One of the most potentially transforming procedures for your body is the Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck). Dr. Lawrence Tong has close to10 years of practice experience providing patients with this procedure. Listed as the 5th most common cosmetic surgery procedure in 2010, according to ASPS statistics, an Abdominoplasty aims to achieve a thinner, flatter, tighter, and stretch mark free abdomen. It does this by addressing the main components that affect the appearance of the abdomen: excess skin, excess fat, and lax abdominal muscles
The Aesthetically Ideal Tummy
The aesthetically ideal abdomen is flat. There are no stretch marks, and there is no hanging skin. The musculature is firm, and there is only a modest fat layer. Pregnancy and/or weight gain/loss are the most common causes of an altered abdominal appearance. These events cause changes that result in stretch marks, lax abdominal musculature, or excess fat. Exercise can improve the thickness of the fat layer, but exercise has no effect on stretch marks, and will not shrink the skin. If there is significant muscle laxity, it cannot be corrected with exercise alone.
Is a Tummy Tuck the right procedure for me?
An Abdominoplasty can achieve impressive rejuvenation of the abdomen because it addresses the three main components that contribute to an undesirable abdominal appearance (skin, fat, and muscle). If you have some or all of the following concerns, a Tummy Tuck could be just the procedure to help you.
A Tummy Tuck can help you:
- Skin and stretch marks: excess skin cannot be ‘exercised away’ because the skin is passive; it does not have a physiologic response to exercise. An Abdominoplasty directly removes abdominal skin and accompanying stretch marks, thus achieving a tighter abdomen with fewer, or even no stretch marks.
- Fat: When the skin is removed, the accompanying fat attached to the skin is also removed. Supplementary Liposuction may also be performed to further thin out any remaining fat on the rest of the abdomen during Tummy Tuck. Fat may or may not be an issue for patients needing Tummy Tuck due to massive weight loss (e.g. bariatric surgery).
- Lax Muscles: Just as skin can be stretched, the abdominal muscles can be stretched, thinned, and weakened with pregnancy and/or weight gain. The medical term for the separation is known as diastasis recti. The central connective tissue is actually stretched out, and while exercise can strengthen the muscles, no amount exercise can return the muscles position back to their original position, if the diastasis is large. During Abdominoplasty, the muscles are brought back to their initial position, and often made even tighter. The effect is to create an internal girdle that leaves you with a flat and possibly concave abdomen, with a slimmer waistline.
Who is a candidate for Abdominoplasty?
Patients with Specific abdominal concerns
If you have some or all of the following problems, you may be a candidate for a Tummy Tuck:
- Excess abdominal skin/loose abdominal skin with or without excess abdominal fat
- Abdominal stretch marks
- Lax abdominal muscles or separation of the abdominal muscles
Weight Loss Patients
Patients who have lost significant weight are also good candidates; this group of patients includes those who have had bariatric weight loss procedures. These patients benefit greatly from the removal of excess skin and muscle tightening.
The Ideal Age for Tummy Tuck
The procedure can be performed in young or older patients alike. The most frequently seen patient is a female who has been pregnant, and wants to restore her abdominal region to her pre-pregnancy appearance.
This procedure should be performed on someone who is healthy and relatively fit. Smokers must quit at least 2 weeks prior to surgery, and not resume after surgery. Dr. Tong assesses every patient to make sure his or her health status is appropriate for undergoing Abdominoplasty.
Important Considerations about Tummy Tuck
Not a Weight Loss Surgery
An Abdominoplasty is not considered a weight loss procedure, and should not be viewed as a substitute for good diet and exercise. The actual weight of the removed tissue is almost always less than 10 pounds.
The Ideal Weight for Tummy Tuck
Patients must have a body mass index (BMI) that is below 35, and ideally less than 30. As BMI increases beyond 35, the final result tends not to be as good, and the risk of a complication tends to increase. If your abdomen has significant visceral adipose (fat beneath the muscle layer), muscle tightening will not be effective in the long-term. It will bulge out again with time. Dr. Tong always assses for visceral adipose during your consultation.
Pregnancy after Tummy Tuck
Tummy Tuck can be performed in patients who plan to have pregnancies in the future. There will be no ill-effects to the pregnancy or the baby’s growth and development, but patients should understand that pregnancy may alter their Tummy Tuck results.
Smoking and Abdominoplasty
Smoking is a significant risk factor for wound healing complications with a Tummy Tuck; we require patients to stop smoking at least 15 days prior to surgery, and not to resume during the healing period.
