What is a Tummy Tuck?
Specilizing in Denver, tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, removes excess fat and skin and, in most cases, restores weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal contour that is smoother and firmer.
A flat and well-toned abdomen is something many of us strive for through exercise and weight control. Sometimes these methods cannot achieve our goals.
Even individuals of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The most common causes of this include:
- Prior surgery
- Significant fluctuations in weight
What a Tummy Tuck Won’t Do
A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate and healthy workout regimin. Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in one’s weight. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies would be advised to postpone a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised.
What Are The Risks Involved?
A tummy tuck poses various risks, including:
- Fluid accumulation beneath the skin (seroma). Drainage tubes left in place after surgery can help reduce the risk of seroma. Your doctor might also remove fluid after surgery using a needle and syringe.
- Poor wound healing. Sometimes areas along the incision line heal poorly or begin to separate. You might be given antibiotics during and after surgery to prevent a resulting infection.
- The incision scar from a tummy tuck is permanent, but is placed along the easily hidden bikini line. The length and visibility of the scar will vary from person to person.
- Tissue necrosis. During a tummy tuck, fatty tissue deep within your skin in the abdominal area might get damaged or die. Smoking increases the risk of tissue necrosis. Depending on the size of the area, tissue might heal on its own within weeks or require a surgical touch-up procedure.
- Changes in skin sensation. During a tummy tuck, the repositioning of your abdominal tissues can affect superficial sensory nerves in the abdominal area, and infrequently, in the upper thighs. You’ll likely feel some reduced sensation or numbness. This usually diminishes in the months after the procedure.
- Like any other type of major surgery, a tummy tuck poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia.
Who Is The Ideal Candidate For A Tummy Tuck Denver?
The best candidates for an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, in Denver, Colorado are otherwise healthy patients with an excess of fat and skin in the lower abdomen. Your safety is the most important especially because this is an elective procedure. You must be able to tolerate the anesthesia required for the procedure, meaning a healthy heart, lungs, and kidneys. This will all be examined with risk assessed at your consultation with a cosmetic surgeon as you further explore and consider this procedure. You should not have problems with keloid or hypertrophic scars (thick scars that are raised above the surrounding skin).
Finally, you should have a body-type which is amenable to good results with the procedure. Skinny bodies with an extra amount of fat and loose skin in your lower tummy fare best, while those with generalized obesity are not good candidates for this procedure. The tummy tuck is often a part of a mommy makeover after pregnancy, to help remove excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen remaining after the woman’s weight has stabilized after childbirth. A scar from a Caesarian section is often easily incorporated in the tummy tuck, but if you have had certain previous surgeries on your abdomen, the blood vessels to your abdominal skin may be altered. If this is the case, a tummy tuck may not be a good procedure for you.
Things To Consider Before Having A Tummy Tuck
- Plan enough time off.
This is not simply time off work. You must also make arrangements for care of your children, household, other family members for whom you may be responsible (husbands, elderly parents, etc.). Two weeks is the minimum before returning to a desk job. Working only half days the first week back to work is even better. You will not be able to do heavy physical work, work that involves travel or a lot of standing for three weeks.
- Make sure you have enough help lined up.
This probably means full time help with young children AND an adult to help you get in and out of bed, prepare food for you, help you dress for the first few days after the surgery.
- You should do little or nothing besides caring for yourself in the first 2 weeks.
Even if you think you feel well enough to “do some work” you shouldn’t put yourself at risk this soon after surgery. This means no cooking, no answering emails (work related or personal), no child care, no laundry, no housework, no cleaning out that closet you have been dying to organize. It is entirely too easy for many patients to focus on a task and not be aware of their body’s needs. In the first week after surgery you need to pay careful attention to yourself so that you lie down as soon as you are tired and eat as soon as you are hungry. If you give yourself the space to answer your body’s signals, you will find yourself suddenly overcome by the need to sleep or the need to eat and you should do just that.
By the second week, you will be feeling better, but certainly not back to yourself. You will probably be able to stand up straight and move around the house for several hours at a time. You will be able to spend time with your kids, but should not plan to be their full time care giver. You will still feel suddenly exhausted or hungry and should have enough other help that you can excuse yourself and go lie down as soon as you feel the need.
