As we gain weight, either through puberty, pregnancy or lifestyle choices our skin stretches to accommodate our new shape. Rapid weight gain can cause the skin to develop stretch marks, and equally, if you lose weight too quickly, it can leave you with loose skin. If you’re extremely lucky your skin will snap back as it once was, but if you’re part of the 99% who doesn’t have phenomenal skin elasticity you may be left with loose skin on your tummy, as well as other areas including thighs and arms.
The abdominoplasty procedure is performed with a horizontal incision in the lower abdomen within the bikini line. In patients who have undergone a prior c-section, the incision can be made in the same location and extended to the sides. The rectus abdominis muscles of the abdomen are tightened, and the excess skin and fat are trimmed and re-draped. Most abdominoplasty surgeries require repositioning of the umbilicus, or navel through a second incision. In the “mini” abdominoplasty procedure, lower abdominal muscle tightening with fat and skin removal are performed through a limited horizontal bikini incision only, without repositioning of the navel. The resulting scar is usually low on the abdomen, and therefore can be concealed within most bathing suits and clothing. Small drain tubes are placed with both techniques.
The surgery lasts 3-4 hours and is performed under general anaesthesia. Many patients worry about the risk of general anaesthesia, but it is very safe, and it assures that you will be completely comfortable during surgery. Prior to surgery you will be required to obtain medical photographs, routine bloodwork, and in some cases preoperative clearance. The evening prior to surgery, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight. This ensures that you will have an empty stomach prior to surgery, which is very important for your anaesthesiologist to care for you safely. You will need to have a responsible adult available to escort you home after surgery.
A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or exercise. If you have ongoing weight loss, or are planning to become pregnant, you should delay your surgery. A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, but it will remove the skin beneath the umbilicus with its stretch marks. Stretch marks above this level some- times appear lighter after surgery, but they will not disappear.