Anything from pregnancy, extreme weight loss, aging, or just plain genetics can create a protruding belly that diet and exercise cannot correct. A combination of loose skin, excess fat, and stretched abdominal muscles can lead to a sagging abdominal wall and an unsightly bulge. As we age, skin elasticity declines, and pregnancy or weight gain can stretch out the skin in a way where it simply can’t return to its former tautness. Fatty deposits throughout the abdomen can also be challenging to target, even if you maintain a healthy lifestyle. The two vertical abdominal muscles that create a sleek contour for the abdomen can pull apart over time, and pregnancy can permanently damage those muscles, causing them to droop and separate – a condition called rectus muscle diastasis. This separation makes it impossible to have the same waistline that you once did. Thankfully, a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, can address all of the problems that contribute to a protruding belly to give you a flat, taut abdomen.
History of the Tummy Tuck
Like most plastic surgery procedures, the procedures which act as precursors to an abdominoplasty focus on removing physical deformities rather than improving the abdomen aesthetically or minimizing the appearance of scars. 1890, French surgeons Dr. Demars and Dr. Marx caused a sensation by performing a “dermolipectomy,” a procedure to fix a protruding belly button and to remove excess skin and fat. Their patient was a medical student, and dermolipectomy succeeded in reducing his abdomen, which hung down to his thighs. By 1899, Dr. Kelly was performing the modern abdominoplasty at John Hopkins. At this point, however, the belly button was usually wholly removed during a tummy tuck, leading to an unnatural look. By the early 1900s, aesthetic medicine developed techniques that could save the belly button, and as the decades went on, new suturing techniques and incision placements led to more discrete scarring. By the 1970s, the location of the tummy tuck incision was moving in concert with the popular swimsuit styles of the time.
As time went on, the abdominoplasty evolved in a way that focused on creating the most aesthetically pleasing results: inconspicuous scars, flatter stomachs, and narrower waists. Today, with the recent addition of the liposuction procedure and the development of different variations, each abdominoplasty can be fully customized in a number of ways to suit unique body shapes and abdominal anatomies.
The traditional tummy tuck creates a horizontal incision in the lower abdomen. The placement will vary with each patient, but your Aesthetx surgeon will customize your tummy tuck incision to make it as discreet as possible. Dr. Zeidler and Dr. Berkowitz use a technique developed by a Brazilian surgeon, called the Saldanha abdominoplasty. Also known as a “lipoabdominoplasty,” this technique provides the most dramatic reshaping results.
First, complete abdominal liposuction is done to get rid of fatty deposits. Then an incision is made to remove the excess skin between the belly button and the pubic region, making it as low and discreet as possible. Then the two vertical rectus muscles are sutured together from the breast bone to the pubic bone. The belly button, which is left attached to the abdominal wall, is cut out and separated from the rest of the lifted skin. Next, we pull the skin and a small amount of remaining fat down tight and make a new hole for the belly button. Lastly, we close the incision with dissolving sutures.
Usually, liposuction on the flanks (love handles) and lower back are performed with the abdominoplasty to maximize the fat reduction results and create a contoured waistline.
Some patients might have pockets of fat and loose skin that are localized to their lower abdomen below the belly button. These patients are the perfect candidates for a mini-abdominoplasty, a variation of the tummy tuck that uses a smaller incision and leaves the belly button untouched. The ideal candidate for the mini tummy tuck is in relatively good shape with a problem area situated below the belly button. Like a regular abdominoplasty, a mini-abdominoplasty can remove excess skin and fat. However, a mini-abdominoplasty only lifts skin and fat to the level of the belly button.
Modified Endoscopic-Assisted Abdominoplasty
Dr. Zeidler and Dr. Berkowitz routinely perform a modified endoscopic-assisted abdominoplasty designed to address significant rectus muscle diastasis on patients who have only a small amount of excess fat and loose skin. It requires only small incisions above the pubic area and in the belly button. This procedure uses a tiny camera called an endoscope, which allows your surgeon to work under the skin without creating large incisions. Through small incisions, the muscles can be stitched together and reinforced to create a narrower middle. Additionally, pockets of stubborn fat can be removed and skin can be tightened somewhat. These approaches combine to refine the waistline and strengthen the core. Patients with muscle diastasis and a small amount of excess skin are good candidates for this procedure.
