An abdominoplasty is often confused with a panniculectomy because of the similarities between the two. However, the two procedures are quite different because of their intended outcome. Panniculectomy is to remove the pannus, which is excess skin and fat that hangs below the belt line. A panniculectomy is done to address a functional concern, of persistent rashes or wounds, or impaired mobility. An abdominoplasty also removes the pannus, but includes redraping skin above the beltline, repositioning the belly button, and tightening abdominal muscles. These are not components included in a panniculectomy.
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks and potential complications of surgery.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your surgeon.
An abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthetic. During the procedure, an incision is made along the lower abdomen just above the pubic line from hip to hip. The muscles of the abdomen are then pulled tightly together and repositioned to the midline. Two Jackson-Pratt drains will be placed along the opposing sides of your surgical incision. Dissolvable stitches will be used along the surgical incision, with exception to the two black stitches used to tether your drains. Surgical dressings will be applied, and an abdominal binder will be used on top.
Following general anesthesia or intravenous sedation, it will take 24 to 36 hours for the full effects of the drugs to wear off. You must be accompanied by a responsible adult, who may either drive you home or take a taxi with you. You may feel a little sleepy or nauseous when you get home, you should quietly rest at home for the remainder of the day.
Remove all surgical dressings 48 hours after surgery and leave only the pink paper tape over the surgical incision and belly button. At this time, you can shower, but do not directly apply water pressure over any of the pink tape, only let the water run over it and pat gently to dry. The pink tape is waterproof and will start to peel off over the next 4 weeks. Please cut off the portions of tape that are no longer adhering. It is essential to continue wearing the provided compression garment for 3 months (even at night if comfortable), to prevent any fluid buildup Additional garments are available for purchase through the clinic.
You can expect to have two drainage tubes in place (one to each hip) after surgery to help reduce the amount of fluid buildup around the wound. You will be given instructions on how to care for the drains and when to arrange an appointment to have them removed. To make showering more comfortable, you can attach your drains to a lanyard around your neck. Please do not bathe with drains in place or until all incisions have completely healed.
Most patients are able to get up and walk around briefly right after surgery, however, it is recommended that you do not stand perfectly straight for the first week to avoid any unnecessary tension on the tummy area. Most patients are able to walk on a treadmill in about a month and play tennis in about three months. Most patients who have sedentary jobs take about two weeks off work. If your job involves a lot of physical activity be sure to speak with your surgeon during your consultation with regards to how much time off you will need for your specific daily tasks. There should be no heavy lifting for 6 weeks following surgery. Most patients are comfortable driving in about a week's time. It is important to remember that post-operative recovery is variable for all patients.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to give us a call at (403) 800-9157. If you are unable to reach us, and need medical advice please call 811 to speak to a nurse. The line is free of charge and available 24 hours a day. If it is a medical emergency please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital or call the Peter Lougheed Centre Switchboard at (403) 943-4555 and ask to speak to the plastic surgeon on-call.
It is important to know that while technically the result of a ‘tummy tuck’ is permanent, any significant fluctuations in weight can greatly affect the results. It is recommended that individuals who are planning to lose weight or women considering pregnancy postpone the procedure.
A ‘tummy tuck’ procedure will also not be able to correct stretch marks. Some stretch marks may be excised if they are along the surgical scar, but not all. It is possible that tattoos may have to be removed during excision of abdominal skin as well. A good candidate for abdominoplasty surgery is a patient who is relatively healthy, has reached their weight loss goals and has realistic expectations for post-operative outcomes. This procedure is not a replacement for a weight loss or exercise regime.
Liposuction may be a surgical alternative to abdominoplasty if there is good skin tone and localized abdominal fat deposits in an individual of normal weight. Diet and exercise programs may also be beneficial for reducing excess body fat and improving body contour.
It is also strongly advised that you are a non-smoker at the time of surgery. If you are a smoker we recommend you quit smoking at least 3 months prior to surgery as nicotine can interfere with blood supply and potentially cause complications with healing after surgery.