Improve your physical health
You need to be in relatively good physical condition to tolerate this procedure. If you are not careful, you could undo the results of the surgery if you continue to gain weight.
Make sure you don't have any more children
The muscles that are repaired during a tummy tuck can come loose again if you become pregnant later on. Not to mention, additional weight gain during pregnancy can cause more stretch marks.
Steps of the tummy tuck procedure
During an abdominoplasty, your plastic surgeon will remove your sagging abdominal skin and tighten your abdominal muscles with sutures.
Your plastic surgeon will mark your abdomen to indicate the location of the incisions, the center of your torso, and the location of the repositioned umbilicus.
A solution of lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and epinephrine (a vasoconstrictor that stops bleeding by constricting blood vessels) will be injected.
The primary incision for the tummy tuck is above the mons pubis, from one hip bone to the other. For a full tummy tuck, another incision is made around the navel. For a mini tummy tuck, your surgeon uses a shorter incision.
The surgeon loosens the skin from the abdominal wall to the rib cage, and then places sutures in the fascia of the abdominal muscles to pull them into a tighter position. This is the muscle repair portion of the procedure.
Fat reduction and skin tightening
After your abdominal muscles are stitched, your surgeon will remove excess fat through liposuction or other methods. Then, your abdominal skin will be stretched over the incision line, and the excess skin will be removed.
Creating the "new" navel
Next, your surgeon will mark the location of your navel. Although the skin around the navel has been moved, the navel almost always remains in the same place. Your surgeon will cut a hole through the folded-over skin and sew it closed around the navel.
To close the incisions, your surgeon uses tissue adhesives, sutures, staples, or steri-strips.
During a full tummy tuck, the surgeon often inserts one or more drains to prevent fluid buildup that can put pressure on the incision.
The drain is a clear plastic tube placed through a very short incision below the main incision, leading out of the body to a small oval bulb. Each time you drain the tube, and before you reseal it, you will be asked to squeeze it to drain the wound. This will help the surgical site heal.
How long does it take to recover from an abdominoplasty?
Because a tummy tuck is an intense cosmetic procedure, it can take up to 3 months or longer for you to fully recover. Fortunately, most patients recover in less than 6 weeks.
During recovery, you will need to limit physical activities. You will also schedule follow-up appointments with your doctor to review your recovery process. It is very important that you follow your doctor's instructions carefully to avoid complications.