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An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, procedure tightens and improves the shape of the abdomen. When loose skin and laxity of the tissue connecting the abdominal muscles occur after pregnancy or significant weight loss, correction may only be possible with surgery. A person seeking a tummy tuck can be at their target weight and, despite diet and exercise, are not seeing further improvement of the appearance of the abdomen. The loose skin will not improve with exercise and may only get worse with weight loss.

An abdominoplasty offers the opportunity to remove the loose skin above and below the belly button, tighten the tissue between the muscles to give a flat abdomen, and redefine the waist area. Barring weight gain or additional pregnancies, the results from an abdominoplasty can last a lifetime. When the looseness and contour of the abdomen bother a person on a daily basis, they are pleased to have improvement in the appearance of the area, and to be able to wear more close fitting clothes.


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Abdominoplasty Goals

The goal of the abdominoplasty procedure is to have a flatter, shapely abdomen. Excess skin is removed to give an even, smooth appearance. The belly button or umbilicus remains in place but has a new opening (like a new button hole) in the newly stretched tummy skin. By tightening the tissue between the rectus muscles, there is new flatness to the appearance of the abdominal wall and the waist is more defined. Improvement of the waist comes from how the tissue between the muscles is tightened.

An abdominoplasty is most successful when you are at a stable and target weight. While a woman can have more pregnancies after a tummy tuck, she loses some of the improvement from the procedure if she has stretching from an additional pregnancy. Likewise, weight gain will stretch out the tight result of a tummy tuck.

Abdominoplasty Incisions

Because typically all of the skin from above the belly button to the pubis is removed, the skin removal is shaped like an ellipse. This shape of skin removal stretches from the front of one hip to the other. While this may seem like a long incision, it is often required to smoothly transition from one hip to the other across your newly flattened tummy. It is aesthetically better to have less extra skin over the hip area than to have a shorter scar. Liposuction is always used by Dr. Baldwin to smooth the hips and make the incision as short as possible. When only the lower abdomen below the belly button needs tightening, called a mini-abdominoplasty, the incision is shorter and stops in the groin area

The tightening between the muscles is done through the incision for the skin removal. The tightening is under the skin from the breast bone to the pubic bone. It also tucks the belly button in for an ‘innie” appearance. By tightening more in the area of the umbilicus, the waist is brought in and looks more defined.

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Abdominoplasty Procedure and Recovery

Abdominoplasty is performed at an accredited outpatient surgical center connected to a hospital or at a full-service hospital. When a patient has muscle tightening, or a full abdomoniplasty, Dr. Baldwin requires the patient stay overnight in the hospital to receive appropriate pain medication and to have assistance by professional health care providers ensuring a comfortable, safe first night. While Dr. Baldwin does place local anesthetic in the area of muscle tightening, she feels the patients recover more quickly when additional medications are available through the nursing staff the first night after surgery . These professionals provide any medications you might need as you recover over the first afternoon and evening, watch you overnight for possible concerns you might have, and give you instruction and support so you can be confident in your recovery when you go home. Dr. Baldwin sees you early the morning after surgery to ensure your first night went well. She will examine and explain your results to guide you in your recovery, answer activity questions, and communicate with your family and/or friend. By the next morning, you feel confident to make the car ride home to complete your recovery.

Drains are placed to ensure there is no fluid buildup that might stretch your new tight tummy skin. The nurses and Dr. Baldwin show you how to care for them at home, and her office calls daily to check on the measurements from the drains. Your first visit back to the office will be in four to seven days when the drains are ready to be removed. Patients are most comfortable when sleeping flexed at the hips in the “lawn chair” position for one to two weeks. We will instruct you on how to achieve this positioning. A soft abdominal binder is used for six weeks to support the tummy and feels secure and comfortable.

Because of the muscle tightening, it is recommended not to drive for 10 days after the surgery. By two weeks you can return to work. Dr. Baldwin believes you will get the most natural result if you minimize swelling by not exercising for six weeks. Your body needs the rest to complete healing, so that you will be strong to return to your exercise routine.

Follow-up After Surgery

Natural, long-lasting results are facilitated by close postoperative follow-up care. Abdominoplasty patients are given clear, written instructions and seen by Dr. Baldwin at the hospital the day following your procedure. Your first visit back to the office will be in four to seven days when the drains are ready to be removed. Thereafter, patients are then seen at our office at week three, week six, three months, six months and annually. It is important to know there are no additional charges for these important follow-up visits. Closely following the instructions given at the early visits help the patient understand how to best heal from surgery. Our office is always available to see prior abdominoplasty patients for concerns that might arise in the future.

At Your Consultation

New information is continually being explored for abodominoplasty options. Dr. Baldwin is interested in discussing all your questions and sharing her opinion and experience on the newest techniques for abdominoplasty during your consultation. Abdominoplasty continues to be one of the most popular elective plastic surgery procedures in the nation.