Tummy Tuck: Reducing Excess Paunch

After countless crunches and too many diets to count, you’ve lost all the weight you can. And yet, that stubborn tummy won’t budge. What can you do when you’ve got an excess paunch from weight loss or pregnancy that can’t be removed through regular diet and exercise? To flatten that abdomen, ask your surgeon about abdominoplasty.

More commonly known as the tummy tuck, abdominoplasty is the major cosmetic surgery procedure that removes excess skin and fat while tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall. A partial abdominoplasty, or a mini tuck, targets only the lower abdomen and is generally a shorter procedure than a full tummy tuck. A full tuck focuses on the entire abdominal area and is more invasive, and can often involve liposuction as well. Both men and women benefit from this procedure, and while the surgery is considered major and extensive, the results can have a major impact on self-esteem, confidence and body-image.

The tummy tuck procedure lasts from three to five hours while patients are under general anesthetic. The procedure begins with a long incision made from hip bone to hip bone, and another up the abdomen to remove the navel from its surrounding tissue. In a mini-tuck dealing with only the lower abdomen, the belly button will not be affected. Skin is then separated from the abdominal wall to reveal the underlying muscles and tissues all the way to the ribs. The surgeon then draws the muscle and tissue together by stitching them in place, which then strengthens the abdominal wall and narrows the waistline.

Commonly, one of many liposuction techniques will be performed at the same time to remove excess fat from the area and sometimes the hips and haunches. The skin is then drawn down, where the excess is removed and a new hole is cut for the navel. The incision is then closed with sutures and bandaged, and a temporary tube may be inserted to help excess fluids drain.

The average cost for abdominoplasty varies according to whether the procedure is a full tummy tuck or a partial tuck. Expect costs to range between $6000 and $8000, but be sure to ask what the fees will be for anesthetic, hospital time and post-surgery care products.

Recovery from major surgery takes time and patience. Some patients are able to leave the hospital the same day as their tummy tuck surgery, but others may spend up to two days in the hospital. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication to keep you comfortable.

Initially, tummy tuck patients will be sore and unable to bend, sit, lift or move without some help, but it is recommended that you walk as soon as possible. Planning your recovery in advance and having post-surgery support from a loved one can help simplify and speed the recovery process.

Your incisions and suture areas will be bandaged and your surgeon will recommend the use of a support or compression garment to help skin heal and aid the body to reabsorb fluids for up to four weeks. Surface stitches are typically removed within one week, while underlying stitches in the abdominal muscle may dissolve or be removed in four weeks.

Incision scars will eventually flatten and lighten in color, usually within one year, however; you will have permanent scarring which can generally be hidden by undergarments and bathing suits.

There is a large risk involved in invasive surgical procedures, and anyone considering plastic surgery should consult with a qualified and experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. The specific risks associated with the tummy tuck include bleeding, blood clots and infection. While these symptoms are not common, they are present in a small percentage of patients.

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