Considering a Tummy Tuck in San Diego?

Here is what to expect, plus some helpful info about tummy tuck surgery and recovery

If you have loose skin on your tummy or have had multiple pregnancies, you are a prime candidate for a tummy tuck. Post massive weight loss patients often have this procedure, too. The medical term for a tummy tuck is abdominoplasty. This surgical procedure is common among women in San Diego, but men have tummy tucks, too.

If you’re considering abdominoplasty, the following info will help:

What are the different types of tummy tucks?

There are three basic types of tummy tucks that we perform at La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre & Medical Spa—the mini, standard, and extended. Which one is best for you will be determined after your surgeon meets with you. Abdominoplasty has a more extensive recovery time than many other cosmetic procedures, but it provides a long-lasting and very effective result. After the surgery, there is a truly positive change to the body’s shape, and your tummy will be flatter and tighter.

Mini Tummy Tuck

The simplest and easiest tummy tuck to recover from is the “mini” tummy tuck. This procedure is typically suited to women who have never had children or only had one pregnancy. This procedure is appropriate if there is only a small amount of loose skin in the central lower abdomen. In this procedure, the surgeon tightens the skin only and doesn’t “plicate” (repair) the underlying abdominal muscle. The scar on the “mini” tummy tuck is normally shorter, horizontal, and usually placed just above the pubic area within the upper pubic hairline.

Standard Tummy Tuck

The next step up from the “mini” tummy tuck is the “standard” tummy tuck. If you have had several pregnancies, you usually need this procedure. Normally with this surgery, the excess skin is excised and underlying abdominal muscles are repaired. The scar is usually horizontal and above the pubic area, but it is longer, extending from approximately one hip bone out to the other hip bone.

before and after tummy tuck photoTummy Tuck Before & After Pictures

Extended Tummy Tuck

The most extensive tummy tuck is the “extended” tummy tuck. This procedure is often indicated for women who have had multiple pregnancies or for those who are post-massive weight loss. Excess skin is excised from the abdomen and flanks, and the underlying abdominal muscle is tightened, as well. The scar runs across the upper pubic hair area and extends upwards toward the back on both sides. It is a long scar, but the benefit is that it tightens your entire lower torso.

Once in a while, the surgeon needs to place a vertical scar in a tummy tuck procedure. This could be necessary if you have so much loose skin that a horizontal tightening only will not eliminate all the laxity. The price you pay for a better-looking abdomen is visible scars. There really isn’t a way to conceal the scar (without clothes) as in many other cosmetic procedures. The scars are placed, however, so that they are well hidden in normal panties. Most patients happily accept the scar for the result. They consider it a very good “trade-off” for their improved appearance in clothing and their enhanced body image.

Do I need to lose weight before getting a tummy tuck?

As with other body procedures, you’re going to be happiest with tummy tuck results if you are not considering the procedure to solve weight issues. Although you don’t have to be your “ideal” weight, it’s best to be near your target weight for maximum results. If you are a post massive weight loss patient, it is recommended that you hold your reduced weight goal for at least a year before considering cosmetic procedures.

What is involved in tummy tuck surgery?

All tummy tucks are done under general anesthesia. Before surgery, our board certified plastic surgeons and our board certified anesthesiologists review your chart. If there is something of concern, they want to address it before your surgery. The more detailed information you give your surgeon, the better he or she is able to care for you. Patient safety is our greatest concern, and your active and candid participation in that objective is of paramount importance.

The length of the surgery will depend on the extent of your tummy tuck and whether or not you need liposuction as well. You’ll know approximately how many hours it will take before surgery. With the two more extensive tummy tucks—the standard and extended—your surgeon will probably recommend that you spend your first post-surgical night in the outpatient unit at the hospital. This ensures that you can get intravenous pain medication and fluids and that you will have all the help you need during the first 24 hours after surgery.

Adding liposuction for a refined result

Sometimes with an abdominoplasty, the surgeon will also suggest liposuction. This gives the surgeon the ability to sculpt surrounding areas on your body so that your result will be even better. Liposuction is a very nice complementary procedure to a tummy tuck. So don’t be surprised if a surgeon recommends liposuction for you. They aren’t just trying to run up your surgical costs—they know it will enhance your surgical outcome.

