Abdominoplasty – Tummy Tuck

Weight fluctuations and pregnancy can alter your body profile significantly, and it can be difficult to restore it to its original state – even when the pounds come off. The abdomen can be particularly challenging, as an expanding midsection may stretch the underlying muscles and make it nearly impossible to eliminate the bulge and achieve a flat, smooth contour once again. Fortunately, body contouring procedures are available to reverse the effects of weight gain and time. Abdominoplasty is a way to tighten the abdomen inside and out to produce the more active body profile you want.

From Dr. Barrett

“The tummy tuck is one of the most powerful life-changing operations I perform. Nationwide, 97 percent of patients who undergo a tummy tuck are satisfied with their procedure. There is no other procedure that produces such high satisfaction rates. The main reason is because the procedure is designed to get your body back, not to change who you are. My focus for every tummy tuck operation is to customize it based on each individual patient and provide results that don’t look like you have had surgery. The part of the operation that I spend the most amount of time on is the belly button. While you can always hide a bad lower scar, you can’t hide a bad belly button and if it looks bad, it’s a dead giveaway that you’ve had a tummy tuck. That said, I spend more time on my tummy tucks than most surgeons because there is a lot involved. I keep my incision for the removal of the skin extremely low and I close it meticulously in four separate layers. I also double reinforce my plications so that the abdominal wall repair does not relax over time. Attention to all of these details is a must for a beautiful and long-lasting tummy tuck.”

Dr. Barrett has performed thousands of abdominoplasty procedures and works with each of his patients to tailor the surgery to the unique needs of the individual. Whether you are looking for a small amount of correction or more dramatic results, Dr. Barrett has the knowledge and techniques to ensure your tummy tuck produces natural, long-lasting results. As a surgeon that prides himself on taking ample time with each patient, rest assured Dr. Barrett will not proceed with your surgery until he knows you understand what to expect and you are comfortable moving forward.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery is designed for individuals who desire tight, contoured midsections. Depending on the needs of his patient, Dr. Barrett may tighten underlying muscles while removing tissue, fat and loose skin. Dr. Barrett frequently performs tummy tucks under general anesthesia and you may require an overnight in an aftercare facility. However, this surgery offers some of the most dramatic body contouring enhancement, with results that will last forever if you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A tummy tuck is frequently performed as a stand-alone procedure to improve the body contour when diet and exercise don’t do the trick. However, the surgery can also be combined with other treatments to enhance the outcome further. Common procedures done with a tummy tuck include breast enhancement and liposuction. Dr. Barrett will advise you on the right procedures for you based on your specific concerns and the goals you hope to achieve.

Is a Tummy Tuck Right for You?

A tummy tuck is appropriate for both men and women that would like to tighten and flatten the midsection. The best candidates might include:

  • Older, overweight individuals with folds of loose skin
  • Those who have a significant amount of loose skin due to weight fluctuations
  • People who still retain excess fat despite their diet and exercise efforts
  • Women that have seen their muscles and skin stretch due to pregnancy, especially twins

Dr. Barrett usually advises patients to pursue surgery after they have met their weight loss goals or when that are finished having children. Both weight gain and pregnancy can interfere with the results of this procedure. If you add pounds or become pregnant, you may need additional treatments or surgery to restore your positive results.

Choosing a Tummy Tuck Surgeon

A tummy tuck is considered more extensive surgery than other cosmetic procedures, so selecting the right plastic surgeon is critical to ensuring a safe procedure and an optimal outcome. Board-certification is just the start of your selection process. You also want a surgeon that has advanced techniques in scar management since the incision used for a tummy tuck is often significant, and you want to ensure it heals well. Finally, you want a surgeon that will take the time to explain every aspect of the procedure, so you feel comfortable and confident in your decision when the day of your surgery arrives. Dr. Barrett fits the bill in all these areas, to provide you with the highest level of care and beautiful results.

Benefits of a Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck offers numerous benefits for the right patient, including:

  • Smoother, flatter midsection
  • Tighter abdominal muscles
  • Reduction in loose skin around the middle
  • Elimination of some stretch marks, those above the belly button typically can’t be removed
  • Repositioning of the belly button for a natural look

Although a tummy tuck features many advantages, it isn’t the top choice for every patient in search of body contouring options. Dr. Barrett makes it a priority to listen to your concerns and understand your aesthetic goals to determine whether a tummy tuck will be necessary to give you your desired outcome.

Choices in Tummy Tucks

Just as no two patients are quite the same, no two tummy tucks will be performed in precisely the same way. The technique Dr. Barrett uses for your procedure will depend on the amount of correction needed and the changes you are hoping to gain.

For patients who only require small alterations in the midsection, Dr. Barrett may recommend a partial abdominoplasty or mini tummy tuck. This approach usually involves a shorter incision, which means that less skin can be pulled and shifted. The shorter incision also allows for a quicker more comfortable recovery process. However, the results are not as dramatic, as Dr. Barrett is limited on the amount of loose skin he can excise. This procedure can be enhanced using liposuction to remove additional unwanted fat for a more sculpted result.

