During an abdominoplasty, an incision is made across the abdomen, just above the pubic area. The doctor makes a second incision to free the belly button from the belly button stalk. The skin is then pulled up along the rib cage, separating it from the abdominal wall. Excess fat is removed from the abdominal area. Next the surgeon tightens the underlying tissue and muscle by suturing it together, revealing a tighter, more toned waistline.
The surgeon then pulls the skin back down, removing any excess, and makes a new incision for the belly button. Sometimes at this point the surgeon performs liposuction to sculpt the abdomen. A compete abdominoplasty takes about two to five hours. A partial, or mini-tummy tuck, is a less invasive procedure that focuses just on removing excess skin and fat from the lower abdominal area and takes about one to two hours to perform.
Ideal candidates for this procedure include individuals who retain extra fat and skin around their midsections even when they adhere to a diet and exercise program, especially people who have loose skin after weight loss or multiple pregnancies.
If you decide to consult a cosmetic surgeon about abdominoplasty, expect the doctor to begin by taking a detailed family and personal medical history that he will use to evaluate whether you are a suitable candidate for cosmetic surgery. He will then examine your abdominal area to measure fat deposits, their distribution, and your general skin tone.
The plastic surgeon will also explain the surgical process to you, including informing you of any anesthetic that will be used, and discuss risks associated with the surgery. The surgeon will then explain the recovery process to you and estimate how long it’s likely to take, and give you an honest assessment of what results you should ultimately expect from your surgery.
If you decide to proceed with the plastic surgery, your doctor will give you detailed instructions before surgery, including a warning to refrain from smoking during the two week period prior to the procedure and the two weeks after surgery, as smoking inhibits wound healing.
Swelling and pain are common and to be expected afterward. Your physician can give you medications to ease the pain, and you can expect to have your sutures taken out approximately a week after surgery. Recovery times depends upon the individual, but many people are able to return to work after only one to two weeks, even though they may not fully recover for several months. Scars will take a little longer to fade.