Over time, it may seem like your abdominal area is immune to traditional weight loss and toning methods, like diet and exercise. Many people share this frustration, which is why tummy tucks have remained such popular options for patients who are seeking a more toned body.
Abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck, is a body contouring procedure that corrects protruding or sagging skin in the abdominal area. This highly effective cosmetic operation can be customized to your specific needs, allowing you to choose between a full abdominoplasty or partial abdominoplasty.
Dr. Eric Desman of the Virginia Center for Plastic Surgery has helped many patients feel more comfortable with their midsection. With advanced techniques, he is able to significantly reduce pain during the recovery process. If you’re considering a tummy tuck in Northern Virginia and Alexandria, learn more about how our clinic can restore a refreshed appearance to your figure.*.
What Are the Different Kinds of Tummy Tucks?
There are two general categories of tummy tucks: complete abdominoplasty and partial abdominoplasty. When deciding which type is right for you, it’s important to understand the risks and benefits of each procedure, along with the realistic achievable goals. You may or may not be a candidate for certain procedures based on your anatomy. For example, if you’d like to undergo a partial abdominoplasty to avoid a longer scar, this may not be possible based on your specific anatomy and degree of abdominal sagging. Dr. Desman can meet with you to explain the right tummy tuck for your circumstances.
Complete Tummy Tuck
A complete abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure, which usually takes about two-to-four hours.
During this operation, Dr. Desman will make an incision that spans the lower abdomen, from one pubic bone to the other, and then detach the belly button to allow for full access to the abdominal area. Your skin is lifted to expose the covering over the abdominal muscles. Our surgeon then pulls these muscles closer together and stitches them in place to create a tighter abdomen and a narrower waistline.
Your skin is then pulled back over the area and stitched into place. This removes excess skin and allows Dr. Desman to create a new opening to replace the displaced belly button. Sometimes liposuction of the flanks or hips may also be recommended, which creates a more contoured figure.
Partial Tummy Tuck
A mini-tummy tuck is a less invasive version of the complete tummy tuck, and it is suitable for those who require less extreme changes. In a partial abdominoplasty, the initial incision is smaller, and the belly button is not detached. The only tightening occurs below the belly button.
Once the incision is made, Dr. Desman will lift the skin up to the point where it is attached at the belly button, and then he will tighten the abdominal muscles below the belly button. Your skin will then be pulled back over the area, any excess skin will be removed, and the incision will be stitched back into place. Because the belly button is not detached in a partial tummy tuck, our surgeon does not need to create a new one.
Determining whether a complete or partial tummy tuck is the best option for you can be challenging and our Northern Virginia and Alexandria team can offer personalized guidance during this process.
The Right Candidate for Abdominoplasty
The ideal candidate for a tummy tuck is someone who is in relatively good physical shape, but still suffers from loose, unsightly abdominal muscles as a result of weight loss or pregnancy. Individuals with pockets of fat in the abdominal area that are resistant to diet and exercise are also great candidates for this operation.
Abdominoplasty is not an effective weight loss method overall and they should not be undertaken if you are planning to lose a significant amount of weight. Women who are planning additional pregnancies should also postpone their procedure because childbirth can stretch out the abdominal muscles that are tightened during a tummy tuck.
Finally, a tummy tuck is a very effective body sculpting tool for people who are generally happy with their appearance but have trouble spots in the abdominal area. To see results from previous abdominoplasty patients in Alexandria and Northern Virginia, view our before-and-after photo gallery.
Recovering from a Tummy Tuck with Less Pain
Traditionally, tummy tuck procedures have required a lengthy and uncomfortable recovery period. While recovery ultimately depends on how the patient responds to the operation, Dr. Desman utilizes an advanced numbing agent that significantly cuts down on pain and discomfort during recovery. Additionally, our surgeon can perform tummy tuck surgery using a technique that does not require drains or glue technology.
For optimal comfort, our practice now uses a medication called Exparel, which is a slow-release numbing agent that is injected during the surgical procedure. This makes a significant difference in the amount of pain experienced during the first few days of recovery.
