Abdominoplasty: Need or want?
Abdominoplasty is a plastic surgery procedure more commonly known as the tummy tuck. The procedure has quite a long history now and has helped many patients over the course of several decades to get the desired improvements in the tummy. Abdominoplasty is not a procedure that can be used for weight loss, nor can it help patients get rid of skin conditions such as cellulite of stretch marks. However, it is highly effective in treating certain conditions of the abdominal wall.
The procedure is an invasive and major plastic surgery procedure performed on patients of both sexes and different ages. A general anesthetic is often required when abdominoplasty is performed. In this article, we will discuss whether abdominoplasty is really necessary or if it just something patients undergo on a whim.
Abdominoplasty: The how-to
Many people don’t really know what the procedure entails and how it is performed, so the first thing that we will discuss is how the surgery develops. Before scheduling the procedure, the patient will have a pre-operative consultation with the plastic surgeon during which he will undergo a physical examination and the optimal surgical plan will be designed. The patient will know all the details of the surgery well in advance, including the location of the incisions, each step of the procedure, details about how to prepare, and what needs to be done once the procedure is performed.
Abdominoplasty is performed with the patient under general anesthetic. After the anesthesia takes effect, the plastic surgeon will start by making an incision on the suprapubic area, an incision that can be smaller or bigger, depending on the amount of skin tissue to remove. Generally speaking, the more severe the skin sagginess, the larger will be the incision. After the incision is made, the surgeon will detach the skin tissue from the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Access to the muscles is needed so the plastic surgeon can bring them together and suture them to get a firm and flat tummy. When the muscles of the abdominal wall are weak or distended, it means that the patient is suffering from a condition called diastasis recti. The condition is not painful; however, the gap that develops between the left and right muscles of the abdominal wall make it impossible for the tummy to have a flat and firm appearance, and only by bringing the muscles together on the median line can we achieve a beautiful appearance of the tummy. After the muscles are strengthened with sutures, the plastic surgeon can also correct umbilical hernia, if present. The skin tissue is then re-draped on the tummy with enough tension in it to create a nice effect. The excess skin is removed, and the incision is sutured.
Depending on the amount of skin tissue to be removed, the incision can be smaller or larger. However, it is also this factor (level of skin sagginess) that will determine the need for an additional incision, this time on the belly button. In other words, if the sagginess is extreme and affecting the upper part of the tummy as well, the plastic surgeon might decide to make a second incision around the navel. This incision is required to allow for the repositioning of the navel as the skin is re-draped from the upper part of the tummy.
After the incisions are sutured, compressive bandages are applied on the operated areas, and the patient is moved to the recovery room where he will stay until waking up from the effects of the anesthesia. The patient can go home within hours after the surgery if no complications occur and his health condition is stable. Patients with preexisting health conditions might need to spend more time hospitalized after the tummy tuck.
Why is abdominoplasty a necessity?
Generally speaking, all plastic surgery procedures are elective. This means that not undergoing surgery won’t endanger the patient’s life and it is only his choice whether he wants to get the procedure or not. So, from a certain point of view, undergoing a tummy tuck is not mandatory. However, just imagine a mother of three who has been left with diastasis recti and a considerable amount of skin sagginess on the tummy after her pregnancy. Or imagine a man or woman who has lost a considerable amount of weight after bariatric surgery or other weight loss programs only to find himself now with a significant level of skin sagginess on the tummy that makes finding clothes and even functioning normally difficult. For these patients, getting a tummy tuck is more than caprice and becomes a necessity. Even if their lives don’t depend on it, their self-esteem and general wellbeing do depend on it in a vast majority of cases.
Feeling good in your skin and having an appearance that you can be proud of is very important for all of us, men and women alike. There have been numerous studies showing that self-image has an important effect on how productive and successful we are.
There are people who have low self-esteem because of the appearance of their tummies, either after childbirth or considerable weight fluctuations. There are also patients of a certain age who have had the appearance of the tummy affected by the natural aging process and they want to look younger by eliminating the excess skin. For them, the tummy tuck is also a necessity.
Patients who undergo the tummy tuck should understand that the procedure is associated with risks and complications and should only choose to do it if the benefits outweigh the cons. However, for patients who want to get a beautiful appearance of the tummy in many cases, there is little to be done aside from resorting to plastic surgery. Keep in mind that the procedure is not a substitute for a weight loss program or for having a regular exercise routine. At the same time, what can be achieved with this procedure can’t be achieved in any other way, not even with intense physical exercises. The tummy tuck can correct diastasis recti, and this is a condition that can’t be fixed with physical exercise or diet. Moreover, diastasis recti can even be more accentuated if the patient does the wrong physical exercise. Also, diets can accentuate the skin sagginess and the skin won’t retract on the new contours of the body. Surgical excision is the only effective way to eliminate the excess skin present in different areas of the body, including the tummy.
Hourglass tummy tuck: Correcting the shape of the body
There is one other thing that we can achieve with the help of abdominoplasty that can make it a necessity for the patient, and this is to change the shape of the body. Nowadays it is possible to get an hourglass shape by undergoing a procedure called the hourglass tummy tuck. This procedure entails the use of liposuction, abdominoplasty, and fat transfer to the hips and can take up to four hours or more. It delivers a flat and firm tummy and also an enhanced shape of the body. The results achieved with this procedure are impossible to achieve with anything else. Even if we were able to eliminate the fat deposits from the flanks, it would be impossible to get more volume on the hips, whatever methods we resort to. This is another reason why the hourglass tummy tuck can be more than a caprice. The hourglass body shape is the most desired and sought after feminine silhouette, and less than 8% of the feminine population of the globe are born with it.
There is no doubt about the fact that the tummy tuck can deliver impressive results on patients with weak abdominal muscles and excess skin folds on the lower part of the tummy. Can these results be achieved in any other way? The short answer is no, they can’t. Abdominoplasty is an invasive surgery, and the only method that can be used to correct diastasis recti that can sometimes be to blame for the unpleasant appearance of the tummy. Also, when it comes to skin folds on the tummy, surgical excision is the only viable option that can be used. The results of the tummy tuck can be easily sustained if the patient is committed to following the instructions of the plastic surgeon and keeping a constant weight. Abdominoplasty is usually a necessity for patients as no other method is available nowadays to correct the imperfections that are fixed when the tummy tuck is performed.