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Procedure: FAQ Abdominoplasty


FAQ Abdominoplasty

1. What will an abdominoplasty do for me?

An abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) will remove excess skin, excess fat(through liposuction and direct surgical excision) and tighten the underlying abdominal muscles. During the surgery, hernias can often times get repaired and the appearance of the umbilicus (belly button)will be improved.

2. The scar seems like it is quite long. Where is it located and can you make it shorter?

The length of the scar reflects the extent of skin laxity present on a patient. Well-meaning attempts to shorten these scars usually result in patient disappointment, since residual excess loose tissue will still be noticeable over the thighs and hips, especially when sitting. Currently, the most effective way of getting rid of loose skin and fat is surgical removal and, like it or not, this involves scars of some sort. Of course, a plastic surgeon with an aesthetic sensibility will make every effort to keep the scars short and low enough to be hidden in current bikini styles.

3. How long will it take for my scar to fade?

This depends upon your inherent biochemistry (determined by your genetic structure) and the manner with which the surgeon closes your incision. I close my abdominoplasties in multiple layers and make sure the the strength of the closure lies in the deeper tissues and not at the skin edge (remember, there is a good deal of tension in pulling two edges of skin together in a tummy tuck similar to the tension exerted on a seam line when a 170 lb woman gets into a size 2 dress!) . This concept translates into better scars especially when meticulous stitching is also thrown into the mix. The average abdominoplasty scar takes about 6-12 months to fade.

4. What happens if it doesn't?

It will to some extent. However, if certain areas of the scar remain discoloured (pink or brown) and /or raised, then we can utilize modern laser therapy, silicone sheeting and judicious use of modified cortisone injections to treat the remaining problems. As a last resort, a small scar revision may be necessary.

5. Will a tummy tuck get rid of my stretch marks?

To the extent that the surgeon is able to safely incorporate them within the area of actual skin and fat to be removed, then yes. The remaining stretch marks will be improved in appearance because they will be stretched tightly and moved inferiorly towards the pubic region. Generally, the stretch marks that extend above your umbilicus will not be removed, only improved.

6. I hear it can sometimes be quite painful. Is it?

To put this in perspective, a Cesarian section is generally rated an 8 out of 10 in terms of pain (10 being worst). A tummy tuck rates on average a 5 - 6 out of 10. However, with progress comes good news. Pain pumps are a welcome new addition to the field of Plastic Surgery. It allows us to strategically deliver controlled amounts of non-narcotic pain medicine directly to the operative site through minute catheters. Patients report their pain after a pain pump-assisted abdominoplasty as a low 2 out of 10. That is progress!

7. Do you use drains?

Yes. Otherwise, the fluid that results from the inflamed tissue after surgery will accumulate behind the abdomial skin and fat requiring more invasive procedures to remove it. Most drains are removed when they drain less than 30 cc in a 24-hour period; generally, this point is reached between 3-5 days after the procedure.

8. It is 3 weeks after the surgery and I thought I was going to be flatter. What can be done?

Patience! it is absolutely normal for patients to feel bloated and still fat in the postoperative period. Rest assured that this represents normal postoperative swelling and retained "water weight' and will diminish after about 2-3 months.

9. I am very numb along my lower stomach. What is wrong?

There is nothing wrong. It is absolutely normal to have numbness and even stiffness around the lower portion of your abdomen after an abdominoplasty. This will dissipate with time.

10. When can I go back in the sun and exercise again?

If you feel "up to it", you can return to mild exercise (stationary bicycle, treadmill, light weights, etc.) after 4 weeks, using an appropriate abdominal-binder or back-brace for added support and safety. However, it is not recommended to return to any form of abdominal exercise for 3 months. Avoid sun till all the bruising is gone. Don't tan the scar till the pinkness is gone.

Randal Haworth, MD
436 North Bedford Drive Suite 105
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 273-3000 (310) 273-8802 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.