Tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty helps patients to significantly reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen, loose skin, and stretch marks in the abdominal area. As one of the top five plastic surgery procedures, many people turn to a tummy tuck as a result of pregnancy, age or obesity when the muscles in the abdominal wall have weakened and weight loss cannot be achieved through diet or exercise.
How is the procedure performed
Tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure may be performed in a hospital where the surgeon has privileges or in an outpatient surgical center. The operating time is two to five hours, while mini tummy tucks are performed in around two hours.
The fundamental approach to a tummy tuck involves an extensive horizontal incision across the top of the pubic area. The skin will be separated from the abdominal wall. Then, excess skin and fat are removed. The tissue connecting the navel may be removed, a procedure that will alter the navel. Finally, the muscles are lifted, repositioned and sutured tightly together. The belly button is sutured in place.
How long is the recovery period?
The recovery period after a tummy tuck varies greatly from one patient to another, depending on several factors, but mainly on the level of fitness of each individual. Plastic surgeons provide for every patient a list of pre- and post-operative instructions, to reduce the risk of complications and shorten recovery period. For an optimal recovery the following conditions must be met:
- High quality pos-toperative care, a couple of days rest in a hospital, taking antibiotics and painkillers
- Respecting medical prescriptions to prevent the formation of blood clots, infections and excessive scarring
- Performing light exercises to increase the circulation and aid muscles recovery
Tummy tuck patients can usually return to work and participate in most normal activities within three weeks of surgery. Full recovery generally takes six months, when all swelling is gone and scar tissue is drastically reduced.
What risks am I facing?
In terms of complication tummy tuck surgery carries certain risks that patients should be aware of prior to seeking this cosmetic procedure. Relatively small risks are related both to the surgery and recovery process. Overall, less than five percent of all patients will experience complications. The most common complications include:
- poor reaction to anesthesia
- blood clots in the legs or lungs
- respiratory or heart complications
- excessive pain, tenderness, swelling, and bruising during recovery
- bleeding, umbilical necrosis, infections
- reaction to surgical sutures
- tick scar formation
In order to reduce these risks patients are advised to speak with their surgeon in advance to form realistic expectations about the surgery. Patients should also speak to their doctor about their full medical history, including current medication and supplement use. Patients who smoke or drink frequently should mention these issues too. Adhering to all post-surgical care instructions is also a good way of minimizing potential risks.
How expensive is a tummy tuck?
Tummy tuck costs vary among plastic surgeons. Factors relating to cost include: the geographic location of the surgeon, the type of facility used to perform the procedure, the technique, and the surgeon's experience with the procedure.
Tummy tuck costs are generally not covered by insurance, as they are considered strictly cosmetic in nature. However tummy tuck costs related to the repair of a hernia may be covered by insurance, alleviating some costs, but usually not covering the full price of the surgery.
A number of factors influence tummy tuck costs, including:
- facility fee
- cost of surgical instruments and anesthetics
- surgeon's fee
- price of pre- and post-operative consultations
- other necessary minor corrective treatments
Although the surgery is generally not cheap, patients are advised to consider besides price other details too, to make sure they will receive high quality medical care and will enjoy safe results.