We know how it is. You eat right. You exercise. You do all the things are you supposed to do, but sometimes, it’s just not quite enough. If you’ve decided that it’s time to do a little more than watching your diet and doing crunches, the experts at the Plastic and Cosmetic Center of South Texas are here to help.
Abdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck, is a common cosmetic surgery procedure. This procedure can flatten your stomach and give you that look that diet and exercise have failed to do (though we still recommend you stick with all of that for your overall health and well-being).
A tummy tuck can also correct the look of sagging abdominal skin if you’ve recently lost weight or have that post-baby belly that never quite goes away. It also tightens the muscles in the abdominal wall to create a more pleasing appearance. In some cases, a tummy tuck procedure can even restore damaged, weakened or separated abdominal muscles. What a tummy tuck can’t do, however, is correct stretch marks, although it is possible that the surgery will improve them – particularly if they are located on the skin that is being tucked.
It’s important to remember that although the procedure creates a permanent change, fluctuations in your weight can bring back some of the unpleasant appearance you wanted to lose. It’s very important that anyone considering getting pregnant again or planning to keep losing weight put off their tummy tuck until a better time.
Once you have had your consultation with one of our doctors and made the decision to schedule your procedure, there are a few things involved in preparing for the surgery. Basic lab testing and medical evaluations will be performed, and if you are taking certain medications that affect bleeding, you may be advised to alter your dose or stop taking them temporarily. If you are a smoker, you must quit smoking at least two weeks prior to surgery. This is a very important step as smoking can slow healing and cause complications in your surgery and recovery. If you haven’t already quit, here’s your reason to do so.
The procedure itself should take between one and four hours, depending on your individual surgery. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the approximate time beforehand. It can be performed on an outpatient basis, under general anesthesia, though sometimes a brief hospital stay is required. Your outpatient or inpatient status will be decided by your doctor, based on what is best for you.
Recovering from a tummy tuck can take some time. Generally, full recovery can take six months or more. For the first few days, bed rest is vital. This is the most important thing you can do to help manage pain and avoid complications that accompany any surgical procedure.
Your doctor will talk to you about medications for pain management. Do not take over-the-counter or aspirin — these medications can cause bleeding. You will also be advised against drinking any alcoholic beverages while recovering and while continuing to take any pain medication. You will be wearing a special bandage for a while as well, and your doctor will advise you on how to rest comfortably while wearing it so that healing can progress.
A tummy tuck will also result in a scar that stretches across your lower abdomen, though it is generally located low enough that a bikini will cover it. Your surgeon will advise you about abdominoplasty based on your personal goals and lifestyle.
Instructions about medications, how to care for the surgery site (including drains, if you have them) and any other vital information will be given to you by your surgeon. You will be advised to take several weeks or up to a month off from work and any physical activity – it is likely to be six to eight weeks before you can return to a very physical lifestyle.
Remember that even though this is a common procedure, it is still a surgical procedure. Be sure to follow all recovery instructions — even if you feel well enough to get out of bed or try moving around, don’t. Listen to all medical instructions and follow them to the letter. That’s how to get the most out of your tummy tuck so you can feel confident that you will look your best.
At the Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Center of South Texas in San Antonio, we welcome your questions about tummy tucks. Call today to schedule a consultation. Our staff of trained professionals is here to answer your questions.