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What Is a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy Tuck Dubai | 8 April 2019

A “tummy tuck,” aka an abdominoplasty, targets two main issues: excess skin and a separation between the abdominal muscles. As a bonus, it also takes care of excess fat. It doesn’t really matter how much fat you have, what really matters for this procedure is the skin and the muscle. While also removing excess fat via liposuction (more on that later), the first differentiating factor of a tummy tuck is that it can help target the excess skin or stretch marks from pregnancy or a significant weight loss. In fact, experts say a tummy tuck may be the only way to get rid of loose, sagging skin. Once the elastic gets too loose, you can put a safety pin in it, but by and large, the elastic is shot. Then there’s the muscle issue. We’re all born with a little separation between both sides of the rectus muscle, [aka your ‘six pack’] — maybe a half an inch or so. But with age, certain lifestyle factors, and definitely pregnancy, that muscle separates further. The result is like the loosening of a corset. Unfortunately, once these muscles spread, the only true way to “bring them back” is via surgery. A tummy tuck brings the muscle edges together, which acts like an internal corset, pulling your belly in.

The Steps of a Tummy Tuck

First, a surgeon “will make an incision, which stretches across your bikini line. Through this incision, your surgeon will not only be able to remove skin but will also be able to tighten your abdominal muscle. The surgeon will lift your skin away from the underlying muscles and then stitch the muscles together, restoring the tightness.

Next, the surgeon will address the skin, pulling it tight and removing any excess. To picture this, think of your stomach as a football field running from your chest to the top of your pubic hair – your belly button is the middle of it. In a full tummy tuck, the skin that’s above the belly button gets pulled down and does double duty to cover the upper and lower abdomen. So if you have a mole above your belly button before the operation, it’s going to be below it after. Speaking of belly buttons, don’t worry, it’s not suddenly going to be sitting on your bikini line. The surgeon will make a new hole for your belly button to emerge from.

Mini vs. Full Tummy Tuck

How involved this whole process gets depends on the type of tummy tuck in question — a “mini” or a full: A mini runs from inner thigh to inner thigh and a full spans the stomach from hip to hip. The difference between the two procedures is the length of the incision and  the amount of skin that can be removed. (One other difference: In a mini tummy tuck, the surgeon usually only stitches up the lower half of the rectus muscles.) While they’re in there, surgeons might also address any excess fat, removing it the way they would during traditional liposuction. Before finishing the procedure, the surgeon places drains in your stomach to remove any extra fluid that accumulates as you heal, allowing the newly stretched skin to stick to the muscle. (The drains will be removed by your surgeon after about a week.)

The Recovery Process

Even though it’s major surgery — you’ll be under anesthesia for the two-and-a-half to four hours it takes to perform — tummy tucks are technically out-patient procedures, meaning you can go home after spending a couple hours in the recovery room. But you will have to do a lot of recouping after you get home. I generally advise my patients to take two weeks off of work. Light walking right after surgery is advised, but no hitting the gym for at least two weeks. By about five weeks, the patient can usually return to normal activities depending on their individual progress. The recovery process can be painful. It will take a few days to a week before you feel comfortable standing fully erect. Patients often walk slightly bent over due to the tightness of their abdomens.

Who Is a Candidate?

Not everyone is a tummy tuck candidate. This procedure is most commonly performed on women in their 40s and 50s, after they have finished having children. Remember, it has nothing to do with fat. The muscle repair and skin removal are the differentiating factors of the surgery. So, for those who might have excess fat, but not muscle separation or loose skin, or for those who plan on having children, doctors don’t recommend a tummy tuck. I looked at large volumes of statistics, and about 55 percent of women that come in the door [with concerns about their stomach] have liposuction, while about 45 percent need a tummy tuck. In males, it’s about 90 percent that end up needing liposuction and only about 10 percent that are better candidates for tummy tucks. Identifying which procedure is right for you — noninvasive body-sculpting, liposuction, mini or full tummy tuck — can be tricky, unless you’re a board-certified plastic surgeon. There are different roles for each procedure,.

How Does the Tummy Tuck Compare to Body-Sculpting Procedures?

If you’re hoping to get tummy tuck-like results on your lunch break, you’re out of luck. Noninvasive procedures can’t come close to achieving the results of a tummy tuck. In short, body-contouring procedures, like CoolSculpting and SculpSure, are surface level. They work by either freezing or heating fat cells to kill them off, which is great for stubborn squishy spots no amount of diet and exercise seem to effect, but won’t do anything to address the sagging skin or underlying muscle separation the tummy tuck targets. If a patient’s primary issue is excess fat, noninvasive options can usually reduce superficial fat by 25 percent, on average. So, for someone who does not need dramatic fat reduction, non-invasive options may be reasonable.

Or Liposuction?

But what about lipo? Liposuction can remove significantly more fat than noninvasive body contouring, but that’s all it can do. Liposuction will only remove fat. It will not tighten loose muscles. Plus, if you’re concerned about loose skin, liposuction can actually make the problem worse. I think many patients look to new technology hoping to avoid surgical costs and downtime but patients who would really benefit from a tummy tuck will be frustrated by how limited the difference is.