For patients who experience fullness in the upper part of their abdomen, a reverse abdominoplasty can remove excess skin and fat by creating incisions underneath the breast, also known as the inframammary folds. Skin and fat above the belly button are then pulled up and removed, and the muscles can be tightened. For patients with fuller breasts, these incisions can be completely hidden, and in general are not noticeable even when wearing a bikini.
Your tummy tuck will take about three to four hours to complete, and we perform this surgery in our fully-accredited, state-of-the-art surgical facility. Many patients are comfortable with an epidural and sedation, which allows them to experience a fast recovery. Catheters are placed deep in the abdomen to minimize any discomfort after the procedure.
Because the abdominoplasty is an outpatient procedure, you will be able to go home the same day as your surgery. You will leave with specialized compression bandages in place that will help to prevent swelling and support your body as you heal. Most of our patients take about two weeks away from work, and are able to return to most daily activities after this initial time of recovery.
Aesthetx is renowned for extremely informative and in-depth consultations. To schedule your private consultation for an abdominoplasty or to learn more about the procedures, contact Aesthetx by visiting HERE or calling (408) 559-7177.
Do You Always Repair the Muscle During a Tummy Tuck?
Muscle repair is included in a tummy tuck whenever it is needed. When the abdomen rapidly expands, the abdominal muscles can stretch and separate, a condition called diastasis recti. During a tummy tuck, these separated muscles are pulled together again and stitched in place. This muscle repair creates a sort of internal girdle that will hold the core strong and create the appearance of a flatter, tighter tummy after surgery. Also, because the core is aligned and tightened, many patients feel stronger and feel relief from back pain
Will My “Abs” Show After a Tummy Tuck?
Many patients turn to a tummy tuck in hopes of achieving visible abs. Your abdominal appearance will change after your procedure, but not every patient will achieve a sculpted six-pack. A tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat to reveal hidden abdominal contours. At Aesthetx, we use the Saldanha lipoabdominoplasty technique, which thins tissue out to better reveal contours. Also, tissue is sculpted to enhance the contours by pulling the tissue tight while leaving certain tissue attached, creating the illusion of contour.
Can a Hernia Be Repaired with a Tummy Tuck?
Yes, many hernias can be repaired at the same time as a tummy tuck. Many times, we work with a general surgeon if the hernia is complicated. Ask your surgeon if this is an option for you.
How Should I Prepare for My Tummy Tuck Consultation?
A tummy tuck consultation is a unique opportunity to learn more about the procedure from a highly qualified plastic surgeon. No preparation is needed, but it can be helpful to learn a bit about the procedure before you come in. Write down any questions you have and bring a list with you. Your surgeon will ask about your medical history, so bring any relevant medical records and a complete list of all medications and supplements you’re taking.
What Should I Expect the Day of My Tummy Tuck Procedure?
The few days before surgery there are several showers and medications to put on your belly button to prevent infections. The day before surgery there is a gentle bowel clean out done to be sure the muscle can be fully tightened and to be sure constipation doesn’t make the first few days after surgery uncomfortable. We like the abdomen to be empty for the best and most comfortable results.
On the day of your procedure, you’ll arrive at our surgical center at the assigned time. A member of our team will check you in and help you prepare for your procedure. Patients meet with their surgeon one last time for surgical markings and any final questions. You’ll also meet your nursing team and anesthesiologist.
Our team will expertly care for you during and after your surgery until you’re ready to return home. Some patients will be ready to head home on the day of their procedure while others will spend a night with us under observation.
Will I Have Drains After the Surgery? How Long Will They Stay?
Most patients will have drains after their tummy tuck. These drains help to remove fluid from the body as you heal. Drains require minimal care and will be removed shortly, in less than a week after your procedure.
Will I Have a Large Scar? Do Scars Fade?
The length of your scar will depend on the amount of tissue removal needed. Incisions are placed low on the abdomen, where they unnoticeable under most clothing and bikinis.
At first, the scars are dark and red. Over time, they will fade, eventually becoming much thinner and lighter. We have patients do silicone scar sheeting and laser treatments to minimize the appearance.
Will Sutures Need to Be Removed After Surgery?
We typically use dissolvable sutures that will not require removal. There is usually an antibiotic skin glue applied that is removed after 3-4 weeks.
How Long Will I Be Out of Work?
