If you cringe with pain when you hear the words "tummy tuck," maybe some recent advances will change your opinion. A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is an operation used to remove lower abdominal skin and tighten muscles after childbirth or significant weight loss. Traditionally, a tummy tuck was associated with
significant pain and a prolonged recovery. Many patients were told to walk bent over from a week or two. Significant changes in the tummy tuck procedure have enhanced the outcome and make the recovery easier.
To begin with, plastic surgeons have realized that tighter is not only not better, but can actually make things worse. Research, particularly in breast reconstruction, has shown that beyond a certain degree of tightness, muscles and skin simply stretch. The goal of a tummy tuck is to achieve the ideal amount of tightness that gives a great result, while avoiding the excessive tightness that is associate with prolonged pain and recovery.
For instance, muscle repair is precisely performed to restore abdominal shape and function while at the same time allowing the patient to comfortably stand up straight on the first day after surgery. Similarly, excess skin is removed, but only to a reasonable tension. This avoids the patient feeling excessively tight, and contributes to a better scar. By controlling tension and thus limiting post operative discomfort, patients can recover more quickly and most can return to work in an office within a week or two.
All tummy tucks involve some type of incision. The incision is closed with dissolvable sutures under the skin. This means there are no cross hatches across the incision and there is no need to remove sutures. Additionally, the wound is covered with surgical adhesive, which means there is no need for bandages and patients can bathe normally on the first day after surgery.