Tucson Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Surgery Information, Benefits and Risks.

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What is an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)?

An abdominoplasty, also called a tummy tuck, is a plastic surgery procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen and tightens the abdominal muscles. During the procedure the abdominal muscles are tightened and the skin from the belly button to the top of the pubic hairline is removed. There are a variety of options for abdominoplasty, including a full tummy tuck, a mini tummy tuck (removal of skin only and no repositioning of the belly button), and a combination of procedures that often includes liposuction.

When is an abdominoplasty used?

An abdominoplasty is best for people that are young, healthy and close to their ideal body weight. People that have the best results from an abdominoplasty are usually women with excess skin and fat from having children or patients with excess skin and fat from weight loss. People requesting an abdominoplasty as a weight reduction operation are not typically good candidates. Also, people who have not had children and have good skin with no stretch marks may be better candidates for liposuction because they only need the fat removed, not the extra skin. Liposuction of the flanks (the sides) and/or thighs is often added to the procedure to improve body contouring.

What is involved at a consultation for an abdominoplasty?

When you come in for your initial consultation, you will meet with both Dr. Maloney and Lindsay, the clinical coordinator. Dr. Maloney will examine you to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. He will also discuss details of the operation, show you before and after photos and answer any questions you may have. Lindsay will then review surgical fees, financing options and answer additional questions. If you choose to have surgery, you will return for another consultation about two weeks prior to your operation. At this second appointment, Dr. Maloney will review your surgical plan and go through consent forms. He will take pre-operative photographs and give you your prescriptions. Lindsay will then review all of your surgical instructions and give you a packet of information so when you leave you will have everything you need for surgery.

How do I prepare for an abdominoplasty?

After meeting with Dr. Maloney and choosing a surgical date for your abdominoplasty, you should plan for your care and recovery after the operation. You will need to arrange a ride to and from the surgery center the day of surgery and arrange for someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours. You should take 1-4 weeks off of work for this operation depending on the type of work you do (speak to Lindsay, Dr. Maloney’s Clinical Coordinator for additional information). If your employer requires paperwork for time off, please obtain it ahead of time and bring it to our office. If you smoke, you must quit a minimum of two weeks before surgery. We suggest 6-8 weeks, but two weeks is the minimum. Smokers heal slower and can have wound healing problems. If you smoke, this should be discussed with Dr. Maloney to see if your surgical plan needs to be adjusted. If you take aspirin or other medication that causes bleeding, you should stop taking it three weeks before surgery because it causes increased bleeding and therefore more bruising. If you are taking any diet pills (prescription or over-the-counter) or Metformin (a common diabetes medication), you should stop one week prior to surgery to avoid anesthesia risks. All medications, herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements you take should be carefully reviewed with Dr. Maloney prior to surgery. If you are under the care of a physician for any health issues, we may require surgical clearance from your physician and/or cardiologist.

At your pre-operative consultation with Dr. Maloney you will be given a map to the surgery center and your prescriptions. Get these prescriptions filled ahead of time so they are at home after surgery when you will need them. You should find a few old towels to put on your bed, the couch and in your friend’s car on the way home from surgery. You may notice some drainage on the dressings, especially if you have liposuction at the same time. Pick up some bags of frozen peas or corn to use as icepacks after your procedure. You need to stay hydrated, so have plenty of water or sports drinks around the house. You should mix sports drinks with water 50/50. You should also start taking a stool softener as narcotic pain medication and anesthesia can make you constipated.

The morning of surgery you may not have anything to eat or drink after midnight, this includes water. Take a shower using an antimicrobial soap over your entire body. Do not apply lotions, deodorant or make-up the day of surgery. Do not wear any jewelry to the surgery center. You should wear comfortable clothes that are easy to get on and off. A shirt that zips or buttons up the front is preferable, as are loose workout pants or sweat pants. Bring your photo ID when you check-in to the surgery center. You will be taken back to the pre-operating area where Dr. Maloney will come and discuss the plan again, answer any additional questions you have and mark the surgical site. You will also meet the anesthesiologist and ask him/her any questions you may have.

How is an abdominoplasty performed?

The operation takes about 3-4 hours depending on how much extra tissue you have that needs to be removed. The anesthesiologist will put you to sleep for this operation to ensure safety and comfort. Dr. Maloney will make an incision from roughly the hipbone across your abdomen just above your pubic hairline. This incision is similar to a C-section incision, only longer. The excess fatty tissue will be removed and your abdominal muscles tightened. A new hole is made for your bellybutton. The excess skin will be pulled tight and sutured into place. Drains, compression garment and pain pump will also be placed. You will wake up in the recovery room ready to go home in about an hour.

What should I expect after an abdominoplasty?

You will wear a compression garment over the surgical area to minimize swelling and bruising. It is normal to have some discharge of fluid from the incisions, especially if liposuction is performed at the same time. You should rest and eat a healthy diet high in protein to speed up recovery. All surgeons recommend early and frequent ambulation after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clot formation in the legs and to speed up recovery. You may be stiff and sore when you first get up and walk around. You may be swollen after surgery and walk bent over for a few days. It takes about 3-6 weeks to see your results, so be patient during the healing process. You will need to record the amount of fluid your drains are collecting. The nurses at the surgery center will show you how to do this. You may remove your dressings and shower 1-3 days after surgery depending on what our office tells you. You will also return to the office for your first post-operative exam 1-3 days after surgery. Your pain pump will be removed at this appointment. The pain pump is a small devise that drips a numbing medication along the abdominal muscles to keep you as comfortable as possible for the first few days. A low-grade fever is not uncommon after any operation. If you have any questions during the recovery phase, please do not hesitate to call our office any time, day or night.

What are the benefits of an abdominoplasty?

After the procedure your abdomen will be flat and tight with extra skin and fat removed.

What are the risks of an abdominoplasty?

An abdominoplasty has both aesthetic and health risks, and it is the patient’s personal decision whether the benefits outweigh those risks. Most patients have discomfort for a few weeks and otherwise heal uneventfully. Some patients may develop minor infections or healing problems that require antibiotics by mouth for a short period of time. There is a risk of blood clot formation in the leg with any operation and thus early and frequent ambulation is important. For a full list of risks, go to plasticsurgery.org.