How likely is infection after a tummy tuck?
This procedure aims to reduce the excess skin and the fat tissue of the damaged abdominal wall and to reshape the tummy. In certain cases, it will be necessary to perform liposuction to reduce the excess layer of subcutaneous fat. Also, for some patients, the plastic surgeon will need to put back tension the distended muscles.
The tummy tuck procedure is a complex and delicate procedure that should be performed only by an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon in an accredited medical facility. Even if it is performed to enhance the appearance of the patient‚Äôs body, the procedure entails risks and potential complications that can occur during or after the procedure.
Infection is one of the complications that can occur after a tummy tuck. In this article, we will discuss the details of the tummy tuck and how likely it is for the patient to develop an infection after the procedure.
Before scheduling the tummy tuck
The pre-operative stage is an important step in getting the tummy tuck. This stage begins with the consultation with the plastic surgeon. When performing the medical examination, the surgeon needs to consider several parameters such as:
– The amount of fat tissue present on the abdominal wall and flanks,
– The condition of the skin on the abdominal wall,
– The condition of the abdominal muscles,
– The overall anatomy of the patient.
Whenever there are significant lesions of the skin with significant distention, a standalone liposuction procedure will be insufficient. It will be necessary to resort to abdominoplasty to correct the appearance of the abdominal wall. Patients who don‚Äôt have a considerable abdominal apron tend to believe that with a simple liposuction can get back a flat and firm abdomen. This is not always possible, and during the pre-operative consultation the patient might find out that the tummy tuck is recommended and not another procedure. It is also important for the patient to discuss all the details of the operative plan before scheduling the procedure, as well as what happens during the recovery period.
A classic general anesthesia is most often performed for a tummy tuck. The patient must see the anesthesiologist at least 48 hours before the procedure for another consultation. The patient will be advised to follow certain strict pre-operative indications to avoid complications after the procedure. For example, smoking should be ceased at least three weeks before the procedure. The patient should also avoid birth control pills, anti-inflammatory medication, and a wide range of natural supplements.
The procedure can last from one to two hours or more, depending on the type of abdominoplasty and whether it is associated with other plastic surgery procedures such as liposuction. The scar is usually located on top of the pubic area and can sometimes (depending on the complexity of the procedure) extend to the flanks. The removal of a portion of the skin positioned between the belly button and the pubic area is necessary to restore the beautiful appearance of the tummy. For patients who had multiple pregnancies in the past, it can also be necessary to provide tension to the distended muscles. When a complete tummy tuck is performed, there will be a second incision positioned around the umbilicus and required for its repositioning. Once the muscles are tightened and the excess skin and fat tissue are removed, the plastic surgeon will suture the incisions and a dressing will be applied to the surgical wounds.
It is also important to mention that most often, blood and other fluids that can accumulate on the surgical wound will be drained with the help of drain tubes inserted close to the surgical incision point. The drains are necessary to be kept on for usually no more than two or three days. The patient might worry that this will be an aspect difficult to manage upon leaving the medical facility. One of the thoughts that often come to mind is whether the drains can trigger infections or other complications.
As a result of any operation, some complications may arise, some inherent in the medical procedure and/or anesthetic, others specific to the abdominoplasty. Good safety practices limit serious risks but do not eliminate them completely. The only way to make sure you reduce the risks as much as possible is to choose a board-certified and experienced plastic surgeon to play out your procedure and follow his recommendations to the letter.
Certain risks, fortunately exceptional, can be unpredictable and put at risk the well-being of the patient (e.g. embolism). Anesthesia has its own complications that will be explained to you during the consultation with the anesthesiologist. Among the risks specific to the tummy tuck procedure are:
Blood clot: Compression garments might be provided. These must be worn during the surgery and after for a few weeks or months.
Unfavorable evolution of the scars: It is normal for the scar to thicken and redden during the first few months post-op. This aspect related to the inflammatory reaction of any healing takes twelve to eighteen months to improve and stabilize. However, some scars have an abnormal evolution, with thickening or blisters persisting beyond one year. These are hypertrophic scars or keloids (more common on black skin). These can occur unpredictably and may require special treatment. It is important to know that scars fade and will be barely visible in time, but they will never disappear completely.
Infection: The bacterial contamination of the surgical wound or drainage hole is usually not serious. It rarely occurs and when it does, antibiotic treatment will be prescribed. The infection that can occur after abdominoplasty is a surface infection, affecting the skin and tissues around the surgical incisions and is not a deep tissue infection. Moreover, to prevent this from happening, an experienced plastic surgeon will perform the procedure with the patient under antibiotics and prescribe antibiotics for five more days post-op.
However, aside from the efforts of the plastic surgeon to reduce the risk of developing an infection, it is also the patient‚Äôs responsibility to keep a proper hygiene at the surgical site, change the dressing as recommended by the surgeon, and always keep the area dry and clean. The patient should also avoid removing the drain tubes at home. This should only be done by a doctor, and the area should be properly disinfected.
The likelihood of developing an infection after the tummy tuck is small, especially if safety protocols are in place and the patient will follow the advice of the plastic surgeon for post-op conduct.
Infection is one of the complications that can occur after any type of surgical procedure. Contamination of the surgical incisions with bacteria can trigger symptoms such as high fever, pus coming from the incision site, and the area being red, swollen, and painful. Infection occurs only in rare cases, and only if the recommendations were not followed.
To prevent infections, the plastic surgeon will prescribe a five-day treatment with antibiotics and also prepare a list of post-op indications for the patient. Maintaining the surgical area clean and dry, changing the dressings as often as recommended, and wearing the compression garments will help the patient avoid unwanted complications such as infections. The patient should contact the plastic surgeon or doctor in case any signs of infection occur as medical treatment might be required as soon as possible.