Tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure to remove excess fat and skin from the lower abdomen, while restoring weakened or separated abdominal muscles creating a tighter, firmer, and thinner abdominal profile. The number of tummy tucks performed annually in both men and women is on the rise.
Well over 100,000 of these procedures are performed annually in the United States (statistics provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2013).
We are all aware of changes that occur in our bodies that are often beyond our control. For many women, motherhood is a double-edged sword of blessing and frustration. Excess skin, stretch marks, and muscle laxity or bulging in the lower abdomen are often the unexpected side effects of becoming a mother. These conditions do not improve with better diet or more exercise leaving many women feeling less feminine and compensating for their unwanted curves with clothing that camouflages these extra "bulges". With the added pressure of feeling "vain" or "frivolous" about wanting to change these problem areas, many women find it difficult to even call and make a consultation, let alone discuss these concerns with their plastic surgeon.
At Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, our board certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Christopher Williams and Dr. Jeremy Williams, understand these very real concerns and take pride in carefully educating each patient about their options and empowering patients to make their own decisions in an informed manner. We recognize that a tummy tuck is a significant surgical procedure and is not the right choice for every patient, but for thousands of women each year a Tummy Tuck affords the opportunity to move from camouflage to confidence.
Tummy Tuck Incision Options
Is a Tummy Tuck Right for Me?
Abdominoplasty is a procedure for men or women with excess fat or loose lower abdominal skin that is resistant to diet or exercise. Women who are finished with childbearing and who have excess skin, fat or bulging in the lower abdomen are candidates for a tummy tuck. With pregnancy, the abdominal muscles will often separate causing bulging in the lower abdomen. Like excess skin and stretch marks, these stretched out muscles will not retighten with aggressive diet and exercise.
A tummy tuck corrects these concerns by tightening the abdominal muscles creating a firmer flatter abdomen and by removing the excess skin and fat creating a thinner abdominal profile. Liposuction is sometimes used in a conservative manner to assist with sculpting the waist line further. View our photos of Tummy Tuck in our Before & After Gallery.
For other patients, such as men with excess skin or fat, or those who have lost significant amounts of weight, a tummy tuck can be an option for tightening the abdomen. A tummy tuck can yield a flatter stomach and a shapelier waistline, which can enhance appearance and self-confidence. These results will be permanent only if the person maintains a sensible diet and participate in regular exercise.
Abdominoplasty is a good option if you are physically healthy and at a stable weight, you have realistic expectations, you are a non-smoker, and you are concerned about a tummy that feels too large. Our doctors will assist you in determining if a tummy tuck is right for you.
At Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, our Denver plastic surgeons are committed to providing you with not only the latest surgical advancements in tummy tuck surgery, but also a safe environment in which to have your surgery. Because a tummy tuck is a significant operation, some patients will desire to stay overnight at our state-of-the-art surgery center where they are cared for by our nursing staff.
Not only is Park Meadows Outpatient Surgery one of the state's only dedicated cosmetic surgical facilities that is both state licensed and The Joint Commission Accredited, but it is also licensed by the State of Colorado to care for patients overnight. Most patients can go home the same day as their surgery, but for others who may be combining another procedure with their tummy tuck or who desire a little more care, an overnight stay is a good option.
Some procedures can be combined with a tummy tuck such as breast enhancement procedures and limited liposuction. During your consultation, our doctors will discuss these possibilities with you and assist you in choosing a procedure that meets you goals. We are committed to the practice of evidence-based medicine where safety is a guiding principal and proven research shapes what is offered to each patient. In some instances, this may mean that only a tummy tuck is indicated for reasons related to safety and recovery. It is our privilege to walk each patient through this informative process of decision making so that an optimized result can be obtained.
Traditional (Full) Tummy Tuck
This is the best procedure for most patients as it addresses all three layers of the abdomen: skin, fat, and muscle. A traditional or full tummy tuck procedure exchanges a scar that is usually well concealed behind most bathing suits and underwear for a flatter, firmer and shapelier abdomen. Because the incision is slightly longer the upper and lower abdomen can be addressed creating a more sculpted appearance to the abdomen.
In a full tummy tuck, most of the excess skin between the belly button and the pubic region is removed. This procedure usually requires an additional incision around the belly button to reposition the belly button after excess skin is removed and tightened.
Although a tummy tuck leaves a scar, our plastic surgeons offer scar revision and reduction options if you wish to minimize its appearance. Innovative adhesive silicone sheets known as embrace® can be worn after surgery to dramatically reduce the appearance of your scar. The sheets work by stabilizing the skin, which prevents pulling and skin tension. By addressing the root cause of scars, embrace® is highly effective. It can also be combined with scar revision surgery.
