Abdominoplasty, the cosmetic procedure commonly called a tummy tuck, is designed to remove loose skin from the abdomen and tighten the underlying muscles on the abdominal wall. After pregnancy or major weight loss, excess skin and stretched muscles can be a problem for many people.
Dr. Richard Rand is a board-certified plastic surgeon serving the greater Seattle area who specializes in tummy tucks. Together with his expert staff at the Northwest Center for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Dr. Rand maintains a patient-first focus so you feel completely supported from consultation through recovery. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of tummy tuck surgery, please don’t hesitate to contact our office in Bellevue today for more details.
Dr. Rand can tailor your tummy tuck to meet your individual needs. Some people have problems with loose skin, some have weakened muscles, others have fat deposits in the abdominal area, and many have a combination of these problems. Depending on your condition, Dr. Rand may recommend a full tummy tuck or mini tummy tuck. For women who are looking to enhance their figure after their pregnancy years, a mommy makeover with a tummy tuck is an excellent option. It will not only make your tummy look sleeker, but it can also help re-tighten loose muscles that may be causing discomfort.
Choosing the Right Procedure: Full or Mini-Tummy Tuck
Two basic types of tummy tuck surgery are performed by plastic surgeons today – the full tummy tuck and mini tummy tuck. When excess skin and muscle laxity is limited to the area below the belly button, the mini tummy tuck may be appropriate. However, over 95% of candidates will benefit far more from the full tummy tuck rather than the mini.
- A full tummy tuck is a much more extensive procedure than the mini tummy tuck. The full tummy tuck is done when the abdominal muscles need more tightening and a greater amount of excess fat and loose tissue needs to be removed. As part of this procedure, Dr. Rand creates a new navel (belly button). A full tummy tuck may include liposuction for removal of some fatty tissue.
- A mini tummy tuck is much less invasive. It may be recommended for patients who are within 10% of their ideal body weight and have looseness only below the belly button. The incision required for the mini tummy tuck is much smaller and the navel is left intact. Sometimes, liposuction is a part of the surgery to complete the process of tightening the abdomen from the navel to the pubis.
At your consultation, Dr. Rand will determine which of these tummy tuck types is right for you. This will be determined by evaluating your health, the fat deposits on the abdomen, and your skin tone, as well as what your goals are. Every tummy tuck Dr. Rand performs is personalized to the needs of the person undergoing the procedure and your input is vital for a successful tummy tuck. We also want you to be comfortable with the process, so please ask any questions that you might have.
Candidates for Abdominoplasty
Those who meet the following conditions may benefit from abdominoplasty:
- Problems with loose extra skin
- Stretch marks on the lower abdomen from weight gain/loss or pregnancy
- Weakened or stretched muscles from pregnancy
- Within 10-20 pounds of your ideal body weight
Candidates also need to have realistic expectations. A tummy tuck can be just the thing you need to get the body you want. It is most effective for those who are close to their ideal weight but cannot seem to get rid of the fat in an isolated area. You should want to do a tummy tuck for you, not because you feel pressured by someone else or are looking to impress them.
It’s worth noting that in some cases a tummy tuck may help with back pain. Because of how our muscles work, the strength of our core abdominal muscles is directly tied to the stability of our back muscles. A stronger, tighter core means a stronger back. A tummy tuck can help reduce back pain caused by loosened abdominal muscles due to pregnancy or weight gain.
If you plan on losing a lot of weight, it’s best to wait until after you have hit your weight loss goals to schedule your tummy tuck. Also, because pregnancy stretches out the abdomen, it’s best to wait to have an abdominoplasty until after you have finished having children.
How Does Tummy Tuck Surgery Work?
Full Tummy Tuck
A full tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat by making an incision in the lower abdomen from hipbone to hipbone, as well as a second incision around the belly button. Skin and fat are then separated from the abdominal wall and removed. Dr. Rand shortens the abdominal muscles and sutures them together to achieve a tightened muscle framework. After that, a new opening is created for the belly button with a small incision. All incisions are then closed. Drains may be placed to help reduce swelling after surgery, and these will be removed around a week after surgery.
Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck requires a much smaller incision between the hips. Like with the full tummy tuck, excess fat and skin are removed. In this case, the fat is from below the navel, but the navel is left intact. All incisions are then closed. This is a much simpler surgery that results in smaller scars. Again, drains may be placed to help swelling and will be removed in around a week.
Placement of Tummy Tuck Incisions and Scarring
It’s important to know that there are always permanent surgical scars from a tummy tuck. The incision for a traditional tummy tuck travels across the hips and often resembles the shape of bicycle handlebars. For a mini tummy tuck, the scar is much smaller and sits between the hips.
These scars, while permanent, do flatten and fade over time. Dr. Rand will take your clothing preferences and body shape into account and modify the incisions to make scars as inconspicuous as possible. If you have enough extra skin above the belly button, you can get a low, well-hidden scar easily covered in most clothing choices, including swimsuits and lingerie.