Most patients miss 1-2 weeks of work after a tummy tuck in the Silicon Valley. Patients working in a physically demanding or strenuous job may need additional time off work.
How Long Does Recovery Take?
Full recovery after a tummy tuck can take 6-8 weeks, but most patients are back to their daily activities much sooner.
What Are Some Things to Look for in a Great Tummy Tuck Result?
The hallmarks of a great tummy tuck include a natural-appearing belly button that is contoured above and below, with a scar camouflaged deep inside. The best tummy tuck surgeons will make your scars bikini friendly. At Aesthetx, we consistently create these results for our patients in the Silicon Valley.
Can I Get Pregnant After a Tummy Tuck? What Happens If I Do?
A tummy tuck will not impact your ability to get pregnant. While pregnancy is safe after a tummy tuck, for optimal aesthetic results, it is not recommended. Pregnancy causes the abdominal tissues to stretch and shift, often reversing many of the effects of abdominoplasty.
What Are the Most Common Tummy Tuck Complications?
Any surgery has risks, tummy tucks included. Your surgeon will discuss the risks of this procedure in greater detail during your consultation. To keep risks as low as possible, Aesthetx follows rigorous health and safety protocols.
Can I Have Full Body Sculpting at the Same Time?
This is recommended. Almost all abdominoplasty patients undergo simultaneous liposuction of the back to provide the best waistline reshaping. Many will include liposuction of the upper back and lower chest, and many will include liposuction of the inner and outer thighs.
How Long Before I Can Exercise?
Wait to exercise until your surgeon gives you the okay. Exercising too soon after a tummy tuck can lead to post-surgery complications. Most tummy tuck exercise timelines look like this:
- Walking day 1
- Standing straight 2 weeks
- Light cardio 3 weeks
- Full exercise 6 weeks but no core training
- Strengthen for and abdominal specific exercise 3 months
When Can I Pick Up My Baby or Toddler After a Tummy Tuck?
Many of our patients receive their tummy tuck as part of a mommy makeover, a set of surgical procedures designed to restore the body after pregnancy. These patients often have young children and lifting restrictions can be difficult during recovery. We typically recommend lifting no more than 5 pounds for 3-4 weeks. Many patients arrange for help with childcare to make these restrictions more manageable.
My Abdomen Feels Tight After Surgery. Will I Hurt Something If I Move?
A tummy tuck tightens skin and abdominal muscles. Feeling tight is very normal and means that your surgery was a success. Be careful and move in a way that doesn’t strain or put pressure on your incisions. The tightness will gradually resolve in the weeks following your surgery. It’s important to relieve tension by practicing 2 weeks of flexion at the hips at and bent knees.
Is a Tummy Tuck Painful?
Deep nerve blocks are done during surgery with an anesthetic that last three days. We use a combination of three types of medications for synergistic effects – a narcotic, an anti-inflammatory, and a nerve blocker. We want our patients to rest and recover comfortably.
Will You Use My Own Belly Button? How Do You Recreate the Belly Button?
Our goal is to create optimal tummy tuck results for each patient. Sometimes this means using a patient’s own belly button but repositioning it to a higher position on the abdominal wall. Other times, your surgeon may craft a new belly button.
Regardless of the methods our surgeons used to create your belly button, you can rest assured that they will create the most natural-looking results possible after your procedure.
How Long Does It Take to Plan a Tummy Tuck Procedure?
The timing for a tummy tuck will depend on several factors including the difficulty of your procedure, your surgeon’s schedule, and your availability.
The sooner you schedule your consultation, the sooner we can get started on your tummy transformation. Call us today!
How Long Does a Tummy Tuck Procedure Take?
As the majority of patients include liposuction of the back, a typical tummy tuck takes between 4-5 hours depending on thickness of tissue. Your surgeon can give you a better idea of what to expect from your procedure during your consultation.
Will I Lose Weight From a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is not a weight-loss treatment, but you will lose a small amount of weight from the procedure. Although body contours will improve significantly with the removal of excess skin and fat, most patients lose only a pound or two.
How do I know if a tummy tuck is right for me?
A good candidate for a tummy tuck is in good general health. Though the procedure has come a long way, it is still a surgery that requires the body to heal, and you need to be in relatively good health to do so properly. Our patients that choose abdominoplasty are close to their ideal weight but have a “problem area” in their stomachs.