A mini-tummy tuck is a smaller version of a full tummy tuck that addresses only mild amounts of excess skin and fat in the lower abdomen (below the belly button). The ideal candidate for this procedure is someone with a small amount of excess skin in the lower abdomen and tight abdominal musculature. This procedure usually has a slightly shorter scar, but the ability to sculpt and tighten the abdomen is more limited.
Types of Anesthesia for Surgery
At Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, you will have your surgical procedure performed in one of the only dedicated cosmetic surgery centers in Colorado that is both fully state-licensed and accredited by The Joint Commission. We are proud to care for your anesthesia needs with one of our board-certified anesthesiologists from South Denver Anesthesia. Our board-certified anesthesiologists will be with you, from beginning to end, insuring your comfort during the surgical procedure and general anesthesia.
Preparing for Surgery
At least 1 month prior to surgery
Stop smoking at least 1 month prior to your procedure. Smoking reduces circulation to the skin, impedes healing, and can lead to serious postoperative complications.
2 weeks prior to surgery
Stop all medications that can thin the blood 1-2 weeks prior to surgery. These include drugs such as Aspirin, Coumadin, Lovenox, Ibuprofen, Vitamin E, and multiple herbal preparations. These medications may cause bleeding during and after surgery. Please see the warning about blood thinning medications on our website for a list of drugs that must be stopped.
1 week prior to surgery
Report any sign of a cold or infection that appear the week prior to your surgery. You may need to postpone your procedure to avoid unnecessary complications. Make sure you fill all of your prescriptions provided to you by our doctors prior to your surgery day; this will make the transition from the surgery center to your home as smooth as possible.
The day before surgery
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery. This includes water, ice, or hard candy. The only exception is that you may take your blood pressure or heart medication with a sip of water the morning of surgery.
The day of surgery
Plan to wear loose fitting clothes to the procedure, preferrable with a zipper in the front. Do not wear jewelry or bring valuables with you, except for your ID and insurance card. You may wash your surgical site with regular soap the day before and morning of surgery. You must arrange to have a responsible adult drive you home after your procedure.
What to Expect on the Day of Surgery
When you arrive, you will be escorted to a preoperative evaluation area where you will be asked to change into a gown and will be given foot covers. Your surgeon and the anesthesiologist will meet with you before you enter the operating room suite. During this time, the surgical consent form will be reviewed with you in detail and special markings may be made on your skin at the surgical site. You will have the opportunity to ask any last minute questions.
Once in the operating room, you will be transferred to our padded operating room table. A nurse will start an intravenous drip in your arm and connect you to monitoring devices. The anesthesiologist will give you medication through your intravenous drip to make you feel drowsy.
When your surgery is completed and your dressings are in place, you will be moved to the recovery room. During this period a recovery room nurse will assure your comfort and continue to monitor you closely.
Your stay in the recovery room will last approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Most patients are fully awake within 30 to 60 minutes after their surgery, but they may not remember much about their time in the recovery room due to some of the anesthesia medication. Once you are ready for discharge, a postoperative appointment will be scheduled and your discharge instructions will be reviewed.
You must have a responsible adult drive you home from the surgery center. This individual should have your prescription filled at the hospital pharmacy prior to taking you home. A responsible adult must stay with you the first night after your surgery because you have been sedated.
Diet: Start with clear liquids and toast or crackers. If those are well tolerated, progress to a regular diet.
Driving: No driving for 1 to 2 weeks after your procedure or while taking pain medicine.
Activity: You may walk and climb stairs the day of surgery. Walk at least 3 times daily to decrease the risk of developing blood clots. It is recommended that you walk in a stooped or flexed position for the first week after surgery. After 4 weeks you may perform moderate activity, such as brisk walking. Do not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks you may resume more strenuous aerobic work and lifting activities.
Work: Depending on your career and your rate of healing you should be able to return to work within 2 to 3 weeks of surgery. Your surgeon will be able to give you a better estimate depending on your physical and professional profile.
Wound Care: Several drains will be placed during surgery to prevent excessive fluid build-up under the skin. These drains should be emptied three times a day. A compression garment will be placed during surgery and should remain in place 24 hours a day for the first two weeks. This garment can be unzipped on one side the evening of surgery and as needed during the first 2-3 days to allow the skin to "breathe" and to provide comfort. A second garment will be provided to you after all drainage tubes are removed (usually around 7-10 days after surgery) so that you may wash one garment while wearing the other. After two weeks the garment can be removed for short periods of time while showering but should otherwise be worn around the clock. After 3 weeks, many patients will only need to wear their garment during the daytime hours, though many patients prefer to continue wearing the garment around the clock. If your garment is causing significant discomfort be sure to contact your physician.
