Loose, sagging skin on the stomach can feel like a major blow to one’s self-confidence. Drooping skin, excess fat, stretch marks, and embarrassing bulges are unfortunate parts of the aging process for many people. In order to try to address these issues, people often start new exercise routines and go on diets. However, these methods are ineffective when it comes to losing stubborn midsection fat and tightening loose skin.
To restore a fit, sculpted stomach, the ideal choice is abdominoplasty surgery. A Tummy Tuck, also called an abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery procedure performed at Dr. Donna Rich’s Houston plastic surgery office to remove excess skin and fat, tighten the abdominal muscles and provide a flatter and narrower abdomen.
Causes Of A Sagging Stomach
Excess skin that hangs from the abdomen is often the result of dramatic weight loss. When a person gains weight, their skin must stretch and grow in order to accommodate this new volume. Once the weight is lost, the skin will need to shrink back down to fit the new reduced curves of the body. However, skin with moderate to poor skin elasticity is much less able to shrink down. Instead, this excess skin sags from the body and can only be removed with the help of a surgical procedure.
One major cause of loose abdominal muscle tissue is pregnancy. As a fetus grows, the mother’s uterus must also grow. When this occurs, the uterus begins to push against the mother’s abdominal wall, exerting a great deal of pressure on the muscles. They loosen and spread apart. After childbirth, the uterus shrinks back down to its usual size, but the abdominal muscles are left loose and sagging. This manifests in the form of abdominal bulges. Internal sutures are used to correct this during a tummy tuck.
Pregnancy and weight gain can also create stretch marks as the skin stretches. Additionally, hormonal changes and one’s genes are causes of stubborn abdominal fat and loose skin tissue.
Good Candidates For A Tummy Tuck Procedure
Houston men and women who are in good health and within normal weight for their height, with sagging skin and tissue on the abdomen, loose abdominal muscles, and/or stretch marks, are appropriate candidates for an abdominoplasty.
Patients with excess fat in the abdominal area are also candidates for a liposuction procedure. However, liposuction will not tighten the underlying muscles, reduce loose skin, or eliminate stretch marks; the primary goal of liposuction is simply to reduce pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise.
During your private consultation, Dr. Rich will review both options and discuss the anticipated anesthesia, potential risks, and your expected recovery. Dr. Rich’s plastic surgery office is located in Webster, TX, convenient to Houston, Galveston, Clear Lake, and Pearland. During your tummy tuck consultation, a thorough history will be taken, and an examination of your abdomen will be performed to confirm that an abdominoplasty is the correct surgical procedure for you. You will be able to discuss your aesthetic needs and goals with Dr. Rich, who will address any questions or concerns you may have regarding the operation. You will also have the opportunity to look at Before & After photos in order to better understand the results of the procedure.
Two Types Of Abdominoplasty
A Complete Abdominoplasty is for maximum correction. A horizontal incision, which will be hidden by a bikini bottom or panties, is made low on the abdomen at the level of the pubic hair and extending to the sides of the abdomen. The abdominal muscles are tightened with stitches, and as the muscles of the abdomen are rejoined and strengthened, a firm abdominal wall is restored. Excess fat and tissue are removed. The skin is then tightened and trimmed and carefully redraped, and a new belly button is created at a higher position on your now-tighter abdomen.
Judicious liposuction may also be performed to perfect the final look. This is done through the use of a cannula, a plastic tube with a sharp end. The sharp end is used to break up the stubborn fat deposits. The cells can then be easily carried out of the body through the tube via medical suction.
Once the changes have been made to the tissues of the region, the incision can be sealed using medical sutures. A dressing is applied in order to protect the area from outside contaminants, and a compression garment is placed around the patient’s stomach. Depending on the amount of correction needed, drains may also be inserted.
A Mini Abdominoplasty is performed on patients who require only lower abdominal wall correction, in the “pouch” area of the belly. The scar is placed in the same location as in the Complete Abdominoplasty, but the upper abdomen is not treated. A shorter incision is usually used, since not as much change is needed. Typically, the belly button will not be affected during this procedure. The Mini Abdominoplasty is an excellent choice for men and women without significant upper abdomen laxity or stretch marks. Because it is a less-invasive procedure than the Complete Abdominoplasty, it requires a shorter recovery period.
You and Dr. Rich will have determined whether you need a Complete Abdominoplasty or a Mini Abdominoplasty at your consultation.
How An Abdominoplasty Procedure Is Performed
A tummy tuck procedure is performed in Dr. Rich’s office-based accredited operating suite under general anesthesia according to the descriptions above.
What To Expect After A Tummy Tuck Procedure
Following your tummy tuck procedure, you will notice a degree of post-surgical swelling and bruising in the abdominal region. This is to be expected after any surgery and is a natural process for tissue healing. In order to help ameliorate these issues, you will need to apply cold compresses and wear a compression garment around the area during your healing process.
After surgery, you will have several drainage tubes in the abdominal region. These plastic drains help to remove excess blood and fluid from the surgical site in order to avoid the formation of medical complications known as hematomas and seromas. Before surgery you will be shown how to record the drainage twice each day. The drainage tubes will be removed once the total drainage is less than 30cc/day. Once the drainage tubes are out, you may take a shower.
The compression garment will stay on for approximately 3-4 weeks. You will be uncomfortable for several days following your tummy tuck. Most patients find it most comfortable to walk in a bent-over position, and to sleep with a pillow beneath their knees. Dr. Rich will prescribe pain medicine and antibiotics prior to your procedure.
Activity, including sitting and progressive ambulation in a flexed position, is encouraged. However, you should refrain from lifting or any other strenuous activity for at least 4-6 weeks after your procedure. Full activity is achieved at 2-3 weeks post-operatively. Suture removal begins at 10-14 days after surgery. Dr. Rich will see you every week for the first month.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
Anyone who is healthy, does not smoke, is within 10 to 15 pounds of their ideal weight, and has excess skin and abdominal wall laxity is a candidate for an abdominoplasty.
What is the difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction?
An abdominoplasty corrects excess skin, tightens the abdominal wall, narrows the waist, and contours the upper abdomen, waist, and hips. Liposuction only contours or removes fat but does not necessarily tighten the skin, so if the patient has excess skin, poor elasticity, or striae, they usually are not candidates for liposuction alone.
How long should I take off work?
Most patients can return to work within 10 to 14 days, depending on their job. The healing process varies from patient to patient, and different jobs involve differing amounts of physical activity. If you are feeling ready to come back to work, it is best to check in with your doctor before doing so.
How long will the drains stay in?
The drains usually remain for one week.
How long will I be swollen?
Swelling is patient dependent. Most patients will see the final results within several months. It is very important to exercise and to maintain your new healthy lifestyle in order to maintain the results of the abdominoplasty procedure.
If you have questions about an abdominoplasty at our Houston plastic surgery practice, please call our office at (281) 286-1000 or complete our discreet online form for your cosmetic surgery consultation. Visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest information about Houston cosmetic surgery options and developments!
We look forward to seeing you in the near future so you can see the “new you” in your near future!