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A tummy tuck, also called abdominoplasty, flattens your abdomen by removing excess fat and skin from the abdominal area and tightening the muscles. People often choose to have a tummy tuck if they have been unable to lose weight in that area of their bodies or after pregnancy or weight loss when the skin and muscles may sag. The plastic surgeons at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, Maryland, will consult with you to individualize your procedure to achieve the best possible results.
After consultation with your cosmetic surgeon, you can decide between two procedures:
- Complete abdominoplasty – In this surgery, the plastic surgeon places the scar very low in the “bikini line” in order to disguise it as much as possible. Excess skin and fat are removed, and sometimes the muscles are repaired to create a flat contoured abdomen.
- Partial or mini abdominoplasty – This type of procedure focuses on one part of the abdomen and requires a smaller scar. Your cosmetic surgeon may opt for endoscopic-assisted surgery, which is less invasive and reduces the amount of time the procedure takes. However, this is reserved for special cases of abdominal muscle weakness and laxity.
What to expect during a tummy tuck
Depending on which abdominoplasty procedure you will have, surgery may take anywhere from 1-3 hours. You will receive general anesthesia or intravenous “twilight” sedation. You may go home the same day and you will be able to function with minimal assistance. You will have drainage tubes in place in order to remove any excess fluid that your body produces. This is normal and the tubes will be removed over 1-2 weeks.
Recovery from a tummy tuck
Recovery will take several weeks. Your doctor can give you medication to reduce the pain. Swelling should begin to disappear in a matter of weeks and resolve completely in a few months. You will have to restrict exercise and other activity as advised by your doctor.
Scars are normal, and they will fade over the course of a year. Your plastic surgeon will take care to ensure that the scars will be hidden by bathing suits and clothes. The surgeon may also recommend scar treatments such as laser that help scars fade and soften.