Abdominoplasty Facts - Viewpoints from Expert Doctors

Last updated date: 03-Apr-2022

CloudHospital

9 mins read

Everybody wants to be in the best shape. You see people paying thousands of dollars every year at the gym and other health clubs to have the perfect body.

Some people get what they wish for by just abiding by a good diet and persistent exercise. But others meet many difficulties to just get rid of the extra fat, not even having a muscular well-toned body. 

But have you ever thought about people who massively lost weight? Or women after pregnancy? What would their abdomen look like after such a significant change? 

Where does all the extra skin go? 

After losing a lot of weight, people are so proud of their achievements and overjoyed at their success. However, they still have loose heavy folds of skin left as a reminder of their old self. 

Also, we need to help people who are trying so hard to lose abdominal fat in natural ways and they fail. 

 

All these situations make people consider plastic surgeries. But can plastic surgery contour the abdomen, tighten the muscles and flatten it?

Luckily, plastic surgery can. 

But before I tell you how plastic surgery can give you a better-looking abdomen, let me tell you why abdominal fat is harmful. 

The normal amount of belly fat is healthy and necessary, but excess belly fat is extremely unhealthy. 

And let me tell you why; it is not only about the looks. Excess belly fat is a significant risk factor for complicated health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes type 2, heart diseases and cancer. 

Even normal-weight people with excess belly fat can still be in danger of having these health problems. 

So, we can conclude that getting rid of your belly fat is very crucial for more than just an attractive body.

Doctors call the unhealthy belly fat “Visceral fat”, and it refers to the fat surrounding the liver and other organs in the abdomen and puffing your stomach. But why is it so hard to lose? 

There are many reasons why you don’t lose your belly fat, including: 

  • You drink a lot of alcohol. Alcohol has a lot more calories than you expect. And these alcohol calories can’t be stored for later, so the body focuses on these calories first. This diverts the body from burning the fat, and this especially happens in the belly. 
  • You are eating a lot of processed food and fast food. Belly fat is associated with inflammation and eating too much processed food will interfere with your ability to lose fat.  On the other hand, natural food, fruits, and vegetables have many antioxidants that prevent inflammation and prevent belly fat. 
  • Sugary foods and beverages. Taking more sugar every day than you realize can lead to excess belly fat. Foods like cakes, candies, and soda. 
  • Trans fat. It is absolutely the unhealthiest form of fat. They are formed by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats to make them stable. This type of fat causes inflammation which leads to insulin resistance and heart disease. 
  • Stress. 
  • Low fiber diet. 
  • Inactivity. If you are living a sedentary life or if you are doing the wrong workout, you won’t lose belly fat easily. 
  • Low protein diets. 

And since it is so frustrating to be dieting and working out so hard with no results in return, surgery always seems a tempting solution. 

 

So, back to plastic surgery, what is the available option to have a tight abdomen? 

Currently, there is abdominoplasty surgery, or commonly known as the tummy tuck. 

 

So, what is abdominoplasty? 

It is a cosmetic procedure that flattens the abdomen by removing extra fat and skin and tightens the abdominal muscle. Connective tissue in the abdomen is tightened by sutures as well. The remaining skin is then repositioned to create a more toned look.

But we need to emphasize that this procedure is not an alternative to weight loss. 

People who have excess skin, poor elasticity, and weak connective tissues and muscles fall into these categories: 

  • Pregnant females. 
  • People who significantly lost weight.
  • Females who underwent C-sections. 
  • People who have this as their natural body type.
  • Old people. 
  • Men and women who desire the aesthetic appearance of the abdomen.

In addition to removing excess skin, fat, and tightening weak fascia, tummy tucks can also remove stretch marks in the lower abdomen below the belly button. However, it can’t correct or remove stretch marks outside this area. 

Tummy tucks can be done in combination with other body contouring cosmetic surgeries. For example, if a patient had liposuction, he or she might also consider abdominoplasty because liposuction only removes the fat tissue under the skin and not the excess skin.

 

The question is, are tummy tucks for everyone? 

Unfortunately, no. It is not for everyone. 

Your surgeon might warn about having a tummy tuck if you: 

  • Are a smoker. 
  • Might have a future pregnancy. 
  • Plan to lose significant weight. 
  • Have a severe chronic condition such as heart disease and diabetes. 
  • Had previous abdominal surgery that resulted in prominent scar tissue. 

