Are there specific complications associated with the hourglass tummy tuck?
Are there specific complications associated with the hourglass tummy tuck?
The tummy tuck is a complex plastic surgery procedure commonly performed on patients of both sexes and different ages. The procedure eliminates the surplus of skin and associated fat tissue on the inferior part of the tummy. Saggy skin on the tummy can occur as a result of weight fluctuations, but also multiple pregnancies or the natural aging process. It is important to mention that abdominoplasty exclusively targets the structures of the abdominal wall, but not the abdominal cavity. This means that it can’t be used on patients who want to lose weight, just for patients who want to get a firmer and flatter abdomen.
The hourglass tummy tuck is a variation of the classic abdominoplasty that entails the combination of liposuction and fat transfer to the hips to achieve superior aesthetic results and an hourglass body shape. This procedure is recommended for women with narrow hips and a square shape of the body due to unwanted fat deposits on the flanks and small dimensions of the hips.
When considering the hourglass tummy tuck, many patients want to know if there are specific complications associated with it. Generally speaking, the complications that can occur after an hourglass tummy tuck are the ones associated with the classic tummy tuck, liposuction, and fat transfer.
How is the hourglass tummy tuck performed?
To get a better understanding of what risks and complications are possible to occur after an hourglass tummy tuck, we need to have a clear view of what happens during the procedure.
The surgical plan for the hourglass tummy tuck entails a combination of liposuction, abdominoplasty and fat transfer to the hips. The plastic surgeon will start the procedure with liposuction of the abdominal wall and flanks. The aim of liposuction is to reduce the dimensions of the waist as much as possible. This means that the plastic surgeon will eliminate as much fat as possible from the midline and contour the waist with liposuction. The results that can be achieved using this procedure are dependent on the anatomy of the patient.
After liposuction is performed, the next stage is abdominoplasty. An incision is performed on the lower part of the tummy, and the surgeon will detach the skin from the abdominal wall muscles and elevate it to get access to the muscles. For patients who have suffered from obesity or had multiple pregnancies, chances are the abdominal muscles need to be strengthened with sutures and brought together on the median line. This will make the abdomen flatter and firmer. If umbilical hernia is present, it will be corrected during this stage of the procedure.
The last stage of the hourglass tummy tuck is the fat transfer to the hips. At this point, the plastic surgeon will use the fat that was collected in the first stage of the procedure and purified later on and injected it into the hips to give them more volume. The surgeon will inject more fat than necessary into the hips as over the first two months post-op as a certain amount of the fat injected will be reabsorbed by the body.
Complications associated with abdominoplasty
As is the case with other surgical procedures, there are risks and complications associated with abdominoplasty as well. Generally speaking, abdominoplasty presents the potential risks of any other major surgical procedure. If the patient is in good health and emotional condition, the risks are much reduced and the postoperative complications that can occur are rare. Also, an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon will prescribe medication to prevent some of the complications that could otherwise occur. Antibiotics will be prescribed for five days post-op to reduce the risk of developing an infection, and hipocoagulants might be prescribed to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
General complications can occur in the case of any other procedure, such as:
– Allergic reactions to the general anesthesia
– Excessive bleeding during and after the procedure
– Fat tissue necrosis
The risks are increased for a smoker as is the case with all surgical procedures, as smoking doesn’t allow for a proper oxygenation of the blood. The recommendation is to stop smoking at least a few weeks before the procedure and remain a non-smoker for the same amount of time after the procedure. Smoking can cause the death of the fat cells grafted to the hips and also delayed wound healing and wound dehiscence.
Among the complications that are specific to the tummy tuck are:
– Partial or complete belly button necrosis: Caused by blood circulation issues on the navel. This is a rare complication; however, in some cases, the reconstruction of a new belly button might be mandatory.
– Tummy asymmetries: This could be a result of the cicatrization process on the incision for the tummy tuck, but can also occur after liposuction is performed on the abdominal wall.
– Loss of sensitivity on the abdominoplasty incision: This is a common side effect that can occur after any type of procedure due to the trauma caused to the sensitive nerves in the area. Most women are confronted with this after having a C-section as well, so there is nothing to be worried about. Generally speaking, this complication is only temporary as the nerves will be regenerated and the sensitivity will get back to normal in a matter of months.
Complications associated with liposuction
Liposuction is one of the least invasive plastic surgery procedures, so it has a low risk of developing complications. Among the complications that can occur after liposuction that we haven’t already discussed for the tummy tuck is the shock that can occur due to the drop in blood pressure caused by extracting too much fat. When too much liquid is removed from the body in one liposuction sitting, this complication can occur. This is the reason why the recommendation is not to eliminate more than six to seven liters of fat in one sitting. If the plastic surgeon tries to compensate this by giving too many fluids through the IV, kidney issues can occur post-op. To reduce this risk, it is important to understand that there is a limited amount of fat that can be extracted during a session of liposuction and also that liposuction is not the procedure to use if you have weight issues. Asymmetries can also occur after liposuction, both on the abdominal wall but also the flanks.
Liposuction is probably the most frequently performed plastic surgery procedure worldwide now; however, it is not a simple procedure, and it still requires a keen eye for detail and the talent and experience of a board-certified plastic surgeon if you want to avoid most complications and achieve the best possible results.
Complications associated with fat transfer to the hips
The plastic surgeon will inject more fat than needed into the hips as about 30 to 40% of it will be reabsorbed by the body during the first months post-op. This is a normal phenomenon. However, in some cases, more than this percentage of fat can be reabsorbed by the body due to the lack of proper post-operative care or because the fat was not extracted and processed correctly. Granulomas can occur as a result of too much fat being injected in one area of the hips.
Asymmetries are also possible if the patient doesn’t follow the plastic surgeon’s instruction to avoid any type of pressure on the sides of the body during the first two to three months post-op.
The hourglass tummy tuck aims to recontour the body by creating a firm and flat tummy and improving the profile and the silhouette of the patient with the help of liposuction and fat transfer to the hips. The main advantage of this procedure compared to a traditional tummy tuck is the overall improvement of the body and not just an improvement of the tummy. Many patients undergoing the classic tummy tuck are disappointed to notice that they end up with a rather square shape of the body. The traditional tummy tuck only deals with the imperfections of the abdominal wall, compared to the hourglass tummy tuck which aims to improve the silhouette of the patient aside from the tummy.
The complications associated with the hourglass tummy tuck are the same as that of the classic tummy tuck, liposuction, and fat transfer.