What is a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty?

shutterstock_86467600Tummy Tuck, or Abdominoplasty, involves the removal of loose or damaged skin from the abdomen in addition to tightening the abdominal wall muscles.  The belly button is then relocated after the skin is removed.  The best candidates for a tummy tuck are women after childbirth or after massive weight loss.  The skin and abdominal wall muscles are irreversibly stretched in these patients.  As a result, they need skin excision and muscle tightening to restore their flat tummy and hourglass figure. For examples, you can see some of Dr. Graham’s before and after pictures here.

Is there more than one kind of tummy tuck?

In addition to the full tummy tuck, there is also a mini tummy tuck and a circumferential tummy tuck (or body lift).  The mini procedure involves only removing skin below the belly button with or without muscle tightening.  This surgery doesn’t require making a new belly button.  This procedure is a good choice when the main issue is skin below the belly button.  This is a also a good option because it tightens and flattens the abdomen without creating a scar around the belly button.  The circumferential procedure goes all the way around the body.  This procedure is a combination tummy tuck, lateral thigh lift, and body lift.  The circumferential tummy tuck is a great option after massive weight loss.

How does a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery work?

Tummy Tuck surgery involves making an incision low on the abdomen.  The skin of the abdomen is then elevated off of the underlying muscles all the way up to the ribs.  This excess skin is then pulled down and the extra is cut away. The underlying muscle is then tightened and the belly button moved to its new position.  You can see a 3D animation of a tummy tuck in the body section of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) webpage.

Why should I choose Dr. Graham to perform my tummy tuck?

Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is one of Dr. Graham’s favorite procedures.  During the refinement of his technique he was able to observe and assist over a dozen other plastic surgeons.  He has borrowed tips from each surgeon to develop the perfect technique.  He uses multiple small maneuvers to ensure a natural look and minimize visible scarring.  This is no more evident than in his belly button technique.  Unlike other plastic surgeons, this technique is unique in that there is no obvious circular scar around the belly button (see adjacent photo).  Whenever possible, Dr. Graham wants all the scars on your abdomen to be hidden so no one will know you had an operation, even in a bathing suit.Belly Button-Compare

What are the main risks of tummy tuck surgery?

Please refer to the following form published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
Abdominoplasty-ASPS

What is the average tummy tuck recovery time? How much time off of work will I need for a tummy tuck? Are there lifting restrictions?

This is dependant on the type of work you perform.  Many patients with office jobs only require a week or two.  However, patients who perform heavy labor may require 4-6 weeks to recover.  You will not be able to lift anything greater than 10 lbs for 6 weeks.  You will not be able to run or jog for 4 weeks.  You will not be able to perform abdominal wall exercises for 2 months.

Tummy Tuck Week 1
• You will stay flexed at the hips to keep tension off your incision.  You will need to sleep with two pillows behind your head and one under your knees.  This will continue for the first week.
• You will have an abdominal binder in place.  This binder or a compression dressing (Spanx, etc.) will be worn at all times for the next month (except to shower).
• Most likely you will have drains in place.  You will record the drain output daily.  This drain will most likely be removed at your one week follow up.  However, the drain may stay in longer if necessary.
• No lifting >10 lbs and no core exercises.  Limit repeated bending at the hips.  Walking is encouraged.

Tummy Tuck Week 1-1 month
• You may gradually begin to straighten your posture and begin lying flat
• Continue to wear binder at all times
• No lifting >10 lbs and no core exercises.  Limit repeated bending at the hips. Walking is encouraged.

Tummy Tuck 1 month-2 months

• Continue to wear binder at night for one more month
• You may now begin to apply scar creams
• You may now resume cardiovascular exercise (running,biking) and sex
• No lifting >10 lbs and no core exercises. Limit repeated bending at the hips.

Tummy Tuck 2 months plus
• You may now resume full activity including abdominal core exercises

Driving after Tummy Tuck?
You may drive when you are off narcotics and feel confident to control the car.   Most patients are able to drive within 1-2 weeks.

How much does a tummy tuck cost?

The price of a tummy tuck varies depending on whether you are getting a mini, full, or circumferential tummy tuck.   The US national average price of a tummy tuck is $7,000-9,000.   Dr. Graham’s pricing can be found here.

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