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Tummy Tuck with Muscle Repair and Abdominal Liposuction

A tummy tuck — also known as abdominoplasty — is a cosmetic surgical procedure to improve the appearance of and tighten the skin of the abdomen. It involves surgically repairing the lax muscles and removing the excess fat with liposuction. The belly button is repositioned as the skin above and below it is pulled tight revealing the smooth, flat tummy of your youth.

Are you a candidate for a tummy tuck?

A flabby abdomen is caused not only by the accumulation of fat, but also by the poor elasticity of the skin, excess skin, and the stretching of the inner girdle of connective tissue (abdominal fascia) and abdominal muscles that extends from the ribs to the pubic bone. This inner girdle, which holds the internal organs in place, is responsible for the tone and appearance of the abdomen.

Your abdomen is more likely to protrude after your abdominal fascia has been stretched during pregnancy or after significant changes in your weight. A tummy tuck can remove loose, excess skin and fat, and tighten weak fascia. A tummy tuck can also remove stretch marks and excess skin in the lower abdomen below the bellybutton. However, a tummy tuck won't correct stretch marks outside of this area.

If you've previously had a C-section, your plastic surgeon might be able to incorporate your existing C-section scar into your tummy tuck scar.

A tummy tuck can also be done in combination with other body contouring cosmetic procedures, such as breast surgery, for something commonly referred to as a “mommy makeover”.

What to expect during surgery

During a tummy tuck, excess skin and fat are removed from the abdomen. In most cases, the connective tissues in the abdomen are tightened with sutures as well. The remaining skin is then repositioned to create a more toned look.

Your plastic surgeon will make incisions to remove most of the skin and fat between your bellybutton and pubic hair in a horizontal oval or elliptical shape. The fascia, which overlies the abdominal muscles, will be tightened with permanent sutures. Your plastic surgeon will then reposition the skin around your bellybutton. Your bellybutton will be brought out through a small incision and sutured in its normal position. The incision from hip to hip above the pubic hair will be stitched together and will leave a scar that falls along the natural crease within the bikini line.

During the procedure you might be given an antibiotic to prevent infection.

The procedure typically takes about three hours.

After a tummy tuck, your abdominal incision and your bellybutton will likely be covered with surgical dressing. Small tubes might be placed along the incision site to drain any excess blood or fluid.

Post surgery and recovery

You'll likely feel moderate pain, which will be controlled by pain medication. It's normal to have swelling in the surgical area for about six weeks. In some cases, swelling might take up to three months to resolve. Drains might be left in place for several days after surgery. Your doctor or a member of your health care team will show you how to empty and care for your drains. You might need to continue taking an antibiotic as long as the drains are in place. Your surgeon also might prescribe an anticoagulant for several days after your tummy tuck.

You'll wear a supportive abdominal garment (abdominal binder) for about six weeks after your tummy tuck. This will help prevent fluid buildup and provide abdominal support while you heal. Your doctor will explain how to care for your scar.

For the first six weeks after a tummy tuck, you'll need to take care when moving and avoid positions that strain your incision line — such as quickly bending at the waist — to prevent the reopening of the wound.

By removing excess skin and fat and restoring your abdominal wall, a tummy tuck can give your abdomen a more toned appearance. Tummy tuck results are usually long lasting. Keep in mind that maintaining a stable weight is crucial for retaining your results.