For many people, getting rid of extra fat, especially around the tummy, can be very difficult. When diet, exercise and supplements don’t do the trick, a surgical procedure may be the only option. Liposuction and abdominoplasty (often called a “tummy tuck”) can help sculpt your midsection and finally give you the flat stomach you’ve been dreaming of. Read on to learn more about what to expect from the initial consultation all the way through recovery.
First, we will sit down with you to determine if you are a good candidate. This includes a thorough review of your medical history to ensure any medical problems are well-controlled. If you have health problems, you are not necessarily ruled out for the procedure so long as the conditions are being treated and are under control. Smokers generally aren’t good candidates for the procedure, and we ask smokers to quit tobacco for three months before and after the surgery. We will also check for hernias. If a hernia is present we ask that you consult a general surgeon who may need to be present during the procedure to help repair any existing hernias prior to the tummy tuck.
Next, we determine if the procedure will meet your needs. During the examination process, we’ll take a look at how much excess skin you have. If the amount is minimal, liposuction alone could be the best solution. Often, liposuction can be done right here in the office with light sedation, and is a very simple walk-in, walk-out procedure.
After the initial consultation, we’ll invite you back for a second preoperative “teaching” appointment. This is when we provide you with any prescriptions you may need after the surgery, and teach you about postoperative care and recovery. We will also take some “before” photos to compare to the “after” results.
For a tummy tuck, you will be under general anesthesia, which means you are completely asleep for the entire procedure. The surgeon will make markings on your abdomen before surgery to help plan where he or she will make the incisions. You will be given an antibiotic through an IV. We will also place boots over your calves to massage and promote healthy circulation in your legs. The surgery itself takes about two-and-a-half-to-three hours. After that, you will go to a “recovery room” and spend another hour and a half or so there until you are released to go home.
Risks and Complications
The most common complication associated with tummy tucks are collections of fluid called seromas. We will send you home with drainage tubes to help prevent this. Irregular scarring is another potential complication, but is far less common. We are able to strategically make incisions that sit below the waistline and can be hidden while wearing swimsuits. Blood clots in the leg are one of the most severe complications, so we take extra steps to prevent this from happening.
Unfortunately, a tummy tuck is one of the most uncomfortable cosmetic surgeries we provide. This is because it involves longer incisions and repairing muscles in the abdomen. One of the biggest improvements to the recovery process from a tummy tuck is a new injectable medicine called Exparel. It is a long-lasting numbing medicine, or local anesthetic, that we use on patients before they are sent home. The medication can help numb the abdomen for up to 72 hours following the surgery. Typically, patients experience the most pain within the first few days, but we’ve noticed this can be significantly reduced with Exparel.
We encourage our patients to take a two-week break from exercise and work if possible. If you have the ability to work from home, most patients can within a couple of days. Simple tasks such as getting around can be a much slower process for at least the first week or two. We recommend avoiding any strenuous exercise for at least four-to-six weeks. Once you’re at home, you can feel free to get up, walk around and take deep breaths.
Check out these before and after pictures of our abdominoplasty and liposuction patients.