Frequently Asked Tummy Tuck Questions

Q. Who can benefit from abdominoplasty?

A. Both men and women who have excess skin and/or fat around their waistline can benefit. With men, this condition, regardless of its actual cause, is often called a "beer belly" and can be a turn-off as well as a health risk. Women, who have had children and as a result developed excess skin and loss of abdominal wall integrity, will benefit. The procedure is also used to reduce or eliminate unsightly stretch marks due to pregnancy, to correct umbilical hernias, and to strengthen the abdominal wall (to correct a condition caused by accident or illness). This helps them to look more attractive, especially when wearing slacks or swimwear that can't hide the bulges. Patients typically request a tummy tuck when diet and exercise programs fail, as is often the case.

Q. What causes excess fat or skin?

A. Over-eating in general, eating too many fat-producing foods, excessive liquor consumption, and lack of exercise are the obvious causes of weight (fat) gain, but are not the only ones. Many women who gain excess weight during pregnancy are unable to get rid of unsightly bulges afterwards; if they don't plan to have more children, they may look for this type of surgical correction. Also, persons who have successfully lost a lot of weight via exercise and/or diet, or by gastric-bypass surgery, may end up with excess skin, and the only way to remove it is with an abdominoplasty.

Q. What, exactly, is abdominoplasty?

A. As its name indicates, it's plastic surgery on the abdomen. Commonly (and appropriately) known as a tummy tuck, this procedure not only removes excess skin and/or fat from the abdomen, it also tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall, to better support its contents. In addition, we use state-of-the-art techniques of abdominal wall contouring, hidden incisions, and adjunctive liposuction (see the Q&A on liposuction) for the best possible results.

Q. Who should not undergo this procedure right now?

A. Are you planning to lose a significant amount of weight or have some other abdominal surgery? Are you a woman planning to have more children? If so, we suggest you may consider delay having a tummy tuck at this time. However, if you're a woman planning to have a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation, you may want to have a tummy tuck (performed by a qualified plastic surgeon) at the same time, since the incision is similar. Also, if you are significantly above your ideal body weight, you will not get optimal results from your tummy tuck. Have Dr. Kapoor evaluate your status during your appointment and he will be able to make appropriate recommendations and provide you with realistic goals and expectations.

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Dr. Vishal Kapoor, a Southern California native received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, where he graduated with the highest honor,
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Q. What are the risks?

A. Like all types of plastic surgery, a tummy tuck is surgery. Tens of thousands of tummy tucks are performed worldwide every year, and the vast majority of them are successful. Of course, the more highly qualified the surgeon is (please re-read the qualifications of Dr. Kapoor), the better.

We operate only in a safe, sterile environment and take extra care, at every step, to minimize risk. For example, all patients are fitted with anti embolic stockings and compressions devices to minimize risks of blood clots. We make the length of the incision as short as possible, depending on patient size, weight and body frame. We use state-of-the-art devices and methods to close the incision, although scar healing is genetically determined by the patient. If the scar is too noticeable, after-surgery options include laser treatments, injections or surgical revision. To minimize any risk of infection (which is rare), antibiotics are given before, during, and after the procedure.

If you're a smoker, it can adversely affect scar healing, so you should stop smoking at least six weeks before your surgery. In rare instances, blood clots may accumulate in one or both legs, but this risk can be reduced by walking around soon after surgery.

Q. What happens during surgery?

A. A tummy tuck usually takes about two hours. During the procedure, you'll be under general (not local) anesthesia. After marking exactly where the incision will be made-above the pubic bone to just below the hip area- an incision is made, a flap of skin is lifted, and excess skin is removed. The muscles are tightened, using numerous sutures (which later dissolve by themselves), and the belly button is brought out through a new opening in a new location. Finally, all the incisions are closed with more sutures.

Q. What happens after surgery?

A. You'll wake up in the recovery room, and find that you now have a small drainage tube near your surgical area. It's there to remove fluid your body produces in response to the surgery. This tube should be kept in place for about two weeks. In some cases, more fluid may collect later on and will need to be removed.

After a few hours in the recovery room, if there are no complications (there rarely are) you will be discharged and allowed to go home; have someone drive you. Or, if you prefer, you may want to spend a day or two in the hospital to recover further.

We will prescribe pain medications, muscle relaxants, and antibiotics for you to take during the two weeks following surgery. Also, for about one month after surgery, wearing a support garment will be very beneficial.

One week after surgery, external sutures will be removed in our office, and a week later, we'll remove the drainage tube. Complete recovery usually takes four to six weeks, but if you have a desk job you can probably return to it in about two weeks. Meanwhile, you should keep in touch with our office for at least three months, or as long as six months in some cases.

Q. When will I feel like my normal self again?

A. Allow about two months. It will take several months for your scar to heal and to lighten or fade away (although it will never disappear completely). Just remember to eat healthy, non-fattening foods and to exercise regularly from now on. One tummy tuck per lifetime is the norm. And don't smoke, especially while your scar is healing.

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Dr. Vishal Kapoor MD is a Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon who performs facial and body procedures in
Beverly Hills & Los Angeles, California in his fully accredited plastic surgery center. ® Copyright 2009