Asymmetrical abdomen after a tummy tuck
The tummy tuck is a plastic surgery procedure that is used to treat saggy and loose abdomen. A saggy abdomen looks aesthetically inferior, which is why many patients experience emotional pain and lower self-esteem. If your belly has become saggy as a result of factors like weight changes, pregnancies, or aging, you may consider the tummy tuck surgery.
The procedure enhances your abdomen by removing the excess skin and tightening the abdominal muscles. Like all plastic surgery procedures, there are complications linked with the tummy tuck. One of the complications that may happen after the surgery is asymmetrical or irregular abdomen. While this complication is rare, the possibility of its occurrence cannot be ruled out.
The tummy tuck surgery
To understand what causes the abdomen to become asymmetrical, you must first know what the procedure involves. The tummy tuck procedure is performed by placing incisions on the abdomen. The type and length of the incision depend on the severity of sagginess in the stomach and the patient‚Äôs aesthetic goals.
After making the incision, the doctor will tighten the abdominal wall muscles and lift the belly button to a raised and youthful position. In the next step, the surgeon will remove the excess skin from the abdomen. Also, the excess fat will be removed. In the last step, the surgeon will suture and close the incisions.
The results of the tummy tuck will gradually evolve with the passage of time. After the procedure, the patient must go through a complete recovery process. The recovery period can extend up to several weeks. Typically, it takes six weeks of recovery after the procedure. The outcomes will emerge after the post-operative swelling has entirely disappeared and the surgical wounds have completely healed.
Asymmetrical abdomen after the tummy tuck
After the tummy tuck surgery, you may notice that your abdomen looks asymmetrical or irregular. It is essential to keep in mind that after the surgery, your belly will be swollen. The swelling may take many weeks or even months to disappear. It is essential for the patient to undertake a full abdominal evaluation after the surgery to find the reasons responsible for an irregular abdomen.
Many patients panic when they notice their abdomen is irregular after the procedure. As stated above, it takes many weeks or months for the body to heal and normalize. Being concerned about the irregularity right after the surgery can be too early. You must wait with patience to see the improvements evolve. The aesthetic features of your abdomen will change over time.
In most cases, an asymmetrical abdomen is temporary and happens due to the post-operative swelling, fluid accumulation, and scar development.
After the tummy tuck, your abdomen will be swollen. The post-operative swelling is entirely reasonable. Since your body received incisions and has endured surgical trauma, your body reacts in the form of swelling. The post-operative swelling is merely an indication that your body‚Äôs natural healing process is working to overcome the surgical trauma and heal the incisions.
However, no one can tell when exactly the post-operative swelling will completely disappear. It can take many weeks and even months. Also, the swelling after the surgery on both sides of the abdomen does not disappear at the same rate or speed. The swelling on one side of the abdomen may go quickly, whereas the swelling on the other side may subside gradually.
As a result you may panic, thinking your abdomen has become asymmetrical. For the first 6-10 weeks, do not be concerned if your belly looks asymmetrical. If it does, chances are it is happening because the post-operative swelling has not entirely subsided.
The second factor that may cause the abdomen to look irregular is fluid accumulation. After surgery, there is a likelihood that seroma may happen. Seroma is a condition whereby the fluids discharged by your body at the site of operation gets trapped under the skin and collects there.
In case fluid has accumulated in one or both sides of your abdomen, your abdomen may appear asymmetrical. It is not a serious issue. If the fluid collection is mild or moderate, it will resolve on its own. No outside procedure is required. Abdominal irregularity resulting from fluid accumulation can be prevented by using drain cannulas after the tummy tuck surgery.
Another factor that can cause temporary asymmetry in the abdomen after the surgery is the development of scar tissue. Since the procedure involves incisions and skin excision, the incisions will develop into scars after the procedure. This is normal. Scar development is a normal phenomenon after the surgery. In other words, the surgery is no possible without incisions and scars.
As the scar develops in the next few weeks, the patient may feel like her abdomen is irregular. It happens because the scar has not fully normalized and reached maturity. As the scar becomes mature, your tummy will look more symmetrical. In rare cases, abnormal scarring may happen, which can cause your abdomen to become permanently asymmetrical. This can be corrected via an additional surgery.
Inadequate or irregular fat removal
If your abdominal asymmetry does not disappear even after the disappearance of the swelling and complete healing of your abdomen, it may be a result of inadequate or irregular fat removal from the abdomen. This is because the tummy tuck involves removal of the excess fat from the stomach as well.
If the surgeon fails to remove the fat adequately or properly, your abdomen may become asymmetrical after the procedure. In this case, liposuction should be performed on the abdomen to make it contoured and symmetrical. This type of abdominal asymmetry happens mostly as a result of an aesthetic error on the part of the surgeon. This can be avoided by choosing an experienced and board-certified plastic surgeon to undertake the procedure.
Insufficient or irregular skin excision
Again, this is an aesthetic error. If the surgeon fails to remove sufficient skin from the abdomen, or if the surgeon removes the skin from the abdomen in an irregular fashion, the abdomen will become asymmetrical. To fix the condition, the patient will have to undergo a corrective surgery that would involve opening the old incisions and removing the skin causing the problem.
Many patients suffer from severe abdominal sagginess. In this case, the abdominal wall muscles become separated and weak. There is a likelihood that the plastic surgeon may fail to tighten the abdominal wall muscles properly during the operation. As a result, the muscles may become separated again after the surgery. It can cause the abdomen to look asymmetrical. If you want to have the condition treated, you will be required to undergo a corrective procedure. During the surgery, the old incisions would be opened up and the abdominal wall muscles would be adequately tightened.
As explained above, the treatment option for abdominal asymmetry after the tummy tuck depends on the cause of the condition. If the problem has occurred due to post-operative swelling, scarring, or scar development, it will normalize on its own. In these cases, the abdomen will become symmetrical over time. It will take a few weeks or months for this to happen.
On the other hand, if the cause of the problem is inadequate or improper fat or skin removal or abdominal muscle weakness, the patient will be required to undergo corrective surgery to fix the condition. In this case, the surgeon will open up the incision placed during the tummy tuck and correct the underlying cause of the abdominal asymmetry.
How to prevent asymmetrical abdomen after a tummy tuck
Most cases of abdominal asymmetry after the tummy tuck happen due to surgical or aesthetic errors committed by the plastic surgeon. You can prevent the condition from occurring by choosing your plastic surgeon carefully. When selecting a plastic surgeon, make sure to choose only a board-certified plastic surgeon to undertake the procedure.
Also, make sure the surgeon is highly experienced in abdominoplasty. During the pre-operative consultation, ask the surgeon to show you before and after pictures of patients he has treated in the past. Also, abdominal asymmetry induced by seroma or hematoma can be averted if drain cannulas are used after the procedure.
The tummy tuck is an effective plastic surgery procedure to treat saggy abdomen. It can restore your firmer, youthful, and smoother abdomen. However, the surgery is not free from risks and complications. One of the problems that may happen after the procedure is an asymmetrical abdomen. Many reasons can cause the abdomen to appear irregular after the tummy tuck. The causes have been explained in this article along with the treatment options. The treatment depends on the cause of the condition.