You will recover better and faster if you accept you body’s need for attention and rest, and plan adequately for it.
- Expect to feel wiped out for six weeks.
By the time you go back to a desk job at two weeks, you will feel okay focusing on your job. Any pain you still have should be managed by Ibuprofen. Expect though that when you get home from work you will be wiped out. You may find yourself needing to go to bed earlier than you probably have in years. Most patients report the first day of week seven, their stamina is back and they feel like themselves. It can take longer if you don’t allow yourself those six weeks sleeping more and accomplishing less than you are used to.
- Nutrition is very important.
Nutritional habits that may work to maintain you when you are healthy can become a huge stress when you have a surgical wound to heal. You have to eat well. You should have protein with every meal, at least two eggs or four egg whites, two pieces of citrus fruit per day (whole fruit, not juice) and then whatever else you want. It is not healthy to try to lose weight during this time. You must eat well to heal well.
- Full healing takes up to a year.
A majority of swelling, pain and postoperative fatigue resolves in the first six weeks. The healing process goes on for months after that. The scar which will initially be dark or red and bumpy under the skin will soften, flatten and fade. The skin on the belly will initially be numb. Sensation will return in fits and starts. Your abdominal wall will initially feel stiff and swollen, particularly the area below the belly button. This swelling will usually be worse in the evening and better in the morning, but the fluctuations will improve slowly over months. While improvement in your shape and appearance will be obvious within days after surgery, things will continue to change and improve over that first year.
- The first three days after tummy tuck are the worst.
The patients come in for the operation and go home to their own beds the same day. There are many reasons for this approach, not the least of which is that the hospital is not a great place for an otherwise healthy patient. By the next morning, they start to feel better each day. By day three, there is light at the end of the tunnel and they are starting to be happy they have had the surgery.
- Pain medication does not take the pain away, it makes it better.
The majority of patients are off narcotic and only on Ibuprofen by several days post op, not because I won’t renew the narcotic prescription, but because Ibuprofen is enough to bring the pain down to a comfortable level.
- You will have surgical drains for seven to ten days.
These require a bit of care, emptying them regularly and measuring the drainage. It is not hard to do and the nurses in the recovery room will teach you and your caregiver. The drains are removed in the office when the 24 hour total drainage is low enough. This is usually around day five for the first and two days later for the second. Taking them out is easy and fast, so don’t worry. The biggest problem for most patients is that they cannot get these drains wet, so will not be able to shower or take a bath until both are out. Hair washing in the sink is ok as are sponge baths, but the drain sites must stay dry.
- You will probably not be able to drive for ten days to two weeks.
This varies from patient to patient, but an absolute requirement is that you be off all narcotic so you are driving sober. The second requirement is more of a judgment call on the part of the patient. The seatbelt lies right across the surgical site. You must feel well enough that this will not be a distraction from driving. An instant worrying about your belly may cause hesitation before slamming on the breaks. This half a second delay can be the difference between having or avoiding and accident. Most women drive by ten days, some sooner, some later.
- You will need some time off from your exercise routine and heavy lifting.
There is no steadfast rule to follow for when you will be able to get back to exercising. Most patients are not even ready to think about it for at least a month. Postoperative patients usually know when they are ready to start working out again. Good advice is to start with 1/10th of what you usually do, then stop and take an inventory. If the activity has caused discomfort that does not resolve within 10 minutes of rest, you probably over did it. If you feel fine, double the exercise the next day and take inventory again. Build up slowly and don’t push. You will probably not be doing any abdominal workouts for two months.
- Choose the right Denver surgeon for you.
Your eventual outcome is a team effort. You must feel comfortable with your Denver surgeon. You will need to see a lot of him or her during your recovery. Postoperative visits are usually frequent in the first two weeks and less as time goes on. Questions and concerns will arise, and you should feel able to get in touch with your surgeon’s office and have these issues addressed. No question is too silly or stupid. Pay attention to how you feel speaking with your surgeon before surgery.
Communication will probably not get easier after the procedure when you don’t feel well and are anxious that something may not be healing normally.
Tummy tucks in Denver should be done by surgeons certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. While other surgeons may have expertise in surgery of the face, only those Boarded by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have received proper training in surgery of the body and the face.