How Is a Tummy Tuck Done?

Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure that is done to improve the appearance of the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin and repairing damaged abdominal muscles if necessary.

The surgery involves several steps and the surgeon will normally go over these in detail with the patient before the procedure to help ease any pre-surgery anxiety.

Tummy Tuck Surgery Step By Step

Below you can see what happens during traditional or standard abdominoplasty surgery step by step.

Step 1: Anesthesia

General anesthesia is administered so the patient is asleep during the surgery.

Step 2: Incisions

The surgeon takes care to place the incisions in the most discreet locations possible. The number of incisions required and their length will depend on the type of tummy tuck being performed.

Step 3: Navel Repositioning & Enhancement

Sometimes it is necessary to reposition the belly button (navel) to produce natural-looking results. This may require moving the naval to another place or it may mean detaching the old naval and creating a new artificial naval which would require the expertise and skill of an artistic cosmetic surgeon.

Step 4: Muscle Repair

Sometimes the abdominal muscles that make up a body’s core strength, become loose, ripped, or separated due to multiple pregnancies or significant weight loss. These muscles can be lifted, tightened, and sutured together to create a more toned look, improve posture and ease back pain that patients may be experiencing.

Step 5: Liposuction

Liposuction is often done to eliminate unwanted fat deposits and to smooth out any issues before moving on to the next step.

Step 6: Loose Skin Is Eliminated

The excess skin is pulled taut in a downward motion and trimmed to fit the new contour. During this step, some stretch marks or old C-section scars may be trimmed off with the excess loose skin.

Step 7: Finishing Up With Sutures

At the completion of the surgery, surgical stitches will be used to hold the skin together. The surgeon inserts a special surgical drain at the incision below the skin which is used to help drain excess fluids and reduce the chance of infection. (The surgeon will remove this drain after a few weeks)

Step 8: Bandages and Compression

The surgeon will place surgical tape along the incision line as well as around the naval followed by a compression garment which will be worn for several weeks.

Drainless Tummy Tuck

A drainless abdominoplasty is the same for steps 1-6 and the difference between the traditional tummy tuck and the drainless is the way the surgery is completed. Instead of using traditional sutures with drains, special progressive tension sutures are used.

Progressive tension sutures differ from traditional sutures because they are done in strategically placed locations in layers to close the incision tightly while creating tension across the entire abdominal area.

When sutures are done this way, there is no need for temporary drains because the excess fluid does not build up, it is processed internally by the body’s lymphatic system.

There are many benefits of a drainless tummy tuck including:

  • Reduced aftercare;
  • Allowed to shower quicker;
  • Able to stand, walk or sit upright earlier;
  • Reduced scarring;
  • Recovery is more comfortable;
  • Less follow-up because drains do not need to be removed;
  • Wearing clothing is easier – drains have bulbs that are not easily hidden or secured under clothes.

After Tummy Tuck Surgery

Regardless of the technique used, you will need to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your surgeon to ensure you heal properly.

  • Typically, after a tummy tuck, your naval and incision line will be covered with a surgical dressing and you may have small tubes placed along the incision line that will require some maintenance unless you have had a drainless abdominoplasty. If you have drains, you may be given an antibiotic to help minimize the risk of infection.
  • Usually, before you are discharged to leave for home, the medical team will help you get up and move around a little to aid in blood circulation to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.
  • The surgeon will send you home with a prescription for pain medication to help ease your discomfort as you recover.
  • You will need to wear a special compression garment on your abdomen for about six weeks that will support the incision and help prevent excess fluid build-up. You will need to be careful to avoid quick movements or positions that will pull your incision line so you do not pull it apart.
  • You will need to attend all the follow-up appointments with your surgeon so they can monitor your progress and expediently address any issues if they arise.

A tummy tuck can be life-changing and bring you a renewed sense of confidence. The benefits of a tummy tuck extend beyond just aesthetics. You will look and feel better, your clothes will fit better and your core strength will be improved. It may eliminate the back pain you were experiencing and even help your posture. The results of abdominoplasty will be long-lasting provided you maintain a consistent weight and live a healthy lifestyle.

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