Abdominoplasty is also commonly referred to as “tummy tuck”. Changes to the abdomen can occur after pregnancy (one part of what is referred to as a “mommy makeover”). These changes include loose skin, deposits of fat, or relaxation of the muscles. Abdominoplasty reduces excess fat and skin from the abdomen. The procedure may also help flatten the abdomen by tightening the muscle layer.
It is also done for the changes after weight loss and can be done for men and women. Abdominoplasty is not a substitute for weight loss. Most patients with realistic expectations are happy after this procedure. Iowa Plastic Surgery has treated many patients from marathon runners that have a protruding abdominal wall after twins, to patients who have lost hundreds of pounds.
Deep fat, metabolic syndrome, or belly fat is not improved by an abdominoplasty. This weight is around the intestines and can only be lost by diet and exercise. A good diet and exercise program will improve the results of abdominoplasty.
Some patients will have the abdominoplasty after they have achieved their ideal weight. Others will seek improvement after weight loss and while they are stuck at a plateau. Often the reduction of extra skin allows further improvement.
There are several types of abdominoplasty
Mini abdominoplasty – The scar is shorter, but only the lower abdomen is improved. Best candidates are thinner and have an abdominal wall that needs tightening, and not much loose skin.
Full abdominoplasty – the scar goes from hip to hip, and one scar is around the belly button stalk. It tightens the skin of the entire abdomen. Frequently the abdominal wall is tightened with internal stitches. Liposuction is often done as well.
Extended abdominoplasty – When there is loose skin on the sides, the extended abdominoplasty can tighten that as well. The most common candidate is someone with either significant weight loss, loose skin, or both. The scar is obviously longer, and recovery may longer or more complicated.
Belt lipectomy or lower body lift – The scar goes all the way around and is usually done after massive weight loss for circumferential loose skin.
Any abdominoplasty still does not give the person new skin and the quality of that skin has been affected by age or pregnancy. The skin of the upper abdomen and sides may have some laxity. Patients are disappointed when they visualize that their body is a solid that is sculpted down to a improved version underneath. An abdominoplasty makes the person look better in tight clothes, or a one piece swimsuit. The surgeon cannot guarantee you will look good in a bikini and the persons own skin quality will determine that result.
Scarring: Optimal scars are not done under the tension an abdominoplasty has from tightening. Some patients will form thicker scars, or wider scars. The scar may be higher than desired due to pulling, or uneven due to shifting.
Healing: Sometimes the blood supply is impaired and the skin flap does not heal resulting in loss of skin. Patients should refrain from smoking for 2 months before and after the operation to minimalize this risk. Other abdominal scars also contribute to this risk
Hematoma or Seroma: A few patients may have bleeding called a hematoma that requires removal. Others may accumulate fluid that has to be aspirated.
Numbness: The lower abdomen is usually numb after this surgery. Most patients do not find this to be an issue.
Infection: This operation, like all operations, can result in infection.
Other rarer complications can result sometimes from hernias or other unforeseen problems.
Disappointing results: Intra-abdominal fat or deep fat will limit the results. The abdominal wall cannot safely be liposuctioned thin at the time of a tummy tuck. Some patients will elect to have additional liposuction later. Some patients will have unrealistic expectations or body dysmorphic disorder.
Abdominoplasty Patient Experiences
“I had an abdominoplasty with liposuction on my flanks and back. Dr. Van Raalte was always kind, informative, and professional. His support staff were very friendly, knowledgeable, and professional as well. Excellent results and overall experience. Very glad I came to Iowa Plastic Surgery.”
Individual results may vary
“Very happy with my results. I have no regrets with doing the surgery. Just wish I would have done it sooner. My clothes look and fit so much better now without my stomach bulge.”
Individual results may vary
Click here to read more testimonials from Dr. Van Raalte’s patients