Weight fluctuations, aging, and pregnancy can alter your body profile significantly, and it can be difficult to restore it to its original state, regardless of how hard you try with diet and exercise. The abdomen can be particularly challenging, as an expanding midsection may stretch the underlying muscles and make it nearly impossible to eliminate the bulge and achieve a flat, smooth contour once again. Abdominoplasty is a way to tighten the abdomen inside and out to produce the more active body profile you want.
From Dr. Pearl
“The tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is one of the most common operations I perform. It is a powerful, life-changing operation. When patients look at themselves in the mirror for the first time after surgery, the joy and surprise on their faces are palpable. Many say that they never thought they could look like this again.”
Dr. Pearl designs each tummy tuck to get a patient’s body back, not to change who he or she is. His focus for every tummy tuck operation is to customize it based on each individual patient and provide results that don’t look like they have had surgery.
Dr. Pearl has performed thousands of abdominoplasty procedures and works with each of his patients to tailor the surgery to the unique needs of the individual. Whether you are looking for a small amount of correction or more dramatic results, Dr. Pearl has the knowledge and techniques to ensure your tummy tuck produces natural, long-lasting results.
What is a Tummy Tuck?
Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery is designed for individuals who desire tight, contoured midsections. It removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen. Depending on the needs of his patient, Dr. Pearl may tighten underlying muscles while removing tissue, fat and loose skin. Abdominoplasty offers some of the most dramatic body contouring enhancement, with results that will last forever if you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Pearl closes the tummy tuck with progressive tension sutures under the skin so that no drains are needed.
A tummy tuck is frequently performed as a stand-alone procedure to improve the body contour when diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices do not get you the results you desire. However, the surgery can also be combined with other treatments to enhance the outcome further. Common procedures done with a tummy tuck include breast enhancement and liposuction. Dr. Pearl will advise you on the right procedures for you based on your specific concerns, your age and health, and the goals you hope to achieve.
Is a Tummy Tuck Right for You?
A tummy tuck is appropriate for both men and women that would like to tighten and flatten the midsection. The best candidates might include:
- Older, overweight individuals with folds of loose skin
- Younger individuals with excess skin
- Those who have a significant amount of loose skin due to weight fluctuations or pregnancy
- People who still retain excess fat despite their diet and exercise efforts
Choosing a Tummy Tuck Surgeon
A tummy tuck is an extensive operation, so selecting the right plastic surgeon is critical to ensuring a safe procedure and an optimal outcome. Board-certification is just the start of your selection process. You also want a surgeon that has advanced techniques in scar management since the incision used for a tummy tuck is often significant, and you want to ensure it heals well.
Benefits of a Tummy Tuck
- A tummy tuck offers numerous benefits, including:
- Smoother, flatter midsection
- Tighter abdominal muscles
- Reduction in loose skin around the middle
- Elimination of some stretch marks
- Repositioning of the belly button for a natural look
Although a tummy tuck features many advantages, it isn’t the top choice for every patient in search of body contouring options. Dr. Pearl makes it a priority to listen to your concerns and understand your aesthetic goals to determine whether a tummy tuck will be necessary to give you your desired outcome.
Choices in Tummy Tucks
Just as no two patients are quite the same, no two tummy tucks will be performed in precisely the same way. The technique Dr. Pearl uses for your procedure will depend on the amount of correction needed and the changes you are hoping to gain.
For patients who only require small alterations in the midsection, Dr. Barrett may recommend a partial abdominoplasty or mini tummy tuck. This approach usually involves a shorter incision, which means that less skin can be pulled and shifted. The shorter incision also allows for a quicker more comfortable recovery process. However, the results are not as dramatic, because the amount of skin that can be excised is limited with a mini tummy tuck. However, this procedure can be enhanced using liposuction to remove additional unwanted fat for a more sculpted result. Sometimes, when patients do not have a great deal of excess skin above the umbilicus, Dr. Pearl can avoid a scar around the umbilicus by moving it down on the abdominal wall a few centimeters. This second incision allows for movement of the navel if necessary as well. If you have laxity above the belly button, you may benefit more from a full tummy tuck. A traditional tummy tuck offers more correction and is particularly helpful for patients that have a significant amount of loose skin. This technique typically requires two incisions – a horizontal incision running between the navel and the pubic hairline and a second incision encircling the navel.
Preparing for Your Procedure
Because a tummy tuck is an extensive surgery that involves a significant incision, what you do before your procedure will make a profound difference in how your body handles the surgery and the recovery time. Dr. Pearl will list a few different steps he will expect you to follow to create the safest possible environment for your operation. These steps might include:
- Stop smoking for six weeks minimum before and after your tummy tuck. Nicotine has a direct effect on wound healing, and the size of the incision for this surgery can be severely impacted by cigarette use. In addition, smoking can increase your risk for complications related to the anesthesia you will receive for the procedure.
- Provide a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as any supplements you are currently taking. Some substances can increase bleeding during and after your procedure. Dr. Pearl will want you to avoid blood-thinning medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and supplements like vitamin E for at least one week before surgery for this reason.
- Line up help and support for after your tummy tuck surgery. You will not be up and around right away after a tummy tuck, and you will need enough time to rest your body so that it can heal well. Having someone in the house to handle your care, as well as the care of children or pets in the home, is essential to a safe and comfortable early recovery process.
Tummy Tuck Overview
During the surgery, Dr. Pearl will create the incisions that were discussed during your preliminary appointments, taking care to place the horizontal incision low enough that it will be hidden within undergarments and a bathing suit. An incision around the navel will be placed in the natural creases of the skin to minimize visible scarring in this area as well. Through the incisions, Dr. Pearl will tighten the abdominal muscles if necessary and remove excess tissue and fat from the abdomen. Loose skin will also be excised before the skin is pulled firmly across the middle and the incision is sutured closed. Dr. Pearl will also reposition the navel if necessary to ensure your outcome looks natural and proportionate. In some cases, Dr. Pearl may also use liposuction before closing incisions to produce additional sculpting. Dr. Pearl also uses progressive tension mattress sutures so that drains are typically not required.
A dressing will be applied over the sutures and tubes may be inserted into the incision to keep fluid from draining out of the surgical area. You will be given a compression garment to wear that will reduce swelling and promote healthy blood flow to the area.
After Your Tummy Tuck
When you go home after your tummy tuck, you are likely to be swollen and sore. The first few days, you will be encouraged to rest and take non-opioid pain medication Dr. Barrett recommends to keep you comfortable. Dr. Barrett will provide additional instructions specific to your recovery. Following these instructions carefully can help reduce post-surgery complications, help you maintain a higher level of comfort, and speed up your recovery time. It is particularly true that you adhere to the instructions you receive for caring for your incision since following Dr. Barrett’s protocol will minimize scarring once the incision fully heals.
You will have regular follow-up appointments in our office, where you will be seen by Dr. Pearl , so he can carefully monitor your progress. This will also be an opportunity for you to share concerns and ask questions about your recovery. Dr. Pearl will provide you with guidelines on when you can return to different activities, based on your healing process. However, you can expect to return to work within about two weeks (if your job is not overly taxing) and vigorous activities within about six weeks.