Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is most commonly thought of as a way to remove excess skin and smooth out a loose, stretched out belly. But abdominoplasty is more than just a superficial fix.
Tummy tuck also tightens the muscles of the belly wall, often loosened by pregnancy or weight gain. This stretching and separation of the muscles is called rectus diastasis or diastasis recti. These muscles are key to the abdominal “core”, providing strength and stability to the entire body. Repairing the core improves appearance, but more importantly strengthens the abdominal wall to help keep the back supported and the whole body stable and strong.
Dr Lee does her Tummy Tuck surgeries as a “come and go” procedure. Extra loose skin is removed, smoothing out the surface of the belly wall. Your belly button is trimmed and tightened to look more natural and youthful. The muscle layer is also tightened, repairing the rectus diastasis and putting all your “core” muscles back into the proper position to provide good abdominal wall strength and support to your back. Sometimes, liposuction of the belly wall is added to the tummy tuck to further sculpt the waist and midriff
Types of Abdominoplasty
Tummy tucks come in different shapes and forms and may be referred to by different names.
Some of these you may have heard are: mini tummy tuck, full tummy tuck, extended tummy tuck, high lateral tension tummy tuck, anchor tummy tuck, fleur de lis and more. A mini tummy tuck addresses the belly below the belly button only, full tummy tuck contours everything from the breast bone to the pelvis, and extended tummy tuck is done with longer than the standard incisions when there is a lot of loose skin. Anchor cut, fleur de lis incisions all refer to ways to take out extra large amounts of skin more common in patients with massive weight loss. High lateral tension abdominoplasty combines the muscle tightening and removal of loose skin with liposuction when needed to create additional contouring of the tummy.
For most patients, Dr. Lee will sew the separated muscles back together, repairing the rectus diastasic.
Other ways to improve the appearance of a full belly may involve liposuction or CoolSculpting®. CoolSculpting® is a non-surgical process of permanent fat reduction through freezing of fat cells. Liposuction is a surgical process of removing fat through small incisions. This is done in the operating room. Neither of these procedures will remove extra skin, but CoolSculpting® appears to tighten skin somewhat better than liposuction. Muscle tightening repair of the rectus diastasis can only be accomplished with surgery.
Your private consultation is your opportunity to learn about the best way to trim up your tummy. Dr. Lee and you will discuss your concerns and goals. Examination will assess the presence of rectus diastasis and the amount of loose skin that might be removed. The pros and cons of different approaches, both non-surgical and surgical will be explained so that you can make an informed decision about your options, understand what Dr. Lee recommends and why those recommendations are being made.
Recovery planning is key to fabulous results, and you will learn what to expect in the first weeks following surgery, how to prepare, and how much time off from work to plan.
At the end of your meeting with Dr. Lee, quotes will provided for the procedures discussed, so that you finish with a full picture of what is involved both physically and financially.
Our goal at ArtfulSurgery is to provide you all the support you need to sail through tummy tuck surgery. We are here to answer questions. Some patients like to check in by phone, others prefer a follow up visit in the office. When you are ready to move forward, call us and we will work to get you on Dr. Lee’s operating schedule.
Once you have worked with Dr. Lee to design the best way to proceed with your tummy tuck, a call to the office will get you scheduled for your surgery at a fully accredited surgical facility.
The surgery is generally done as an outpatient so you will be able to come in in the morning for your procedure and go home afterwards to sleep in your own bed.
Patients usually come back to the office for their first postoperative visit the day after surgery to make sure that all of your new questions are answered.
Rest is necessary for a good recovery and most abdominoplasty patients take 2 weeks off of a desk type job. You will need help during those 2 weeks. Plan on caring for yourself only; have someone else care for the kids, prepare food and do the laundry. Return to heavy lifting, exercising and other activities is somewhat individual and depends on how you feel over the weeks after the procedure. You will see Dr. Lee frequently enough after your surgery to make sure that your healing is going as expected and to help guide your return to your usual routine.
The best way to see what you can expect from your tummy tuck surgery is to see the photos of what Dr. Lee’s other patients have achieved. Check out the photo gallery.