Abdominoplasty is a very popular procedure at Mountain Lake Plastic Surgery, and it’s one that Dr. MacLennan loves to do. As a mother of two herself, she feels it’s a service to other moms! The most common reason that women want to consider a tummy tuck is to reverse the changes that pregnancy can have on our bodies. Alternately, you may have had lots of weight loss, even weight loss surgery, or may simply be dissatisfied with your abdomen even without pregnancy. Whatever your reason, Dr. MacLennan is ready to meet you and discuss your options.
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are women who are at, or fairly close to, a normal healthy weight, and who have loose skin, a “pooch”, or even a small overhang of the lower abdomen. Stretch marks are a common complaint, and women who have needed C-sections are often unhappy with the way their skin overhangs their C-section scar. We know those babies were worth it, but you don’t have to stay unhappy with your mummy tummy!
In general, we’ll use a low incision to lift the skin of the abdomen up off the muscles. The belly button is detached from the skin but left in place. Skin is loosened up to the ribcage. The muscles are tightened like an “internal corset”, and the extra skin below the belly button is removed. Liposuction helps contour the waist. The skin is advanced and secured back down to the abdominal wall with internal stitches, and a new opening is made for the belly button. Dissolving stitches and tape complete the closure, and you’ll be ready to admire your new flat tummy.
Abdominoplasty requires time for recovery. Even with newer techniques and enhanced recovery pathways, we still recommend 3 weeks off work in most cases, as well as help with your kids if they’re young. You’ll wear a snug binder or compression garment (like Spanx) for a few weeks to control swelling, and you’ll massage your incision to help it fade faster.
For more information regarding abdominoplasty, feel free to contact the staff at Mountain Lake Plastic Surgery at (802) 231-4284.
Dr. MacLennan was amazing and i would. Highly recommended her. She is very knowledgeable and informative and honest with your outcome. I feel she did a great job on my tummy and i would definitely recommend her to anyone considering plastic surgery.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABDOMINOPLASTY?
Yes, there are several different variations:
Full abdominoplasty is Dr. MacLennan’s most common recommendation. You’ll have a hip-to-hip incision, full muscle tightening, and removal of the skin and fat from your belly button to your pubic area. The belly button is still your original belly button, but it’s sewn into a new “button-hole”. We’ll use liposuction to complete the shaping of your abdomen.
Mini-abdominoplasty involves a similar incision (sometimes slightly shorter), with removal of only some of the lower tummy skin and no relocation of the belly button. Women who have more limited loose skin, mostly below the belly button, are sometimes good candidates for a mini.
A fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty is sometimes done for women who have lost a large amount of weight and need tightening in both vertical and horizontal directions. This involves a long vertical incision in addition to the hip-to-hip incision, and ends up looking like a large “T.”
Come in to see Dr. MacLennan for a personal consultation, and she’ll help you determine which option is right for you.
SHOULD I CHOOSE ABDOMINOPLASTY OR LIPOSUCTION?
Liposuction is a good option for women who have good skin tone, are very close to ideal body weight, and have no “overhang” of the lower abdominal skin. Are you dissatisfied with carrying extra fat or a “pooch” in the abdomen? Liposuction can thin the layer of fat under your skin but won’t tighten up the skin.
If you’re unhappy with your abdomen because of loose skin, stretch marks, loose or separated abdominal muscles (rectus diastasis), or feel like you still “look pregnant,” you’re probably a better candidate for abdominoplasty. Liposuction is often used for extra contouring along with an abdominoplasty, but it can’t correct loose skin or stretch marks by itself. Many of us who’ve had babies still have some loose belly skin and stretch marks; these are best addressed with abdominoplasty.
IF I SMOKE, CAN I HAVE A TUMMY TUCK?
Smoking can significantly affect your ability to heal due to altered blood supply. We can’t safely offer abdominoplasty to active smokers. You’ll need to quit smoking and all nicotine to be a safe candidate for surgery.