A traditional tummy tuck offers more correction and is particularly helpful for patients that have a significant amount of loose skin. This technique typically requires two incisions – a horizontal incision running between the navel and the pubic hairline and a second incision encircling the navel. This second incision allows for movement of the navel if necessary as well.  If you have laxity above the belly button, you may benefit more from a full tummy tuck.

Creating Your Surgical Plan

During your pre-operative consultation, Dr. Barrett will discuss the differences between the two approaches, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each one. Together, you can plan exactly what you desire surgically, and Dr. Barrett can help you make the best decision for your unique situation. You will have the ask all the questions necessary, so you go into your surgery knowing precisely what to expect from the procedure, the recovery process and your results.

Preparing for Your Procedure

Because a tummy tuck is an elaborate surgery that involves a significant incision, what you do before your procedure will make a profound difference in how your body handles the surgery and the recovery time. Dr. Barrett will list a few different steps he will expect you to follow to create the safest possible environment for your operation. These steps might include:

  • Stop smoking for six weeks minimum before and after your tummy tuck. Nicotine has a direct effect on wound healing, and the size of the incision for this surgery can be severely impacted by cigarette use. In addition, smoking can increase your risk for complications related to the anesthesia you will receive for the procedure.
  • Provide a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as any supplements you are currently taking. Some substances can increase bleeding during and after your procedure. Dr. Barrett will want you to avoid blood-thinning medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and supplements like vitamin E for at least one week before surgery for this reason.
  • Line up help and support for after your tummy tuck surgery. You will not be up and around right away after a tummy tuck, and you will need enough time to rest your body so that it can heal well. Having someone in the house to handle your care, as well as the care of children or pets in the home, is essential to a safe and comfortable early recovery process.
  • Fill prescriptions and stock up on soft food and quiet activities for your recovery time. Having things ready for you when you get home will make it much easier to rest for the preliminary days after your surgery.

Dr. Barrett may have additional instructions for you depending on your medical history and upcoming procedure. The closer you adhere to those directions, the more likely you will be to have a positive experience and the best possible outcome.

Tummy Tuck Overview

Dr. Barrett takes approximately four to five hours to complete tummy tucks and usually performs them under general anesthesia. The procedure may be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the individual and Dr. Barrett’s recommendation. During the surgery, Dr. Barrett will create the incisions that were discussed during your preliminary appointments, taking care to place the horizontal incision low enough that it will be hidden within undergarments and a bathing suit. An incision around the navel will be placed in the natural creases of the skin to minimize visible scarring in this area as well.

Through the incisions, Dr. Barrett will tighten the abdominal muscles if necessary and remove excess tissue and fat from the abdomen. Loose skin will also be excised before the skin is pulled firmly across the middle and the incision is sutured closed. Dr. Barrett will also reposition the navel if necessary to ensure your outcome looks natural and proportionate. In some cases, Dr. Barrett may also use liposuction before closing incisions to produce additional sculpting.

Dr. Barrett uses a four-layered approach when he sutures the incision closed to minimize tension on the area and encourage optimal healing. This unique technique tends to create a less noticeable scar over time, although it is difficult to predict precisely how each patient will heal after surgery. A dressing will be applied over the sutures and tubes may be inserted into the incision to keep fluid from draining out of the surgical area. You will be given a compression garment to wear that will reduce swelling and promote healthy blood flow to the area. This compression starts at week two.

After Your Tummy Tuck

When you go home after your tummy tuck, you are likely to be swollen and sore. The first few days, you will be encouraged to rest and take non-opiod pain medication Dr. Barrett recommends to keep you comfortable. Dr. Barrett will provide additional instructions specific to your recovery. Following these instructions carefully can help reduce post-surgery complications, help you maintain a higher level of comfort and speed up your recovery time. Adherence is particularly true of the instructions you receive for caring for your incision since following Dr. Barrett’s protocol will minimize scarring once the incision fully heals.

You will have regular follow-up appointments in our office, where you will be seen by Dr. Barrett, so he can carefully monitor your progress. This will also be an opportunity for you to share concerns and ask questions about your recovery. Dr. Barrett will provide you with guidelines on when you can return to different activities, based on your healing process. However, you can expect to return to work within about two weeks (if your job is not overly taxing) and vigorous activities within about six weeks.

Dramatic Body Contouring

You may not see the results of your tummy tuck right away, as swelling and other side effects of surgery may prevent your new contour from appearing for a few weeks. As you begin to feel better, you will also start to see that your abdomen is tighter and firmer, with a visible reduction in the bulge you sported before your surgery. At the same time, stretch marks that had been in the lower area of the abdomen may now be gone, leaving you with a smoother, more youthful midsection.

The incision will take longer to resolve, with most patients seeing ongoing improvement for at least the first year after surgery. It is critical that you protect your incisions from direct sunlight during that time since UV rays can discolor scars and make them more prominent. Over time, you will notice that your scar continues to fade until it is much less noticeable overall.

A tummy tuck is an investment, but it is one that usually pays off in an improved appearance and increased self-confidence. You may notice your clothing fits better and your body contour is in better proportion after this procedure. A tummy tuck offers long-lasting results you can enjoy as long as you maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. If you would like to learn more about this surgery or find out if a tummy tuck is the right body contouring procedure for you, now is the time to schedule your consultation with Dr. Barrett by phoning Barrett Plastic Surgery at 310-598-2648.

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