If there was one thing about our bodies on which we could all agree it would probably be that we would like a flat tummy. Unfortunately, few of us have one, especially as we get older. This is because the abdomen can be especially stubborn when it comes to responding to dietary changes and exercise, especially if you’ve had children. Fortunately, at Dominion, Dr. Mehan or Dr. Johnson can perform a tummy tuck to tighten up your stomach area. Dominion Plastic Surgery is proud to be one of the premier practices to offer abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) to patients in Fairfax, Falls Church, Washington DC and the surrounding areas.
What is a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck, clinically known as abdominoplasty, removes excess skin and pockets of fat and repositions stretched or separated muscles in the abdomen area, from above the navel all the way down to the top of the pubic area. The end result is a slimmer contour and a flatter abdominal area.
Would I be a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
When considering this procedure with the team at Dominion, it’s important to make a distinction between loose, inelastic skin and pockets of fat. If you have a pooch because your skin is loose — whether due to the simple slackening that comes with age or because of pregnancy or weight gain and loss — and nothing you seem to do impacts the sagging, then a tummy tuck is the perfect remedy. However, if localized pockets of fat around your abdomen are your main problem, then liposuction could be a better procedure.
People who have gained and lost a good deal of weight and women who have had children are good candidates for a tummy tuck because the skin that has been stretched for a period of time usually cannot return to its former degree of tautness. Also, the way that pregnancy focuses the weight gain can stretch and separate the abdominal muscles, weakening their ability to keep the area tight.
But if you’re considering having additional children a tummy tuck will have to wait. The effects of pregnancy will negate the results of your tummy tuck. Also, people who plan to lose more weight should delay their tummy tuck, as the additional weight loss will create more loose skin. It’s important to remember that abdominoplasty is a body-contouring procedure, not a weight loss procedure.
Should I wait until I am finished having children to have a tummy tuck?
This is important — you must be sure you don’t want to have any additional children before you have this surgery. Why? The localized weight gain of pregnancy will create all the stretching and muscle separation it did previously. So, you’ll basically wipe out the results you achieved.
How is a tummy tuck performed?
When you come in for your consultation with Dr. Mehan or Dr. Johnson, we’ll discuss whether you need a full tummy tuck or what is known as a “mini” tummy tuck. This will depend on the degree and areas where you have sagging, inelastic skin.
In a fully tummy tuck, there are two incisions. The main incision is made at the bikini line, running from hipbone to hipbone. We generally have the incision descend just a bit so it is covered by underwear or a bikini bottom. Full tummy tucks also have a second incision around the navel. This allows us to tighten the skin above the navel. After the incision(s) are made the upper abdominal skin is pulled away from the muscle beneath. The underlying muscles are pulled together and stitched into place for a firmer abdomen and narrower waist. Fat pockets may be removed with minor liposuction at this point. The skin is then stretched downward and over the newly tightened muscles, excess skin is trimmed, and the navel is moved to a new, natural position. The incisions are then closed.
A mini tummy tuck only has a single lower incision. The length of the incision usually isn’t as long as with a full tuck. This depends on your individual situation. In a mini tummy tuck, the skin is only lifted to the navel area and the navel remains in place. A mini tuck is ideal for patients who don’t have large amounts of loose skin, and whose muscle strength is still relatively strong.
Is abdominoplasty painful?
With anesthesia, you won’t feel anything during your surgery. Afterwards, the pain can be categorized as more long-term aching than acute pain. This procedure is very satisfying, but it demands a serious recovery.
Before and After
What is recovery like after a tummy tuck?
Because this surgery involves cutting the skin and muscles of the abdomen, the recovery is more involved than many procedures. The main concern during your recovery is not stressing the muscles that have been repositioned or your incisions. This means that basically any lifting over five pounds must wait for at least six weeks. You’ll wear compression garments for a few weeks to help your body adjust to its new slimmer contour and to minimize swelling. Patients can have residual soreness for weeks, even months in some cases. Most patients can return to work in two weeks, unless their job is overly physical.
One important aspect of recovery is preparing your house beforehand. You will be immobilized for several days of basically bed rest. You won’t be able to care for children, do any chores around the house, cook, or anything. You’ll need to have either a spouse or friend take over for probably a full two weeks. Plus, you won’t be able to lift anything for a couple of months.
Will I need to go to an aftercare facility after my surgery?
This is up to you. Most patients opt to go home after their tummy tuck, but they realize they will need someone around the house to take care of basically everything. Some patients may need to spend a couple of nights in an aftercare facility.
What will my scarring be like?
The incision on the bikini line creates a long scar. This is inevitable, but the expertise of Drs. Mehan and Johnson will make it so that you can conceal the scarring with your bikini bottom or underwear. The upper incision, if necessary, can often be made through the navel, so there is little if any scarring.
When can I get back to work, driving, and exercise?
Most patients can return to work in two weeks, but this is only if their job isn’t overly physical. Otherwise, you may need more time. You can begin driving in about two weeks.
Exercise is a great way to speed recovery because it promotes blood flow, which aids the healing process and reduces swelling. Your first return to exercise will be normal walking on a level surface and this usually is possible after two weeks of recovery. Low-impact aerobic exercise can begin around four to six weeks, but if extensive muscle adjustments were made this could be delayed. You need to be patient, and not “test” or push your sutures or your incision; overdoing exercise could loosen your repair. After about two months you can return to most forms of exercise, although specific abdomen-focused exercises such as crunches should be approached carefully.
We’ll discuss all of these details both during your consultation and in follow-up appointments when we can see how your recovery is progressing.
When will I see my full results?
Your results are immediate, but you’ll have swelling that will obscure them. Also, you’ll be hunched over in the beginning, which will also hide your results. But within a week or two you’ll be able to stand tall and you’ll be able to see your results. Of course, your skin will tighten down to your new contours, so your results will continue to get even better. This is a very satisfying procedure for our patients.
Can I combine a tummy tuck with other procedures?
After pregnancy and breastfeeding, many women opt to have a “mommy makeover,” which combines a tummy tuck with a breast lift (with or without augmentation) and liposuction. This creates a single recovery, rather than three separaWashington, but it is relatively intense.
Believe a tummy tuck is the right procedure for you? Contact our office to schedule a consultation in the Washington DC, Bethesda and Potomac, MD, Falls Church, Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria, VA areas.
Call us 703.544.8971 for information on any of our services.