Swelling: Mild to moderate swelling and bruising should be expected during the first several weeks. Some swelling and fluid retention can persist for several months. Remember everyone heals at a different rate, and your surgeon will follow your progress closely. Do not use a heating pad on abdomen.
Bathing: You may shower 48 hours after surgery, but someone must be present with you to ensure that you are stable and do not become "light-headed". When you shower do not allow water to run or spray to hit directly over the incision site. Do not submerge the incision in a bath or swimming pool for 4 to 6 weeks.
Medications: Ask your surgeon when you can resume your blood thinning medications. All other prescription medications may be resumed immediately, as usual. While you are taking pain medicine, you are encouraged to follow a high fiber diet and take a stool softener such as Colace (available over the counter), as pain medications tend to cause constipation. Your surgeon may give you antibiotics for several days to help prevent infection.
Smoking and Alcohol: Absolutely no smoking or second hand smoke during the first 4 weeks after surgery as it impedes wound healing and can lead to serious wound complications. Alcohol consumption is dangerous while taking pain medicine and it has a tendency to worsen bleeding.
Post-Operative Appointment: Your first follow-up visit will be 1 week after surgery. Your surgeon will then schedule visits at appropriate intervals to monitor your progress.
Special Considerations: Call your surgeon immediately if you experience any of the following: pain not relieved by pain medicine, bleeding, redness at the incision site, or fever over 101°F.
You will see a noticeable difference in the shape of your body soon after surgery. However, it will take several months for all swelling to resolve, and your new contours to be fully appreciated. Your tighter and flatter stomach after tummy tuck can enhance your appearance and self-confidence. These results are generally long lasting if you follow a healthy diet and participate in regular exercise.
All surgical procedures involve some risks, such as the effects of anesthesia, bleeding, infection, pain, and swelling. There are also several possible complications specific to Tummy Tuck that occur in a very small percent of people. The tummy tuck is one the most common cosmetic procedures performed each year, and it can be done very safely. After reading the discussion below, please contact your surgeon if you have any remaining questions.
Bleeding: Bleeding is usually minimal and well-controlled during a Tummy Tuck.
Stop all blood thinning medications 2 weeks prior to surgery to decrease the risk of excessive bleeding.
Hematoma: A hematoma is a collection of blood under the skin. Hematomas may occur within the first few days after surgery or further out if the surgical site is traumatized. Small hematomas will resolve spontaneously and can be observed. Larger ones may require aspiration or drainage for optimal results.
Infection: Antibiotics will be given to you, prophylactically before surgery, and for several days after surgery to minimize the risk of infection. If an infection develops, it typically can be treated with different antibiotics. In some situations surgical debridement may be required. This can result initially in a larger scar, which may be revised at a later date.
Pain: Mild to moderate pain and discomfort is expected after surgery. You will be given a prescription for pain medication. If you have severe pain not relieved by pain medicine, contact your surgeon immediately.
Delayed Healing or Wound Separation: In some instances, the incision takes longer to heal than normal. Cigarette smoking, poor nutrition status and a compromised immune system can all increase the risk of delayed wound healing or separation.
Numbness: It is common to experience some numbness around your surgical site for the first few weeks. Numbness can be temporary or it may be permanent.
Dissatisfaction with Cosmetic Results: We strive to attain the aesthetic results you desire. Some people are not entirely satisfied with their results due to asymmetry, scar deformity, or hypertrophic (irregularly raised) scarring. Careful surgical planning and technique can minimize, but not always prevent, such results. If necessary, revisions can be made after the healing process is complete.
Blood Clots: Blood clots may form and travel to your lungs, resulting in severe injury or death. To decrease the risk of blood clots, boots that massage the lower leg will be placed on you during surgery. After the procedure you can decrease your risk of blood clots by walking 3 to 4 times daily. It is important to recognize that medical complications after a cosmetic procedure are often not covered by health insurance and can pose significant financial burdens.
Scarring: Your scars will actually appear somewhat worse over the first 3 to 6 months as the healing process occurs. You can expect your scars to thin and fade by the end of 12 months. However, your scars will never fade completely.
The Umbilicus: The umbilicus (belly button or navel) may have a changed appearance or location after the procedure.
To learn more about tummy tucks, contact Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery online or by phone at (720) 457-4471 to arrange a complimentary visit to our office in Lone Tree. Our board-certified plastic surgeons welcome patients in and around Denver, Colorado, and the surrounding areas, as well as out-of-town guests.