Stubborn fat pockets in the abdominal region can be extremely difficult to eliminate. They often cannot be adequately addressed or rectified with diet and exercise alone. Diet and exercise cannot correct the sometimes frustrating aesthetic problem of access abdominal skin laxity (loose, hanging skin). This can be caused by a number of factors, such as: genetics, the natural aging process, stress, childbirth, drastic fluctuations in weight, and/or hormonal imbalances.
Fortunately, abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery can offer a solution to some troublesome aesthetic issues that can be present in the abdominal (tummy) area. It can be performed to enhance and improve upon the appearance of a protruding or flabby abdomen.
There are four primary abdominoplasty options. After evaluating the degree of skin and fat excision that you will require, Dr. Sinno will help you to select one of the following techniques:
- Partial/Mini Abdominoplasty: often performed on patients whose fat deposits are located below the navel and does not require a second incision to reposition the navel. The incisions are generally short and are usually placed low on the tummy, so that patients are able to conceal them in underwear and clothing.
- Complete/Full Abdominoplasty: performed on patients with fat deposits or excess skin both above and below the navel (belly button/umbilicus), and generally involves an incision made from hipbone to hipbone, followed by contouring of the abdominal skin, tissue and musculature, as needed. This surgery involves using a second incision around the circumference of the navel to reposition it to a more aesthetically desirable position. The incisions are generally placed low, so that patients are able to conceal them in underwear and clothing.
- Belt Lipectomy (lower body lift): is generally performed for those patients who have fat deposits or access skin in the tummy area as well as the hips that may extend to the back. Many patients who have lost a lot of weight may fit into this category. The belt lipectomy surgery involves a circumferential 360-degree incision all around the tummy, hips, sides, and back as a “belt”. The incisions are generally placed low, so that patients are able to conceal them in underwear and clothing.
- A lower body lift can help re-drape the loose and hanging skin on the thigh and buttock upwards in order to provide a slimmer and more taut appearance of the lower body.
- A buttock augmentation can be coupled with a belt lipectomy using your own tissue (autologous augmentation). Instead of discarding the excess fat, skin and tissue that can be found in the back area, Dr. Sinno can tuck this tissue underneath the buttocks to help augment your buttocks. The goal is to transform a once flattened, low buttock into a higher fuller back side.
- Fleur de Lis Lipectomy (Fleur De Lis Abdominoplasty): can help patients who have a higher amount of access fat and skin in the midline areas above and below the navel. This procedure is popular with patients who have lost large amounts of weight and are left with an excess of skin in both the up and down and side to side directions in the tummy area.
The Fleur De Lis procedure is similar to a tummy tuck procedure that removes excess fat and skin using a horizontal incision but also adds the potential benefit of removing more excess fat and skin in the vertical incision. The final incisions can be imagined as an inverted “T” shape on the front side of the tummy, where a horizontal incision runs low side to side from hip to hip and a vertical incision runs up and down from the chest area of the tummy down to the lower horizontal incision.
An abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery is generally performed on an outpatient basis, using general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. During your abdominoplasty procedure, Dr. Sinno will make a horizontal incision between your navel and pubic hairline. He will repair and suture the weakened abdominal muscles. Utilizing the same incision, he will then remove surplus abdominal fat, tissue, and skin, and (if needed) will reposition the belly button.
Following your tummy tuck surgery, bandages or dressings will be applied to your incisions. You may be given a surgical compression garment to reduce swelling and to promote proper healing. A small, thin tube may be placed under the skin temporarily, as a means to drain any excess blood or fluid.
Your abdominoplasty results will be apparent immediately after your surgery. It should continue to improve over the next few months, as remaining the swelling decreases. Although your total healing time will be determined by your body’s unique capacity to heal itself, you will be advised to refrain from all vigorous physical activity for at least six weeks following your abdominoplasty.
Abdominoplasty surgery generally takes one to three hours, after which, you may be released (depending on your medical condition and overall health) to a friend or family member and may return home to continue your recovery.
Dr. Sinno and his team will apply a special dressing and initial bandages that should be kept dry and clean for the first week. At that point, the bandages will be removed and your post-operative state will be evaluated.
The abdominal compressive binder should be applied on top of your dressings and should be tight enough to feel the pressure but not too tight where it is causing discomfort.
After your surgery, in the case of drains, our nursing staff will be happy to provide you with instruction on the drains. Dr. Sinno will provide you with a prescription for drain care by your local community service center (CLSC). Drains are usually removed by the CLCS within one to two weeks after your procedure (this can vary, depending on each patient and their healing ability).
Showers and Washing
The bandages usually are removed within a week after surgery. Dr. Sinno recommends that all bandages should remain dry and clean after your surgery until your first follow-up appointment. Showers should be avoided until authorized by Dr. Sinno. This is usually after all bandages are removed at the first post-operative visit. Until then, sponge baths are recommended.
White non-scented shampoo and soap are recommended to be used along with running water on the incisions, after the bandages are removed and when given medical authorization to do so.
Activity and Exercise
You will be advised to keep your hips flexed at 45 degrees at all times immediately following your tummy-tuck procedure. This prevents stretching on the incisions and helps scars mature to more aesthetic appealing final results.
For patients who have had a belt lipectomy procedure, Dr. Sinno advises them to remain in the flexed position at 45 degrees and not to bend more than 90 degrees to prevent the back incisions from stretching. This is usually advised for a two-week period.
Dr. Sinno recommends that patients refrain from all activities that may increase heart rate or pressure including exercise, sexual activity, stressful situations, etc., for at least two weeks after their surgery.
However, it is recommended that patients walk and perform their usual activities within the limitation of the medical advice given and their tolerance to their comfort. No lifting more than 10 lbs. (4 kg) is recommended, for at least two weeks after the surgery.
Sleeping on your stomach should be avoided for at least two weeks after the surgery. Dr. Sinno recommends that, after a tummy-tuck procedure, patients sleep with a flexed position with at least a 45-degree angulation. Sleeping upright in bed or in a chair with the legs elevated above the heart can be good options.
Patients are recommended not to drive when taking narcotic pain medications and when having bulky dressings that may hinder their normal reflexes and reactivity.
You may experience some swelling and bruising that will peak two to three days after your surgery, and will usually subside within two to six weeks. Post-operative swelling, pain, bruising and the duration may differ depending on the patient and the extent of the tummy-tuck.
You will be expected to be able to see visible aesthetic improvements in your abdomen area immediately following your abdominoplasty procedure, and these results should continue to progress over the following weeks, as the incision site heals and the swelling decreases. Swelling can take six weeks to subside and Dr. Sinno advises his patients that final results should be expected at one year after the post-operative period, when all scars and incisions should be mature.
All medical and surgical procedures have inherent risks and potential complications that are associated with them. It is imperative that you understand the potential risks, complications and consequences that can arise after the medical or surgical procedure you undertake. This understanding will better allow you to be able to provide informed consent based on the comparison to the potential benefit of the desired procedure.
Although the materialization of inherent risks is rare and developing complications is unlikely, these are real events that can occur. Dr. Sinno will help you to understand the risk/benefit profile of your desired procedure.
The average price of an abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) procedure range between $5,400 to $18,400 plus applicable taxes.