Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that consists in removing excess skin and abdominal fat and in correcting the muscular flaccidity. This excess of skin and laxity of the abdominal wall usually appear in patients who have had weight gain and subsequent loss or women who have had multiple pregnancies. The abdominoplasty gets a firmer and flatter abdomen and a narrower waist.
Abdominoplasty is performed through an incision from one hip to the other, just above the pubis. A second incision is made around the navel, to separate it from the surrounding tissues. The type of anaesthesia used to perform an abdominoplasty is general anaesthesia, during which the patient will be asleep until the end of the surgery.
In mini-abdominoplasty, a much smaller incision is made, also above the pubis without being necessary the incision around the navel. (In mini-abdominoplasty, local anesthesia and sedation can be used).
In the procedure, the skin of the abdominal wall is separated up to the ribs. The muscles in this area are tightened and attached in the midline in order to get a firmer abdominal wall and a narrower waist. The separated skin is stretched towards the pubis and the excess skin is removed; the navel is placed in its new position. Finally, the sutures are made and a bandage is place, as well as a temporary drainage tube in order to remove excess fluid that might be accumulated in the affected area. In mini-abdominoplasty, the skin is separated only between the incision and the navel, the excess skin is removed and the sutures are made.
During the first days, the abdomen is usually a bit swollen and some discomfort or pain can be felt, being able to control it with medication. Depending on the extent of the surgery, the patient will be able to go home in a few hours or he/she will need to stay 2 or 3 days in the clinic. It is recommended not to stretch but to start walking as soon as possible. The external stitches of the skin will be removed within 5 and 7 days. The internal stitches, whose ends are visible at the ends of the incision will be removed within 2 or 3 weeks. The bandage is replaced by an abdominal binder.
It may take a few weeks or even a few months for a patient to feel like himself again. If the pre-surgery physical condition is good, including strong abdominal muscles, the recovery after the abdominoplasty will be faster. Some people return to work in about 2 weeks, while others need 3 or 4 weeks of rest and recovery. Exercise helps the patient to recover earlier. However, heavy exercise should be avoided until the patient feels comfortable. The scars may give the impression of getting worst during the first 3-6 months while they are in the healing period; this is normal. We have to wait 9 months or 1 year for the scar to flatten and lighten. Although scars will never disappear, these ones will not be visible, even when bikini or bathing costume is worn.
In most cases, the results are final, provided they are accompanied by a balanced diet and regular exercise.