 

And since it is a surgery, it surely has some risks, including: 

  • Fluid accumulation under the skin, also known as seroma. That’s why surgeons prefer to leave drainage tubes after the surgery to drain any extra fluids. If there weren’t drainage tubes left, your surgeon might drain the fluids using syringes. 
  • Poor wound healing. Your surgeon will give you antibiotics during and after the surgery to prevent infections because they will cause inflammation and poor wound healing. But sometimes areas along the incision heal poorly or separate. 
  • Unexpected scarring. The Incision scar of a tummy tuck is permanent, that’s why doctors hide it in the bikini line. 
  • Hematoma or bleeding. 
  • Infection. 
  • Tissue damage or death. During the procedure, deep fatty tissue that lies within your skin in the abdominal area might be damaged or die. Smoking increases the risk of this damage. How to treat this damage depends on the size of the area. If it is a small area, it will heal on its own. 
  • Changes in skin sensations. The procedure includes repositioning the skin. This repositioning can affect the nerves of the abdominal area. Sometimes it might extend to the upper thighs. Patients then feel reduced sensations or numbness. But fortunately, it diminishes months after the procedure. 
  • Blood clots. 
  • Asymmetry
  • Wound separation. The wound might open due to poor wound healing or infection at the site of the operation. 
  • Adverse effects of anesthesia. 


In addition to risks, you need to know how to prepare for a tummy tuck if you are willing to do one. 

Before a tummy tuck, you need to: 

  • Stop smoking. Smoking is known to decrease the blood flow to the skin which will affect the quality of the wound healing process. In addition, it increases the risk of tissue damage and fat necrosis as we mentioned earlier. So, it is better to stop smoking before surgery and during recovery. 
  • Avoid certain medications. Your surgeon will ask you to stop medications that may cause bleeding such as aspirin. He or she will also ask you to stop anti-inflammatory drugs. 
  • Maintain a stable weight. Because significant weight loss can ruin your results, it is better to keep a stable weight for at least 12 months before the surgery. If you are planning to lose significant weight, you should do it before the surgery. 
  • Arrange for help after the surgery. You must arrange for someone to drive you after the surgery and during the recovery period. 
  • Take medications to prevent complications. Your surgeon might advise you to start an anticoagulant before your surgery to prevent blood clots. 

After all these preparations, you will contact your plastic surgeon to discuss with him or her your procedure. 

During the first visit, your surgeon will discuss with you your medical history in detail. So, be prepared to share everything with your surgeons, all your current and past medical history, any medications you are on, any previous surgeries, or any allergies. 

The sure thing is that your surgeon will ask you about your weight gain and loss. 

It is very important to be honest with your surgeon so he or she can help you. 

After this discussion, it is time for the physical examination. Your surgeon will examine your abdomen to determine the best surgical technique for you. 

He or she might also take pictures of your abdomen from many angles and enclose them in your medical record. These pictures can help you see the difference after the surgery. 

Then your surgeon will ask you about your expectations. You should spare nothing at this stage. Tell your surgeon about your body goals, why you want a tummy tuck and your expectations from the surgery. Share with your surgeon your concerns about scaring, risks, and complications.

 

Our role today is to answer most of your questions regarding Abdominoplasty. Today we have Dr. Rhee, who is a renowned cosmetic surgeon from Seoul, Korea. He is going to discuss Abdominoplasty with us from an experienced medical point of view.

Interview:

Dr. Se Whan Rhee

When do you prefer a woman to have abdominoplasty after giving birth?

Generally speaking about a year later or a year and half. Usually, the stretched belly does return to normal to a degree, but after about a year it does not improve further. So, it is recommended to do the procedure around that time.

How long does the recovery period last?

About a week. After five days, it is OK to walk gently. Many take a week off to do the surgery. Heavy lifting can be done after about three to four months. 

After the surgery, when can the clients start to have physical activities?

When surgery is performed, for about a week or two it is best to walk slightly tilting forward. After four weeks, one can walk fully straght. Light walking can be done after four weeks. Even just two to three weeks after. Heavy physical activities should be refrained from for about three months.

Would the scar be obvious after surgery?

As for scars, 60% to 70% of patients have already had an incision, so the additional incision is only slightly more. So, it does not stand out too much. In cases where the prior scar is highly visible, it can be done with lasers removing the old scars, so the result is actually better than what the patient had before. Usually, the incision line is below the bikini line, so it is not an easily visible scar.

 

Conclusion:

Abdominoplasty or "tummy tuck" is a cosmetic surgery procedure to remove excess tissue from the abdomen. The surgery is commonly used by women who have gone through childbirth recently.

In terms of when to get the procedure, generally, about a year later or a year and half after childbirth is the best time to get abdominoplasty. Usually, the stretched belly does return to normal to a degree, but after about a year it does not improve further. So, it is recommended to do the procedure around that time.

Recovery takes about a week. After five days, it is OK to walk gently. Many take a week off to do the surgery.

After surgery, for about a week or two it is best to walk slightly tilting forward. After four weeks, one can walk fully straight. Light walking can be done after four weeks. Even just two to three weeks after. Heavy physical activities should be refrained from for about three months.

As for scars, 60% to 70% of patients have already had an incision, so the additional incision is only slightly more. So, it does not stand out too much. In cases where the prior scar is highly visible, it can be done with lasers removing the old scars, so the result is actually better than what the patient had before. Usually, the incision line is below the bikini line, so it is not an easily visible scar.

Articles

Other Articles