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Alternative Names Return to topCosmetic surgery of the abdomen; Tummy tuck; Abdominoplasty
Definition Return to top
Abdominal wall surgery is surgery that improves the appearance of flabby, stretched-out abdominal (belly) muscles and skin. It is often called a "tummy tuck." It can range from a simple “mini-tummy tuck” to more complicated, extended surgery.
It is not the same as liposuction, another way to remove fat. But abdominal wall surgery is sometimes combined with liposuction.
Description Return to top
Your surgery will be done in an operating room in a hospital. You will receive general anesthesia. This will make you unconscious and unable to feel pain during the procedure. The surgery takes 2 to 6 hours. You can expect to stay in the hospital for 1 to 3 days after surgery.
After you receive anesthesia, your surgeon will make an incision (cut) across your abdomen to open up the area. This incision will be just above your pubic area.
Your surgeon will remove fatty tissue and loose skin from the middle and lower sections of your abdomen to make it firmer and flatter. In extended surgeries, the surgeon also removes excess fat and skin (“love handles”) from the sides of the abdomen. Your abdominal muscles may be tightened also.
Your surgeon will close your incision with sutures (stitches). Your surgeon may insert small flat tubes called drains to allow fluid to drain out of your incision. These will be removed later.
A firm elastic dressing (bandage) will be placed over your abdomen.
For a less complicated surgery, your surgeon may use medical devices called endoscopes. Endoscopes are tiny cameras that are inserted into the skin through very small incisions. They are connected to a video monitor in the operating room that allows the surgeon to see the area being worked on. Your surgeon will remove excess fat with other small tools that are inserted through other small incisions. This surgery is called endoscopic surgery.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Most of the time, the surgery is called “elective” or “cosmetic” surgery because it is something you choose to have. It is not usually needed for health reasons. Cosmetic abdomen repair can help improve appearance, especially after a lot of weight gain or loss. It helps flatten the lower abdomen and tighten stretched skin.
It may also help relieve skin rashes or infections that happened under large flaps of skin.
Abdominoplasty can be helpful when:
Abdominoplasty is not used as a way to lose weight.
Risks Return to top
The risks for any anesthesia are:
The risks for any surgery are:
Risks of abdominoplasty are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
Before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
After the Procedure Return to top
You will have some pain and discomfort for several days after surgery. Your doctor will prescribe pain medicine to help you manage your pain. It may help to rest with your legs and hips bent during recovery to reduce pressure on your abdomen.
Wearing an elastic support similar to a girdle for 2 to 3 weeks will provide extra support while you heal. You should avoid strenuous activity and anything that makes you strain for 4 weeks. You will probably be able to return to work in 2 to 4 weeks.
You will need to schedule a visit with your doctor to have your stitches removed.
Your scars will become flatter and lighter in color over the next 3 to 6 months. Do not let the sun shine directly on your incision. Keep it covered when you are out in the sun.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Most people are happy with the results of abdominoplasty. Many feel a new sense of self-confidence.
References Return to top
Burns JL, Blackwell SJ. Plastic surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 73.Update Date: 2/7/2009 Updated by: George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.