What to Expect after Abdominoplasty
There will be discomfort after your tummy tuck, but prescription medications can help manage your symptoms. Staying calm and having a positive attitude will help during recovery as well. All sutures will dissolve on their own. Dr. Rand tells patients they will feel 75% normal after one month and totally normal between 2 to 3 months after surgery.
Regular postoperative visits will be scheduled: the first is the day after surgery, the next visit is about 1 week later to remove the single drain, another visit is 3 to 5 days later and another is at 6 to 8 weeks. After 3 weeks lighter exercises may return and after 8 weeks, exercise using the abdominal muscles can be fully resumed.
What is abdominoplasty?
It’s a surgical procedure to flatten the abdomen by removing excess skin and fatty tissue while tightening abdominal muscles. Upper abdominal contour sculpting also characterizes Dr. Rand’s unique results.
How long does a tummy tuck take?
Abdominoplasty typically takes between 2 to 2.5 hours to perform. Most patients are ready to go home a few hours after surgery. Due to preparation time and the recovery period, it’s best to keep your schedule clear the day of the surgery and the two weeks after so you can make a complete and comfortable recovery.
What should be done to prepare for a tummy tuck?
In preparation for your tummy tuck:
- Get someone to drive you to and from the surgery.
- Make sure you also have someone to take care of you for 3 days after surgery.
- You’ll want to avoid taking anti-inflammatories and other medications Dr. Rand will list out in your pre-operative instructions.
- Be sure to fill prescriptions you’ll need in advance.
- You also may want to buy laxatives to help deal with binding.
- It’s a good idea to pre-prepare enough soft food for 2 weeks, since your stomach will not be up to regular food and you will likely not feel like cooking or going anywhere.
- Have ice packs ready to help with swelling at home.
- A shower-chair and a hand-held shower head may help with showering for the first few weeks after surgery.
- Wear loose, easy to remove (and put on) clothing to your surgery.
Last but far from least, follow Dr. Rand’s instructions closely!
What type of anesthesia is used during a tummy tuck?
Patients are placed under general anesthesia for all abdominoplasty surgeries. If you have medical issues that can cause complications while under anesthesia, be sure to discuss them with Dr. Rand. We also make sure you have a board-certified anesthesiologist who will be there from before surgery begins to the recovery period immediately afterward.
Are there possible side effects of abdominoplasty?
Some of the most common side effects of a tummy tuck include temporary pain, swelling, numbness of the abdominal skin, bruising, and fatigue. All of these should go away after a few weeks. We will give you a timeline of what to expect as you recover. There are always some side effects for a time after the surgery and the effects of the procedure will not be immediately obvious. You probably will not see the final results of your tummy tuck for a few months until after the swelling goes down.
Are there any serious risks?
As with any surgery, there are rare but possible serious complications. Blood clots can dislodge and travel to the lungs. Also, bleeding can occur under the skin flap cut during the surgery, while poor wound care can cause infection. Poor healing can result in conspicuous scarring or skin loss. We place the utmost priority on patient safety, health, and comfort, so please bring up any concerns you might have. Dr. Rand will discuss all possible complications with you before you move forward with your tummy tuck.
How long does it take to recover from a tummy tuck?
Most people are ready to go back to work about 2 weeks after surgery. Returning to more strenuous activity usually takes 8 weeks or more. Your scars will be raised and dark for a while but will start to fade, a process that lasts between 3 months and 2 or more years.
Your abdomen will need to stay bandaged for around a week, which is around the time when your sutures will be removed. Pain and swelling can be controlled using prescribed pain medication. The incisions will need to stay covered with surgical tape for around 2 weeks to ensure they heal properly.
You can help your recovery around in several simple ways. For the first week before the sutures are removed, keep your hips gently flexed to help keep the sutures from being strained. Walk around every few hours during the first 2 weeks to help prevent blood clots from forming in your calves. Wait to shower until your drains are removed and take sponge baths instead. Feel free to shower for the first two weeks after the drains are removed, but hold off on baths or swimming. If anything causes discomfort, limit that activity. Most importantly, follow Dr. Rand’s instructions and you should recover quickly.
As part of our preparations, we provide you with a timeline for your recovery before you undergo the procedure. Dr. Rand and his team will also be helping you through the process to ensure that your tummy tuck looks and feels great.
Dr. Rand and his team are here to help you look and feel better with a professional and excellent–looking tummy tuck. Our clinic is held to the highest health and safety standards. We know that cosmetic surgery can be intimidating and your comfort with the process is very important. Every patient receives a thorough and professional consult to understand their goals and answer any questions they may have.
Please take a look at our photo gallery for the before and after photos of our many happy tummy tuck patients. Contact us today or call 425-688-8828 for more information about tummy tuck surgery, or to schedule your consultation at our Bellevue practice.