Abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure that tightens the abdomen. This is accomplished by removing excess fat and skin from the middle and lower abdomen and tightening the muscles in the area.
This procedure can severely reduce the bulging appearance of the abdomen. On the other hand, it leaves a permanent scar that can be more or less long, depending on the extent of the original problem and the surgery needed to correct it.
What patient profiles require abdominoplasty?
The profiles of users who require a surgical procedure on the abdomen are those people, men or women, who have a good silhouette but are concerned about the accumulation of fat or excess skin in the abdomen and are unable to improve it, despite diet or sport.
Abdominoplasty is especially useful in women who have had several pregnancies, after which the abdominal skin and muscles have relaxed and have not returned to their original tone. It can also help to recover the elasticity of the skin in older people, a situation often associated with overweight or minimal obesity.
Those patients who for one reason or another must lose a lot of weight should postpone the operation, as well as women who intend to have future pregnancies, since during surgery the vertical muscles of the abdomen are tightened and may relax again in the course of new pregnancies.
Abdominoplasty: what does it consist of?
The type of anesthesia most commonly used by specialists in plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery to perform an abdominoplasty is general anesthesia, so the patient will be asleep until the end of the operation. In some cases epidural anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation may be used, so that during surgery the patient will be awake but relaxed, and the abdomen is insensitive to pain.
A complete abdominoplasty usually lasts between two and four hours, depending on each case. A mini-abdominoplasty usually lasts between one and two hours. The abdominoplasty is performed through a long incision from one hip to the other, just above the pubis. It is placed as low as possible and a second incision is made around the navel, in order to separate it from the tissues around the area.
The skin is then separated from the abdominal wall upward to the ribs, exposing the abdominal muscles which are tightened and pulled together at the midline, thus providing a firm abdomen and a narrower waistline. The separated skin is stretched in the direction of the pubis and the excess skin is removed; the navel is placed in its new position. Sutures are made and two drainage tubes are placed for a while to remove excess fluids that may accumulate in the operated area. Finally, a compression garment is left in place to make compression in the abdomen.
Patients will wear a girdle on the abdomen when leaving the operating room. The hospital stay is usually one day, although a small percentage of patients require two days of hospitalization.
During the first few days the abdomen is usually somewhat swollen and may notice some discomfort that is controlled with medication. Although the skin should not be stretched during the first week, the patient should start walking as soon as possible. The external skin stitches will be removed after the first week and the internal stitches, whose ends come out through the ends of the incision, will be removed in the following two weeks.
If the patient’s physical condition prior to surgery is good, including a strong abdominal musculature, recovery after abdominoplasty will be faster. The time for patients to return to work is usually between two or three weeks, depending on each individual case.
Physical exercise helps to recover sooner but this has to be done in moderation. Those patients who are not in the habit of doing sports and are awaiting surgery should exercise the area with specific movements to avoid complications.
It takes up to nine months or a year for the scars to lighten or flatten. It is absolutely normal for them to present a certain volume and a reddish color beforehand.
Whenever surgery is performed there are certain risks, as well as complications arising from this particular procedure. Poor healing may require a new surgical intervention.
Patients who smoke should stop smoking before abdominoplasty is performed because smoking increases the possibility of complications and delays healing.