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Monday, May 11, 2015

Tummy Tuck

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One option post-weight loss

Many women are working hard to lose weight and succeeding. For many of those women, however, a new problem arises: unsightly loose skin around the abdomen, often referred to as a “muffin top,” that can lead to self-consciousness. Abdominal exercises such as crunches are sometimes ineffective in toning this loose skin. Fortunately, there is a solution that can rid these women of unwanted flab, providing a flatter stomach and slimmer waistline: a tummy tuck.

“A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a procedure that tightens the loose skin of the upper and lower abdomen common in women after pregnancy and weight loss,” Dr. Daniel Knight, of Knight and Sanders Plastic Surgery, said. “Essentially, all of the skin below the belly button is removed, and the loose skin of the upper abdomen is stretched tightly over the belly button and sewn into the lower abdominal skin. Typically, the abdominal muscles are tightened at the same time.”

The tummy tuck is not really a weightloss method. It is primarily used for women who have already lost a significant amount of weight, through diet, exercise or after a pregnancy. “Although some fat is removed with the lower abdominal skin, the procedure is primarily a skin tightening procedure which improves contour and not a procedure which removes a lot of fat,” Knight said. “Ideally, for patients to get the best and most immediate result, they should be close to their ideal body weight. Heavier patients can have more complications and won’t get the same result as a thinner patient unless they lose weight.”

In fact, Knight points out that losing weight through successful diet and exercise will result in a more successful tummy tuck. “The more excess fat that is removed with weight loss, the better overall result patients will see with their tummy tuck,” Knight said. “If heavier patients can’t lose weight on their own after a tummy tuck, liposuction can be safely performed months after the tummy tuck to improve their result.” The contouring that a tummy tuck provides often motivates women to maintain their hard-sought weight loss.

Thankfully, women who elect to undergo the procedure are not in for a lengthy hospital stay. “Tummy tuck surgery is considered major surgery but very safe in healthy patients,” Knight said. “The procedure takes about two hours to perform and patients go home the same day.” After the procedure, patients will need to an additional visit to remove two drain tubes, usually after about five to six days. Women should also expect to need some recovery time.

“Patients need about two weeks of recovery before wearing regular clothes, driving and being able to resume normal daily activities,” Knight said. “Because of muscle tightening, patients will be unable to do any heavy lifting or abdominal exercise for a full six weeks.”

New mothers and women with physically demanding jobs should keep these limitations in mind when planning the procedure.

In Knight’s experience, women are generally pleased with the results and experience few long-term side effects. “In healthy patients, serious complications are rare,” Knight said. “Some of the more common side effects include noticeable scars, swelling and wound-healing problems. These are all things that improve with time, but realistically, it can take months for all of the swelling to resolve and over a year before the scar completely matures and fades.”

Knight said women should have realistic expectations going into the tummy tuck.

“Patients who get the best results are those who are close to their ideal body weight,” Knight said. “They can expect to restore their abdomen to what it was before their first pregnancy or before their weight gain, much tighter and flatter. For patients who have stretch marks, these are often significantly reduced if not completely removed. Heavier patients will get a tighter stomach, but they will need to lose weight, either before or after surgery, to give them a flat stomach.

Remember, this procedure mainly removes skin and any areas of excess fat might remain.”

–Kirk Fontenot

Learn more:

For more information about tummy tucks and other body contouring procedures, go to the Knight and Sanders Plastic Surgery website at KnightandSanders.com.

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