, but you will need a responsible adult to drive for you.
The skin incision starts low, like a C-section scar and extends out to the sides, curving above the front bones of the pelvis. Shorter scars are sometimes possible, but far less skin can be removed with a shorter scar. Typically, most or all of the skin below the belly button will be removed and the upper skin is pulled down tight, similar to pulling down a window shade. The belly button will remain in its current location and a new opening for it will be made after the skin is pulled tight.
Most patients have liposuction of the upper abdomen at the same time. Many patients add additional areas of liposuction so that everything can be done during the same surgery. Drains may or may not be needed, depending on each patient’s situation. If placed, drains will be removed during the first or second office visit.
A tummy tuck is a fairly big surgery with a fairly long incision. Some patients may prefer to have a mini-tummy tuck. The mini-tummy tuck is a less aggressive approach and allows for skin tightening below the belly button only. There is no skin tightening above the belly button and much less tightening toward the sides of the abdomen. The skin incision is shorter, but not substantially shorter. Not very many patients are truly good candidates for a mini-tummy tuck as opposed to a full abdominoplasty. The compromise for less surgery is a less obvious result.
After The Surgery
Patients are usually very pleased with the immediate change that has occurred with their tummy tuck. During the surgery, the skin is pulled very tightly. It is typical to walk with a bend at the waist for the first five to seven days. For comfort, it is best to be in a flexed position, similar to a recliner, where the back, shoulders and head are elevated and the knees and hips are flexed. You will need to be up walking the day of surgery. In the beginning, you may need someone to help with getting out of bed and to the bathroom. Walking helps to reduce the chances of forming blood clots in the legs. Also it is recommended that you move your ankles up and down several times an hour while you are awake. You will have a compression garment to wear after surgery. This is usually a wide elastic band with Velcro. The compression usually feels better while moving about. It does not need to be uncomfortably tight. Wearing the garment does not “mold” or “shape” your abdomen. Feel free to loosen or remove it if it is uncomfortable.
Activity restriction should be strict the first week. You should stay home for the first week and get up and move around frequently when awake. It is OK to shower, but do not submerge the incisions in a bath or pool. Don’t do any housework, yard word or running of errands. After about one week, most patients are able to return to work, school or running errands. You should avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity and exercise for the first month following surgery.