What is a Tummy Tuck?
Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to improve the contour and appearance of the abdomen by repairing the muscles of the abdominal wall and taking out excess skin and fat.
Who needs a Tummy Tuck?
Common causes leading to abdominal deformities are pregnancy, weight fluctuations, ageing or the combination of the above.
Almost every woman requires this procedure after pregnancy. Although pregnancy and childbirth are a very special time, they do take a toll on a woman’s body. Hormonal surges commonly increase appetite and lead to cravings accompanied by weight gain. As the baby grows, it stretches both the skin and the muscles of the abdominal wall. Anatomically, the Rectus Abdominis muscles, which form the coveted “six pack”, are enclosed and interconnected by fascia.
During pregnancy, the increasing pressure within the tummy stretches this fascia, resulting in separation of the rectus muscles – rectus diastasis, or even defects in the fascia – hernias. The latter are common around the belly button or at previous scar sites.
Weight gain during pregnancy may cause diet-resistant fat deposits, resulting in the much hated “love handles”. After birth, the loose skin on the tummy is unlikely to retract. The tummy is left with a typical skin roll and a bulge. Tummy tuck may be performed on its own or as part of the Mommy Make-over.
Similar changes occur with weight fluctuations. Weight gain leads to increased fat deposits not only under the skin, but also inside the abdomen. This leads to increased intra-abdominal volume and pressure which stretches the abdominal wall creating Rectus muscle diastasis and/or hernias.
This may be followed by weight loss, achieved either by conventional measures or bariatric surgery (surgery for weight loss, such as gastric bypass, banding, etc). As a result, the volume of fat decreases leaving stretched skin and abdominal wall. Diet and exercise resistant fat deposits are also common in certain areas, e.g. “love handles”, “muffin tops”, etc.
The ageing process is unrelenting. It results in gradual loss of collagen and elastin in the skin, resulting in loose skin. Lower abdomen is a common place for loose skin rolls in both men and women. This unsightly problem commonly prompts them to request abdominal skin tightening.
During this consultation, Dr. Grubnik will examine you and discuss your goals and desires.
Depending on the type of abdominal deformity, surgery may range from a “mini” tummy tuck where only the lower abdominal bulge is repaired and lower abdominal skin roll is taken out, to a “full” tummy tuck where the skin is lifted, belly button is repositioned and the full length of rectus diastasis is repaired. Abdominal hernias may be repaired at the same time.
How is the procedure performed?
The surgery is performed in theatre under general anaesthetic and takes approximately two hours. The type of procedure performed is specifically tailored to your type of abdomen and aesthetic desires. This will be discussed with you during the pre-operative consultation.
Where will the scars be?
The scar is positioned in the lower abdomen and designed to be hidden in your preferred underwear or bikini lines. It may be the size of your C-section scar for “mini” tummy tuck, or extend from one hip bone to the other for a “full” tummy tuck. The exact size and position of the scar will be discussed with you during the pre-surgical consultation.
Once all the wounds have healed, Dr. Grubnik will advise you on a scar management regimen that you need to follow to ensure that the scars are as inconspicuous as possible.
What to expect after surgery?
You will be in hospital one to two nights. Both Dr. Grubnik and her anaesthetist will ensure that you are pain free after the surgery. You will have dressings on the wounds. You will have drains (small silicone pipes) placed during the surgery and coming out through the skin of the pubis. You will be in the “lounge chair” position with knees and hips slightly bent. You will also be asked to walk slightly bent at the waist. This is important to relive the pressure on the abdominal wound closure. During the first week, you can gradually straighten up, being mindful of the tension. All stitches are dissolvable and do not need to be removed. After the surgery, you will be asked to wear a special post-surgical garment for six weeks. Dr. Grubnik will see you at weekly intervals to check the wounds and determine when the drains can be removed.
How long is the recovery time?
Recovery time is three to four weeks. It is recommended to refrain from driving for 10 days to two weeks after the procedure. Sport and strenuous physical activity can only be resumed after six weeks. Dr. Grubnik will discuss the specific recovery timeline best suited for you.
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