IS ABDOMINOPLASTY PART OF A “MOMMY MAKEOVER”?
Yes, abdominoplasty is often part of a “Mommy Makeover”. Dr. MacLennan regularly offers all of the usual components of Mommy Makeover in combination and as stand-alone procedures. Mommy Makeover refers to combinations of cosmetic breast and abdominal surgery such as abdominoplasty, liposuction, and breast augmentation and lift. The goal is to improve some of the changes that happen to women’s bodies after pregnancy and childbirth. Each Mommy Makeover is carefully tailored to the specific needs and desires of the mommy- you!
IS IT SAFE TO COMBINE OTHER PROCEDURES WITH ABDOMINOPLASTY?
In very healthy women, Dr. MacLennan can combine cosmetic breast and abdomen procedures. The risk of developing blood clots in the legs (DVT) can be higher in longer procedures with longer recovery times, so we may prescribe a mild blood thinner for a short time after abdominoplasty in order to prevent blood clots from developing.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
As with any surgery, bleeding and infection are risks, although they happen quite infrequently. If blood supply to the remaining skin and the belly button are poor, there can be healing problems. Fluid can collect under the skin (seroma), requiring drainage with a needle. Numbness on the skin of the abdomen is expected after surgery but can be permanent in places. Scars usually fade well with time, but occasionally can be raised, red, uneven, bumpy, or itchy.
DO YOU USE DRAINS?
Dr. MacLennan has stopped using drains in most abdominoplasties. Instead, she secures the skin back down with “quilting” or “progressive tension” sutures. It takes a little longer and a little more patience to place these extra sutures, but they allow her to fasten the abdominal skin back down to the underlying fascia without placing a drain. The result is less swelling, fewer seromas, less tension on the incision, faster recovery, and happier patients!
WILL I NEED TO STAY IN THE HOSPITAL?
With advances in technique and pain control, most abdominoplasties can be done as same-day surgery. In some cases, we may recommend that you stay in the hospital overnight.
WHAT TYPE OF PAIN CONTROL WILL I NEED?
Dr. MacLennan places a nerve block in the abdominal wall during surgery; this is very effective for pain control during the first 1-3 days. She’ll also prescribe a variety of pain medications designed to keep you comfortable.
WHAT WILL MY RECOVERY BE LIKE?
Some discomfort and overall fatigue are to be expected for several weeks after abdominoplasty. When you first go home, you may feel most comfortable bent at the waist, in a recliner, or propped up in bed. We encourage getting up to stretch your legs and do deep breathing every couple of hours. You can shower right away. Pass off household chores and childcare at first- you need time to recover. We provide compression garments (similar to “Spanx”) that help minimize swelling. You’ll wear them most of the time for the first few weeks. You can go for short walks as soon as you feel up to it, but exercise that raises your heart rate and blood pressure should wait for at least 3 weeks, and heavy lifting should wait for 6 weeks.
Many women are surprised to learn how long the swelling can stick around after abdominoplasty. It can take 3-4 months for most of the swelling to go away, and a year or more for complete recovery including swelling and fading of scars.
WHEN CAN I RETURN TO WORK AFTER ABDOMINOPLASTY?
We generally suggest 3 weeks off work, and possibly longer if you have a very strenuous job. You’ll need to avoid heavy lifting for about 6 weeks while the muscle tightening has time to heal.
WHEN CAN I RETURN TO EXERCISE?
With our drain-free, enhanced recovery tummy tuck, you can return to activity earlier than before. We’ll suggest that you go for short walks during the first week or two after surgery, increasing activity to light cardio after 2-3 weeks. You’ll need to wait about 3-4 weeks before getting your heart rate up too much. If you’re a Cross-Fitter or other strenuous exerciser, it may take 6-8 weeks to be able to get back to your gym. Dr. MacLennan is an avid exerciser herself and understands the desire to get back to exercise for good mental and physical health.