Exparel is injected once during your abdominoplasty surgery directly into the tissues that cause pain. As a result, you will get slow-release pain medication delivered exactly where you need it. Exparel was approved by the FDA in 2011, and it has become increasingly popular ever since. You may notice the effects for about 72 hours, which is usually when pain peaks after abdominoplasty. Dr. Desman routinely uses Exparel in his tummy tucks and mommy makeover procedures.
Post-op instructions will be reviewed with you and given to you at your pre-op appointment. You will also receive another copy of the post-op instructions on the day of surgery.
Contact Dr. Desman about a Tummy Tuck in Northern Virginia
If you are watching what you eat and exercising regularly but are still not seeing the results you desire, a tummy tuck in Northern Virginia could help you tone your abdominal region and feel more comfortable with your body.
Abdominoplasty is not without risk and consideration, so schedule a consultation with Dr. Desman and his team to learn more about whether this procedure is right for you.
The following video highlights some additional questions that patients have about a tummy tuck procedure. Watch to learn more:
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Will the Results of a Tummy Tuck Last?
Unless you gain a significant amount of weight or become pregnant following your procedure, the results of your abdominoplasty should be very long lasting, especially when paired with a sensible diet and exercise.
What Is Recovery Like After a Tummy Tuck?
You will have swelling for the first few days, and due to Dr. Desman’s use of Exparel, you shouldn’t experience significant pain. Your stitches will dissolve on their own, so there is no suture removal after abdominoplasty. A support garment will be worn to facilitate the healing process, which lasts anywhere between two-to-six weeks.
It may take weeks or months before you feel back to normal and are able to resume all of your regular activities. The length of recovery depends on the type of tummy tuck performed and on individual physiological factors. It is recommended that you adopt an exercise program after the procedure when released from our clinic. This will both speed the healing process and help you maintain your newly sculpted figure.
Will Abdominoplasty Give Me Visible Scars?
Fortunately, most tummy tuck scars are usually not visible in clothing, even in swim wear. The abdominoplasty incision is fairly long, and it will run across your lower abdomen, about parallel with your hipbones. The scar from a complete tummy tuck spans from one hipbone to the other, while the scar from a partial tummy tuck will be shorter. Some procedures also require a second, vertical incision from the pubic area upward.
Your scar will probably be visible for the first couple of months after your abdominoplasty, often appearing red and raised. However, as the healing process continues, it will blend in with the surrounding area and become less apparent. It may take up to a year before your scar takes on its permanent appearance.
Can a Tummy Tuck Help Me Lose Weight?
No. A tummy tuck simply tightens loosened muscles and removes loose skin in the abdominal area. Even when combined with a liposuction procedure, abdominoplasty is not an effective overall weight loss technique, but it is an excellent method for correcting problem areas that have become resistant to diet and exercise. A tummy tuck is a body-sculpting technique, not a quick solution for weight loss.
When Can I Resume Normal Activities After My Abdominoplasty Procedure?
Your initial recovery process will usually take anywhere from one week to one month, after which most patients are comfortable returning to work and other non-strenuous activities. While you should start a gentle walking regimen as soon as possible following the surgery, it is generally recommended that you wait approximately four-to-six weeks before resuming strenuous activities or anything involving heavy lifting.
What are Risks Associated with a Tummy Tuck?
Infection: With any surgical procedure, there is always some risk of infection. In those rare cases when infections occur, they can usually be treated with antibiotics. However, in some very rare types of infection, the condition can be fatal. Most infections can be effectively prevented simply by keeping the wound clean and watching the area carefully during the healing process.
Hematoma – Bruising: A hematoma is a collection of blood forming under the skin. The most common form of hematoma is simply a bruise. However, if the hematoma is unusually large, it may require surgery to repair.
Seroma: Serum is a clear yellow fluid contained in whole blood. Occasionally, abdominoplasty can cause pooling of this serum under the skin, which is a condition known as seroma. If seroma does occur, it can be treated by draining the area.
Loss of Sensitivity: It is common for patients to experience some temporary loss of sensitivity in the abdomen region during the healing process. Although it’s very rare, some tummy tuck patients have experienced a permanent loss of sensation.
Scarring (Internal or External): In rare cases, tummy tuck patients experience extensive scarring following the procedure. In cases of excessive internal scarring, additional treatment might be required.
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