Abdominoplasty “Tummy Tuck”

A woman's midriff with a flat waistline

Abdominoplasty, or a “tummy tuck,” is designed to correct a protruding abdomen resulting from weak abdominal muscles, weight gain, or pregnancy. These conditions may not respond well to diet or exercise if the skin and underlying muscles have been stretched, resulting in loss of elasticity.

With abdominoplasty, often the abdominal wall muscles are tightened, and excess fatty tissue and skin are removed to improve the body contour. The goal is a narrower, flatter abdomen. Realistic expectations are important and it important for patients to understand that abdominoplasty is not a substitute for weight loss.

Dr. Cimino considers all variables when evaluating a candidate for this procedure.

Before Surgery

Dr. Cimino will take a complete medical history and conduct a physical examination to evaluate your overall health. Ideally, the abdominoplasty patient has no health problems and wishes only to remove an excess deposit of fat or loose abdominal skin. Patients on a weight-loss plan should be close to their target weight before having this procedure. Women planning future pregnancies should delay abdominoplasty, as pregnancy may promote further abdominal stretching.

Antibiotics are prescribed prior to surgery to prevent infection. To minimize the possibility of excess bleeding, avoid taking drugs containing aspirin for several weeks before surgery. You will also be advised to bathe with an antiseptic soap for several days prior to surgery.

The Procedure

Abdominoplasty is performed using general anesthesia. The surgery may take two to five hours, depending on your overall condition. After surgery you may be released in a few hours, or you may desire an overnight stay.

Abdominoplasty is most commonly performed by making a U-shaped incision below one hipbone, across the pubic area, and under the other hipbone. A second incision is made around the navel. The skin is then separated from the abdominal wall and lifted up to the hipbone, exposing loose tissue covering the abdominal muscle.

Loose, stretched-out muscles are tightened with sutures, and excess skin and fat are removed. The skin is lowered over the abdomen and the navel is reconstructed. The incisions are then sutured together. Drains may be inserted to eliminate fluid buildup, and firm elastic bandages are applied to the area.

Recovery: What to Expect

Following surgery, you may experience some discomfort that can be controlled with medication. Some swelling is normal. You will be given special instructions for showering and changing your dressings. Most sutures used are self-dissolving. You may also be required to wear a support garment.

The speed of recovery depends on your physical condition prior to surgery; patients with stronger abdominal muscles usually recover faster. You should allow at least two to four weeks to recuperate before returning to work.

Some scarring is normal and usually takes nine to twelve months to fade.

Though the tummy-tuck recovery period is longer compared to other cosmetic procedures, the rewards are great for a patient previously distressed by a protruding abdomen. Patients who follow a proper exercise routine and healthy diet will benefit from abdominoplasty the most.