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All About Tummy Tuck

Introduction to Tummy Tuck


Tummy Tuck, also known as Abdominoplasty, is a procedure to remove excess skin, to tighten loose muscle, and to thin out the waistline to restore the abdomen to its youthful pre-pregnancy form.  If you or your friend are considering Tummy Tuck or if you are only interested in more information about the procedure, please call us at (714) 500-0050 for a consultation with Dr. Luu Doan.  You can also email us by clicking here to schedule a consultation or to get answers to any of your questions regarding the procedure.


Today's society places strong emphasis on a slender, youthful appearance of the abdomen. This is especially true in the warm and sunny climate of Southern California, where fashion trends often focus on the midriff area. This poses a particular problem for women who, after childbirth or significant weight loss, have a flabby, stretched-out abdomen and highly visible stretch marks. The effects of pregnancy and extreme weight loss on a woman’s body can be devastating.  It can cause excess overhanging skin and fat, extensive stretch marks, looseness of the abdominal muscles, and stretching or protrusion of the belly button.  Because the abdominal skin has lost its elasticity, it cannot return to its original state. No matter how often these women exercise, how carefully they follow weight loss programs, or how routinely they apply commercial creams and lotions, the redundant skin never goes away.


Tummy Tuck is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat of the central and lower abdomen for optimal contouring.  It also involves tightening of the abdominal muscles for a flatter contour and liposuction of the love handles (flanks) for a thinner, hourglass waistline. 


The Tummy Tuck Surgery


The Tummy Tuck surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia in our medicare-accredited, state-of-the-art Newport Coast Surgical Center.  The operation takes approximately 1 ½  to 2 hours and the patient is monitored by an anesthesiologist throughout the procedure.


The Tummy Tuck procedure involves an incision that goes across the lower abdomen from hip bone to hip bone in most cases.  The incision is taken below any existing c-section or hysterectomy scar.  The length of the incision is determined by the amount of excess, overhanging skin that needs to be removed. The upper abdominal skin is elevated and the underlying abdominal muscles tightened with sutures.  The skin is pulled downwards and the excess skin is removed (C).  The remaining skin is sutured across the lower abdomen (D).  A new umbilicus is reconstructed using the existing umbilicus.  Liposuction is then performed in the flanks to better contour the waistline.    Drainage tubes are placed through the lateral incision to drain excess blood and fluid for 7 to 10 days before being removed in the office.


Only a thorough and candid discussion between you and Dr. Doan can determine the best options for you.  Doctor Doan will discuss with you in detail every step of the procedure and he will review with you the possible complications of the operation. 


Recovery From Tummy Tuck Surgery


You will likely feel achy pain in your abdomen for several days after the surgery.  You should be up and about the next day to prevent blood clots from developing in the veins of the legs.  You will likely be walking a little hunched over for about a week due to the tightening of the abdominal muscles.  You will be prescribed medication to control the pain, nausea, and possible abdominal muscle spasms.  You will also be prescribed antibiotic pills to prevent infection.  You will need to wear an abdominal girdle for six weeks after the surgery.  The sutures are absorbable and do not need to be removed.  The drainage tubes will be removed at 7 to 10 days after surgery.  Most women will be able to return to work in two weeks and will be able to return to their normal exercise routine by six weeks. Complete healing with resolution of the swelling takes 3 to 4 months.  The scar requires 12 to 18 months to fade, flatten, and soften.  Doctor Doan and his staff will guide you through the entire recovery period to make sure that it is as smooth as possible.


Complications of Tummy Tuck Surgery


If you are a healthy candidate with no pre-existing disorders or diseases which may inhibit healing, the general risks of Tummy Tuck surgery are very low.  However, since it is indeed surgery, there are inherent risks you must consider before choosing to undergo a procedure such as this.  Potential complications associated with Tummy Tuck surgery may include the following:

  • Infections, although rare can happen when bacteria such as Staph, which naturally lives on your skin, can enter inside the incision by tracking along the drainage tubes. Washing your entire torso with an anti-bacterial soap like Dial for several days leading up to your surgery can reduce the amount of Staph on your skin. Infections can also develop during surgery from unsterile equipment used by the surgeon. Infections can also result from the introduction of bacteria post-operatively through improper dressing changes, bathing, or swimming in water which contains bacteria before the incision is sufficiently closed.

  • Hematoma (internal bleeding) shows up as excessive swelling on one side of the abdomen which is hard, the skin is tense, and very tender to touch.  Severe cases require a reoperation to drain the blood.

  • Seroma (fluid build up which may require aspiration) is possible, especially when the drainage tubes are removed too early in larger patients.  Seromas can also develop when patients are too active shortly after surgery.

  • Tissue Necrosis:  Necrosis can happen when the tissue loses its blood supply. Your chances of necrosis increase if you smoke which decreases circulation to the skin.  Necrosis can also result from excessive skin removal and overstretching of the abdominal skin during the skin closure. It may also result from applying the binder too tightly right after surgery.

  • Wound Opening:  This can occur due to tension on the incision, exaggerated movement or trauma early after surgery, infection, or from excessive skin removal and overstretching of the abdominal skin during the skin closure.

  • Loss of Skin Sensation:  Lack of sensation can be problematic, although usually temporary.  You will get back most sensation from the waist up.  Unfortunately this can be a permanent problem in some cases, especially along the scar. It is a complication the patient must be aware of before undergoing a tummy tuck.

  • Keloid and Hypertrophic Scars:  This is usually hereditary and is based on your genetic potential for healing. This is when the scar tissue forms outside the edges of the incision. It can result in thick, elevated, and wide scars. A scar revision may be attempted to improve the appearance of the scar.

  • Asymmetry of the scar, one side may appear higher, or wider than the other. The scar edges may appear jagged or may seem darker than you had expected. This should fade with time, but may require a scar revision to improve the scar.

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