What is involved in tummy tuck recovery?

After a tummy tuck, you will experience some discomfort, which is managed with medication. After standard and extended tummy tucks, the surgeon usually attaches a device called a “pain pump,” which will help with post-surgical discomfort. The pain pump is usually left in for about four days, and then the doctor or nurse will remove it at a post-surgical visit.

Once home, you’ll continue with bed rest, but it is also important that you get up and move around several times a day. Plan your initial recovery so that there is a friend or family member who’s with you at home for at least the first three to five days. You will need help with the basics. You’ll be given very specific instructions about not lifting kids or weighty items and other guidelines to help you have a better result. (You don’t want to strain your incision sites and potentially increase the width of your scars.)

If you prefer, there are after surgery assistants and after surgery facilities that provide professional help during recovery. We can suggest reputable providers if you desire this level of private care.

It is very important that you plan on two to three weeks of recuperation time before you get back to your normal daily activities. This will vary with the level of tummy tuck you have, but it’s a good basic estimate. It’s important that you plan well so that you give your body time to heal in the best manner possible. Aerobic activities can usually be resumed about 6 weeks after surgery.

What do tummy tuck scars look like?

Any tummy tuck procedure involves an incision that will leave a scar on your abdomen. The size and extent of the scar depend on the extent of your tummy tuck. In most cases, your surgeon will be able to make incisions so the resulting scar is well-hidden by even minimal clothing (such as a bikini bottom).

While these scars will fade over time, we highly recommend that our patients adopt a pro-active approach to scar care. Most important is to keep the scars protected from the sun through clothing with an SPF factor and through consistent use of sunscreen. You also have the option of using a scar minimizing gel or cream to help your scars heal more smoothly and lighter in shade. We suggest SkinMedica’s Scar Recovery Gel with Centelline™.

What are the risks of tummy tuck surgery?

As in any surgical procedure, there are risks to having a tummy tuck. Some of the risks that are specific to tummy tucks are hematomas, seromas, infection, and scarring issues. Be sure your plastic surgeon goes over risks with you, and that you are provided with written information on risks as well.

What to expect at your tummy tuck consultation at LJC

At La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre & Medical Spa, you will meet with a nurse before your surgery who will go through all of the specific and general risks and possible complications carefully with you. We want our patients to be fully informed, so we give you a booklet to keep that contains the surgical information. You can take all the time you need at this visit and ask any questions you have.

Also at this pre-operative visit, we will take before surgery pictures, draw blood to do a CBC, and get an in-depth health history from you. If you are a smoker, surgeons like you to stop smoking entirely or for at least two weeks before the procedure.

It is always important that you reveal your entire health history. Never feel shy or embarrassed. Our surgeons want to know all they can about your medical background. All your personal health and lifestyle factors are part of your surgical plan.

Ready to talk to a plastic surgeon? Here’s how to get started:

Once you decide you want a tummy tuck, start by making appointments with one or more surgeons. While at your consultation with one of our experienced plastic surgeons at La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre & Medical Spa, talk to him or her about your specific goals and expectations. By discussing your specific expectations, a surgeon will be able to examine you and tell you what can be achieved with your body. The more you share in consultation with the surgeon, the more likely you are to be happy with your result.

At the time of the consultation, you should be able to view lots of before and after pictures of real patient’s results. This will help assess the experience and skills of the surgeon. In summary, here’s what to look for and what you’ll find at LJC:

  • Meet personally in consultation with an experienced board certified plastic surgeon
  • At the consultation have an examination and discuss your desires and expectations and the specifics of the recommended procedure
  • Receive information and materials that help you in the decision-making process
  • See before and after pictures of real patients of the surgeon
  • Get a specific written quote detailing all the costs
  • After scheduling surgery, attend an individual “pre-op” appointment to discuss the surgical aspects and risks

Besides these points, please refer to our article, Ten Points To Ponder. When you shop for a tummy tuck or any other procedure, you’ll want to know these ten important factors to consider. At La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre & Medical Spa, we are committed to educating patients, so we hope this information is helpful to you.