If you ask any woman what she dislikes about her body, chances are that the answer will start and stop with her abdomen. While everyone is genetically inclined to carry weight in different areas, childbirth, age, weight gain/loss and changing hormone levels can all have an adverse effect on the skin and tissues of the stomach in particular. Hanging loose skin, excess pockets of fat, and loose muscles resistant to exercise can severely limit the ability to wear the clothes that patients would like. It’s also not a look that makes any of us feel good in our skin, especially when it used to not be that way.
What is a tummy tuck?
An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure aimed to tighten and shape the skin and muscles of the stomach. While it has always been an extremely popular procedure, to improve your shape, fit into clothes better and improve your confidence, there is now overwhelming evidence that the surgery will help with low back pain, core strength weakness, intertrigo as well as urinary incontinence for some women.
The reason how an Abdominoplasty can provide so much help is that as part of the tummy tuck we repair the rectus diastasis (muscle separation after pregnancy) in addition to removing the skin from the umbilicus to the pubis. This not only restores the trunk to its pre-pregnancy shape, but it also re-establishes core strength, essential in allowing your abdominal muscles to function efficiently and effectively. The improvement in core stability is why this is such an effective operation for women suffering the symptoms related to muscle weakness postpartum.
The other major advance in Tummy Tuck is the ability to combine the surgery with breast surgery. The Mummy Makeover. Quite commonly women seeking improvement in their abdomen have had similar changes in their breasts. The breast surgery may consist of a breast reduction, a breast lift or a breast augmentation.
As some plastic surgeons have super specialised into specific areas such as breast and tummy, we have become more proficient at the surgeries allowing us to combine common operations that previously were done separately. The benefit of combing these surgeries are self-evident: one anaesthetic, one hospital visit, one recovery period. This means less time away from work, exercise and family.
The combined effect of rejuvenation to these complementary areas is more than additive. A flatter abdomen will relatively improve your breast projection and a perkier lifted breast will have the effect of shortening your chest and lengthening your abdomen, giving you far improved body proportions.
Mini Tummy Tuck
The other “latest advancement” is not an advancement at all, its marketing spin. The “mini” Tummy Tuck. This is one of the most overhyped procedure in plastic surgery today. It preys on women wanting an operation and trying to portray it as something less than an operation, but with the same outcome. We don’t even truly know what it exactly refers to. But here are the possible explanations:
Shorter scar Tummy Tuck.
Keep the scar short. Shorter scars are better.
Great idea in principle, however, if there is excess skin to the sides then it needs to be removed, this means a longer scar.
The tummy tuck scar is one of the best-tolerated scars in plastic surgery. If kept low, it is hidden in all clothes and underwear. Why would you want to compromise your contour for a slightly shorter scar that no one sees?
A short scar also often leads to dog ears. The solution – cut out the dog ears, making the scar the same length it would have been anyway.
The only other way to keep the scar short and avoid a dog ear is to have the scar higher. A longer lower scar is always better.
Avoid a scar around the belly button
This will result in a belly button down near your mons. No one wants that. I’ve seen it on other patients and it just looks weird.
There are occasions where this may be ok, but they are rare.
No muscle repair
Have a faster recovery and avoid the muscle repair
The muscle repair is one of the key elements of a Tummy tuck, especially for women. If you need it, you need it.
Drainless Tummy Tuck
Drains are painful and cumbersome and slow your recovery. Techniques such as tissue glues and progressive tension suturing avoid the need for drains.
Drains are rarely a hassle or painful. They are useful to help the tissues stick together and to remove fluid that builds up. One of the most common issues associated with a Tummy Tuck. Leaving the fluid in, will slow your healing much more than a couple of days of having a drain tube. It can affect the final contour as well as leaving you with excessive swelling.
We have done drainless tummy tucks and know all the “tricks” people use to avoid them. We always use drains in a tummy tuck for a simple reason. It gives a better outcome.