Saggy skin. Stretch marks. Excess fat.
These are cosmetic issues that many people face. Women, in particular, have problems with their bellies after pregnancy. Not only does it wreak havoc on your skin, but it can also affect how well your abdominal muscles work too.
Confidence in your body is important for your self-esteem. And if you're dealing with any of these issues, it can cause real harm to your body image.
Fortunately, you can do something about a saggy belly. An extended abdominoplasty might be what you're looking for.
In this article, we'll discuss what you can expect from this procedure.
What is an Extended Abdominoplasty?
An abdominoplasty is most commonly referred to as a tummy tuck. A tuck is when a doctor removes excess skin from the belly. It's usually done along with liposuction or contouring.
There are three different types of tummy tucks.
Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tuck removes skin and fat from the lower belly. It's done through a smaller incision than a more invasive tuck.
The incision is just above the pubic area and runs horizontally along the lower abdomen. Your doctor makes the incision to ensure that you can't see it in a swimsuit.
Full Tummy Tuck
A full tuck improves the look of the top and bottom of your belly. It removes more skin and uses more liposuction around the abdomen.
This type of tummy tuck usually has a similar and larger scar than a mini tuck. The incision length depends on how much tissue needs to be removed.
Extended Tummy Tuck
The extended version is similar to the full tuck but also includes the flanks or the sides of your belly. There are additional liposuction and contouring procedures. And more skin is removed so the incision is often bigger.
Who Should Have One
Tummy tucks are helpful when there's a large amount of excess skin. This happens because of pregnancy or extreme weight loss.
You must be in good health and be a non-smoker to have a tummy tuck.
If you have a small amount of excess fat on your belly, you might do well with liposuction only. But a mini tuck is an option for those with a small pocket of skin and fat around their lower belly.
Also, a tummy tuck is not a means of losing weight. You should be close to or at your ideal weight when you have this procedure done. It's meant to refine and sculpt, not remove large amounts of fat.
Your skin must be in good shape. If the skin in your upper abdomen is too saggy or thin, you might not be a good candidate.
If you have weakened and separated abdominal muscles due to pregnancy, your doctor can repair those as well. This makes it a great option for moms.
It's always best to contact your doctor if you think you might be a good candidate. He can give you all the facts and recommend a course of action.
Your surgeon develops a plan tailored to your needs. He'll go over this plan with you before the surgery and make marks where he plans to cut.
The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure done under general anesthesia. Your doctor makes the incision along your pubic area and between your hip bones. Incision length depends on how much skin he plans to remove.
He'll lift up the abdominal skin and repair any damaged muscles. The surgeon cuts the belly button away and does liposuction where needed.
He stretches the skin back down over the belly and cuts off the excess at the bottom.
This gives the tummy a tight, firm new look. Then he pulls the belly button through and reattaches it.
How fast you recover depends on your personal health and the extent of the surgery.
But for most surgeries, you'll go home the same day. In some rare cases, your doctor recommends an overnight hospital stay.
Your doctor gives you an abdominal compression garment to help with healing. You may also have drains placed to allow fluid to escape, which are taken out a few days after surgery.
You'll be weak and sore for a few days while your abdominal muscles heal. This surgery is common for moms. So be sure you've got full-time childcare for your kids through the first few weeks.
After two weeks of rest, you can get back to light activities. But it will be 6-8 weeks before you'll be fully recovered. Before that time, you shouldn't do any heavy lifting or straining.
If you work at a desk, you'll be able to resume work in about 2-4 weeks. But if your job involves straining in any way, you'll need to wait longer.
Also, you might have some numbness around your belly that may persist for a few months.
The Results Are In
At first, your body will be bruised and swollen. You won't be able to tell how your procedure looks right away.
It also may take several more months for your scarring to calm down. But you can see how much flatter your tummy is by the eighth post-op week.
Your doctor has faith that your surgery will last. But that also depends on you.
If you're planning to have another child, you should wait until after you do before having this surgery. Another pregnancy can erase the results.
Also, you need to maintain your weight to keep your belly looking great. Any type of weight fluctuation can stretch the skin and lead to future sags and stretch marks.
Keep your abdominal muscles strong by working out your core. Sit-ups, push-ups, and planks are all good exercises to keep your muscles tight.
And be sure you keep up with your cardio. This is important to control weight gain, but also to keep those belly muscles firm.
Also, try twisting exercises to workout your flanks. You opted for the extended version of the tummy tuck, so keep your flanks in shape.
There are many products on the market to help fade scars. Try some of these to make your scar less noticeable.
Are You a Good Candidate?
People who opt for an extended abdominoplasty are almost always happy with the results. There is a large scar, but it's a tradeoff most patients are ready to make.
If you have stretch marks and saggy skin from losing weight or having babies, consider a tummy tuck to get your body back to where it once was.
Cosmetic surgery procedures are often done together, so be sure to check out the other procedures we offer.