FAQ: Tummy Tuck Surgery

tummy

Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck Surgery)

Contemporary fashions and increasingly active lifestyles have amplified our awareness of the size and shape of our bodies, as has greater understanding of the link between weight and health. Consequently, in the Bay Area, “tummy tuck” surgery is an ever-more popular means of enhancing one’s figure. Although recent media attention has focused on liposuction as the leading method of body contouring, abdominoplasty remains the preferred surgical solution for treating excess abdominal skin and weak musculature.

What is the source of problems in the abdominal area?

The three primary enemies of smooth, toned abdomens are pregnancy, weight gain and loss, and age. Essentially, rapid weight gain or loss strains the skin—and sometimes even the abdomen’s core muscles—beyond its original, firm shape. Abdominoplasty restores the tummy’s contours by removing excess skin and tightening muscles. Liposuction, on the other hand, simply removes excess fat.

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What are the specifics of the abdominoplasty procedure?

First, Dr. Mosser makes an incision, usually along the lower abdomen and upper thighs (“bikini line”). Next, he lifts the skin of the abdominal region, removes surplus fat and tightens the abdominal muscles. Finally, the skin is pulled down and any excess is removed. Sometimes, the patient’s navel will need to be repositioned to accommodate a firmer tummy. Following surgery, a bandage is applied to provide abdominal support. Click here for a more in-depth description of abdominoplasty in San Francisco.

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What conditions require tightening of the abdominal muscles?

Abdominoplasty is often indicated following pregnancy. One of the body’s primary muscle girdles is the rectus abdominis, the area that allows us to perform movements like sit-ups. Comprised of two parts, these muscles are contiguous from the breast bone to the pubic bone, forming an internal restraint system that holds the tummy firmly in. During pregnancy, these muscles split to allow the baby to grow. Following birth, these muscles often stay separated, making it impossible to firm the lower abdomen through exercise, diet or other nonsurgical means. During abdominoplasty, this condition, called diastasis recti, is treated by bringing these muscles back together, restoring their strength and tone.

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Is it possible to remove stretch marks with an abdominoplasty?

Stretchmarks, or “prune belly,” are the bane of many patients’ existence. Depending on the distribution of the marks across the abdominal skin, many, if not all of these marks, can be removed during an abdominoplasty. Typically, much of the lower abdominal skin is removed during the procedure, the exact place where stretchmarks tend to be concentrated.

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Can scars in the abdominal region, such as those from Cesarean sections or appendicitis, be corrected during surgery?

Old scars can often be removed as part of a standard abdominoplasty, without additional complication.

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I’m not fat, but my lower tummy sticks out. Am I still a good candidate for a tummy tuck?

Protruding, rounded abdomens are a common problem, particular among thin, athletic women who’ve borne children. In these cases, a “mini”-tummy tuck is indicated. A much simpler procedure than a traditional abdominoplasty, the mini requires a smaller incision, and therefore a faster recovery.

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I have extra fat in the abdominal region, but my skin is still smooth and has good tone. Am I a candidate for abdominoplasty?

In such cases, you may be a candidate for liposuction alone. Although some liposuction is performed in many abdominoplasties, liposuction alone may or may not solve your problems. Only an in-office consultation and examination can answer this question.

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After losing a lot of weight my tummy hangs out. Can you fix this?

First of all, congratulations on your weight loss! Men and women who’ve suffered obesity and lost weight often possess a large “apron” of skin and fat on the abdomen. Thankfully, this condition can be corrected with an abdominal lipectomy, a procedure which removes not only surplus tummy skin, but also “love handles” and excess back flesh.

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How painful is abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasties are performed while the patient is under general anesthesia, so there’s no discomfort during the surgery. Following the procedure, most patients take pain medications for only 5-7 days. One of our primary goals during surgery is to keep you comfortable afterwards; we do everything possible to minimize soreness. In San Francisco, abdominoplasty is very common and not considered a particularly painful operation.

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What is the standard recovery time for tummy tuck surgery?

Most patients spend just one day in the hospital following surgery. Although athletic activity is limited for 4-6 weeks, many patients return to work in 7-10 days.

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What are the possible risks and complications of abdominoplasty?

As with any surgery, risks exist. Bleeding, infection and scarring may occur. Occasionally, fluid collects, or a small patch of skin at the incision line is lost. Very rarely, patients experience abdominal pain that last longer than the usual period, or blood clots form in the leg. Remember: this information is intended to help you make an informed decision. Prior to surgery, we will discuss the full range of risks with you. Although abdominoplasty is considered a very safe procedure, all decisions regarding surgery should be carefully made.

Dr. Mosser is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon specializing in tummy tuck surgery in San Francisco. If you have any further questions about abdominoplasty or wish to schedule a consultation, please contact us.