Women who come to our Honolulu, Hawaii practice for tummy tuck surgery each have their own reasons for wanting to enhance their body. A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a procedure where excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen is removed to help create an abdominal profile that is smoother, firmer and smaller. It is not a weight loss technique; although the tissue removed may weigh several pounds or more. Instead, it is a contouring procedure that is performed to return you to a smoother, flatter, better shaped tummy.
This procedure is performed in a certified operating suite with either intravenous sedation or more commonly general anesthesia. The incisions that are used require the creation of a fairly long scar in the same place as a C Section scar either right on top of the pubic hairline or just inside the hairline. Unlike a c-section scar, the incision may go all the way out to the hips depending on the degree of correction necessary. This incision is typically placed low enough to be hidden within most clothes and bathing suits. A small incision around your belly button is also needed to allow your belly button to stay in its normal position while the upper abdominal skin and fat is moved to a lower position on your abdomen. A new window is made in the abdominal skin to place your belly button in its normal position. This scar is nearly imperceptible.
Through these two incisions, excess skin and fat is removed. If necessary we can also repair weakened abdominal muscles. These muscles may be separated from pregnancy and sutures are used to bring the muscles back together and give your waistline even more definition. While you will not see the muscle repair or sutures because it is underneath, you will feel a tightening from the top of your abdomen all the way down to the bottom of your abdomen.
It is important to work closely with your plastic surgeon. Be prepared to discuss your expectations and desired outcome. Make sure all of your questions and concerns are addressed. Aspirin, Motrin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and some over-the-counter herbal medications must be discontinued at least 2 weeks prior to surgery. These and other drugs and substances may cause excess bleeding and bruising. You can usually begin taking them again after a week or so. Your plastic surgeon will discuss this in detail with you and you will also be given a sheet with a list of common medicines to avoid for a short period. Your plastic surgeon will detail the risks associated with surgery.
Following your surgery, bandages will be applied to your incisions. In addition, you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or required to purchase a compression garment to minimize swelling and to support your abdomen as it heals. Two small drains may be placed temporarily to drain any excess fluid or blood that may collect. You will be given specific instructions on how to care of your incisions and drains, including any medications that you may need to take. Your plastic surgeon’s office will arrange your follow-up. Drains are typically removed after one to 2 weeks. For most plastic surgeons, there are no sutures to remove. It is most common to use absorbable sutures which melt on their own within a few months. You can shower the next day after your procedure but should stay out of the ocean or pool for a week or so. Moderate swelling and bruising can last up to 2 weeks, but complete resolution of swelling may take much longer. It is important to avoid strenuous activity for 2-3 weeks after surgery to avoid bleeding complications. If you had a muscle tightening procedure, you may be asked to avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks. Most patients are able to drive after a few days and can return to office work after a week.