Also known as a tummy tuck, an abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure that tightens the abdominal walls and removes excess skin to create a flatter contour of the abdomen for patients with stubborn areas of fat that have not responded to traditional diet and exercise. This effective procedure tones the abdomen and provides an overall slimmer appearance that patients will be proud to show off. As one of the popular cosmetic procedures here in The Woodlands & Houston, a tummy tuck procedure may restore a sensual body profile with a flatter abdomen after a weight loss procedure or after pregnancy when one’s abdomen has developed some loosening of skin and produced a lot of stretch marks.
What is a Mini-Abdominoplasty or Mini-Tummy Tuck?
A mini-abdominoplasty, or mini tummy tuck, is similar to an abdominoplasty, but involves shorter incisions and an overall less invasive procedure, which is ideal for patients with fat localized in the lower abdomen. Many patients choose this procedure to benefit from less scarring and shorter recovery times.
Who is a Tummy Tuck candidate?
An ideal candidate for a tummy tuck would be anyone with loose or sagging skin within the abdominal area, which is caused by an abnormal relaxation of the abdominal wall muscles, commonly occurring after multiple pregnancies or previous surgery in the area.
Another good candidate is someone who has excess fat and loose skin that has not responded to diet and exercise.
It is important for patients to maintain realistic expectations for this procedure, and realize that abdominoplasty is not to be used for substantial weight loss, and is instead for patients close to their ideal weight who have areas of stubborn fat in the abdominal area. Pregnancy or substantial weight loss after treatment can result in stretched, sagging skin, so patients are encouraged to postpone surgery until after these events.
What happens during a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty procedure?
For most patients, abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia in a hospital or outpatient surgical facility. During the abdominoplasty procedure, an incision is made across the lower abdomen and around the belly button. Through these incisions, the surgeon will remove excess fat and tissue from the targeted area and pull the muscles closer together before stitching them in place to create a firmer abdomen and narrower waist.
Once the abdominal walls have been strengthened and repositioned, the skin flap is pulled down, stretched and cut for the new naval fixture. The belly button is reattached and all incisions are closed using a suture that dissolves with time. Dr. De La Cruz, a Houston Plastic Surgeon who developed the “Celtic-Cross Technique” for umbilical reconstruction (creation of a “belly button”), creates a heart-shaped belly button that looks natural and aesthetically pleasing.
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty takes two to five hours to perform under general anesthesia. Additional procedures, such as liposuction, may be added to produce the best result suited to your body habitus. Dr. De La Cruz typically combines the procedure with VASER Liposculpture to produce the best results. He will develop a customized treatment plan for you based on the amount of fat to be removed, as well as your age and overall health.
Are there different abdominoplasty or tummy tuck procedures?
A mini-abdominoplasty removes the lower abdominal wall skin only with no manipulation of the umbilicus or belly button (shortest scar).
A modified abdominoplasty is ideal for patients who require repair of just the muscle walls or abdominal skin
Standard abdominoplasty involve a tightening of the all of the abdominal wall skin and muscles with a standard scar.
An extended abdominoplasty tightens the abdomen as well as the flanks (sides), resulting in the longest scar that extends onto the lower back.
What is recovery like after abdominoplasty?
After the abdominoplasty procedure, patients may experience mild swelling, bruising and discomfort. Compression garments are worn and a temporary tube may be inserted under the skin to drain excess fluid from the incision. Patients should avoid strenuous activity and lifting heavy objects for several weeks. You can likely return to work after a week or two.
Recovery times will range for each individual patient, but can vary from two weeks to a few months. Your doctor will provide individual post-operative instructions to help facilitate the healing process and allow for a more efficient return to regular activities
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Before & After Abdominoplasty with VASER Liposuction performed
by Dr. De La Cruz
When will results be visible?
The results of an abdominoplasty are visible right away and will continue to improve over time. Patients can achieve a flatter, more toned abdominal area that fits the natural contours of the body. Many patients look and feel younger and slimmer, and benefit from an improved self-confidence as well.
With a balanced diet and regular exercise, results are long-lasting. It is important to be aware that becoming pregnant or gaining or losing a substantial amount of weight may affect the results of this procedure and require additional surgery to recreate the results.
Are there any risks associated with the abdominoplasty procedure?
As with any type of surgical procedure, there are certain risks associated with abdominoplasty, including incisional scars, asymmetry, loss of sensation, skin loss, “dog ears”, fluid accumulation, blood clots and more. We aim to provide the safest and most effective results so that patients can achieve their goals without worrying about these complications.