Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) – Surgery & Risks

Tummy tuck surgery can help flatten the stubborn fat deposits in the middle and/or lower abdomen and tighten your skin, and as a result of the surgery, your appearance and self-esteem may improve.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) statistics, about 150,000 tummy tucks were performed in 2008. Many patients were thrilled with the outcome of the procedure. But, keep in mind that tummy tuck is a serious surgical procedure that may involve risks and complications.

Are You a Good Candidate for Tummy Tuck?

When you meet with your surgeon, get the facts on tummy tucks, and learn the basic tummy tuck criteria that should help you to make a preliminary assessment as to whether the surgery is right for you. Learn more about how your doctor will evaluate you for a tummy tuck.

Educate yourself about the limitations of tummy tuck, and understand how smoking and second-hand smoke may negatively affect the healing process. View sample before and after tummy tuck photos to get a general idea of potential tummy tuck results.

It is critical that you are honest with your surgeon when it comes to discussing your reasons and goals for tummy tuck. Realistic expectations are key to a successful tummy tuck outcome. Patients who want to look completely different, as opposed to just enhancing their current body profile, should not consider tummy tuck. Also, patients should expect others to perceive them better, in terms of the appearance, but not to treat them completely differently.

Why You Should Consult a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon?

Board certification does not guarantee success, but it does ensure that your surgeon has met certain qualifications and has quality experience. It is therefore to your benefit to consult a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon.

Be sure to discuss your entire medical history with your plastic surgeon, including any medications, vitamins and/or supplements you take or have taken, and your personal habits (e.g. smoking). Your answers will help your surgeon make an accurate, professional decision on whether tummy tuck is right for your needs and safe for your health. It is possible that existing and past medical conditions may influence the success of the surgery and recovery process. For example, if you have sustained serious injury to the stomach area in the past, the surgeon might have to use special surgical techniques that might prolong the recovery process.

Your surgeon's qualifications and experience are critical to the success of your tummy tuck surgery . It is important that you consult with and are operated on by a skilled surgeon, so learn how to choose a board certified plastic surgeon.

What Are the Different Types of Tummy Tuck?

There are two types of tummy tuck: a complete tummy tuck and partial (or mini) tummy tuck. To learn about the differences between these two procedures, consult the Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery.

Learn how a partial or mini tummy tuck is performed and how it is different from a full tummy tuck. Also, find out why an endoscopic is the best choice for patients with mild degree of skin laxity and excess abdominal fat. Endoscopic procedures provide for less scaring and shorter recovery times.

Depending on your individual needs, you and your doctor may decide that you could benefit from related abdominal procedures. Educate yourself about abdominal etching (a new liposuction technique that helps to emphasize the muscular appearance of the abdomen) and panniculectomy (a surgical procedure that removes excess fat and skin without tightening the muscles). These procedures can be performed stand-alone or combined with a tummy tuck.

How Can You Prepare for Tummy Tuck?

Your plastic surgeon will help you to effectively prepare for tummy tuck based on your medical history, individual habits, as well as other essential factors.

During your this consultation, your doctor may advise that a related cosmetic procedure, such as liposuction (fat removal), laser liposuction or tumescent liposuction, is more appropriate for your needs.

If you have any concerns about tummy tuck, address it with your doctor during the initial consultation. After your initial consultation, consider all information at hand, weigh the risks and take your time before making the right decision about a tummy tuck.

Where Will Tummy Tuck Be Performed?

Tummy tuck can be performed as an outpatient procedure (in a plastic surgeon's office or an ambulatory surgical facility) or as an inpatient procedure (in a hospital).

Be aware that outpatient facilities must meet certain surgery facility standards as set forth by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities, Inc. (AAAASF). Verify that your plastic surgeon's office or facility is accredited, and find out what you should know about the safety of outpatient plastic surgery. By undergoing plastic surgery at a fully accredited facility, you can greatly decrease your risk of contracting an infection that might affect your vital organs, such as brain, causing permanent brain injury.
Inpatient tummy tuck may require an overnight stay at the hospital; this will be discussed prior to tummy tuck surgery with your plastic surgeon.

What Should You Know about Anesthesia for Tummy Tuck?

Depending on the extent of the procedure, tummy tuck may involve local or general anesthesia. The type and level of anesthesia is dependent on the extent of surgery needed to remove the excess skin and fat and tighten the abdominal muscles.
You and your doctor will discuss available anesthesia options and decide on the choice that is most appropriate for you.

What Happens During the Surgery?

The day you have been waiting for has finally arrived. Be sure to educate yourself about what the day of surgery will be like to avoid unnecessary surprises.

Furthermore, know what to expect during the tummy tuck procedure and how long a complete and partial tummy tuck surgery may last. To get a better understanding, review the three stages of a complete abdominoplasty procedure from the National Library of Medicine.

Immediately after the surgery, your doctor may insert small tubes and apply special elastic dressing to the operated area to allow fluid to drain from your incisions.

Are There Tummy Tuck Risks or Potential Complications?

Successful tummy tuck surgery is routinely performed throughout the United States. However, tummy tuck is a serious procedure that affects a critical area of your body and carries certain risks and complications. As a result, even the most experienced plastic surgeons cannot guarantee a successful and healthy outcome for a carefully selected tummy tuck patient. Like with any surgery procedure, the risk of infection, considerable swelling or bruising are always possible.

Learn how to minimize the risk of complications, including blood clots and poor healing.
Another potential cause of serious complications after tummy tuck is the use of general anesthesia. Many surgeons recommend the use of local anesthesia to eliminate the possibility of these types of complications. Carefully consider all tummy tuck risks and complications and discuss them with your plastic surgeon before making the decision to have the procedure.

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