Drainage Tubes are Used
Two drainage tubes are placed during the procedure in order to allow wound fluid (which is produced by the body after surgery) a route to escape. The drainage tubes remain in place for one week, and are easily removed at your first post-operative visit. You will be shown how to take care of them at home.
Incisions for Tummy Tuck
Any surgical procedure will leave some type of scar. A plastic surgeon specializes in obtaining the least visible scars, and putting them in the least visible places.
The main incision in Abdominoplasty is on the lower abdomen situated at, or below the level of a C-section scar. This incision extends laterally to span from hip bone to hip bone. It generally heals well and is hidden below the bikini line. In the nude, the scar may be visible, depending on the stage of scar maturity. The scar can be placed lower or higher to some degree, depending on patient preferences.
A second incision occurs around of the navel, along the lip. This scar tends to blend naturally with the surrounding skin, and hides within the natural curvature of the navel.
Dr. Tong will discuss all incision options with you thoroughly during your Tummy Tuck consultation.
Tummy Tuck Procedure Details
Dr. Tong carries out your Tummy Tuck under general anesthesia. During the time you are under anesthesia, you are asleep and completely unaware of your surroundings. He performs your surgery in the CAAASF accredited private surgery centre, within the medical complex where his office is located, in downtown Toronto.
Dr. Tong first makes the incisions around the navel and lower abdomen. The skin and fat is then elevated from the muscles. He tightens the muscles (plication) with multiple stitches, rendering the abdominal wall firm and free of laxity. Next, the elevated skin is pulled downwards; the excess, along with its associated fatty tissue, is removed. Prior to the final stitching, Dr. Tong makes a small opening on the remaining abdominal skin, corresponding to the position of the navel. The navel is then brought out through the opening, back to at its original position. Two drainage tubes are also placed in the wound. The incisions are then meticulously stitched together. If the remaining abdominal tissue has a significant fat layer, Dr. Tong may perform some supplementary Liposuction. A dressing is applied, and you are placed in a compression garment.
Overnight Stay after Tummy Tuck
Abdominoplasty is a procedure that usually involves an overnight stay, and we strongly recommend you stay overnight at our Facility. The one evening stay allows you to recover comfortably with professional nursing care, and to be seen by Dr. Tong the next morning without having to go to his office the next day. Our Overnight stay Facility was specifically designed to meet the comfort, convenience, and safety needs of cosmetic surgery patients who benefit from the specialized recovery care, and attention they might not receive at home.
Recovery from Abdominoplasty
Recovery from Tummy Tuck Immediately after your Surgery
After the procedure, our staff transfers you to the post anesthetic recovery area, where you gradually wake up, while being monitored by our registered nurses.
Afterwards, our staff will move you to your Overnight Stay Suite to spend the evening.
Our nurses attend to you throughout the evening to make sure you are comfortable and recovering appropriately. The nurse will assist you in getting up to the bathroom, change dressings as appropriate, and administer medications as needed. They will also teach you how to take care of your drainage tubes prior going home. In the morning, you will have a nurse-assisted shower, and Dr. Tong will come to check on you, change your dressings, and allow you to go home accompanied by your family member or friend.
Recovery from Abdominoplasty at Home
You will notice that it is uncomfortable to stand straight at first. We instruct you to stay slightly bent at the waist for the first 5 days. As the tissues of the abdomen stretch, you will be able to stand straight-up after one week. We encourage you to take it easy, and not perform any strenuous activities. You will have some discomfort in the abdomen, similar to the feeling of sore abdominal muscles after a very strenuous workout. Bruising is typically mild to moderate, but it may be more significant if some Liposuction has been done. Showering is permitted 24-hours hours after surgery. Dr. Tong will prescribe narcotic pain medication which is typically used during the first 1-2 weeks.
Return Visits after Abdominoplasty
Your first post-operative visit with Dr. Tong occurs at one week after your Tummy Tuck. He removes the stitches and drains. You will see him again at 2 weeks after surgery to remove the remaining umbilical (navel) stitches, and have him check on your progress. You will have further follow-up visits at 6 weeks, 6 months, and one year after you Tummy Tuck. Photographs are taken at these visits to document your progress. These photos are for your medical record and are not used for other purposes without your written consent.
Like any procedure, Tummy Tuck Surgery has risks and complications associated with it. The risks are low, but do exist. At your consultation, Dr. Tong will go over the pertinent potential risks and complications associated with Abdominoplasty.
Get Educated About Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) Toronto
It is crucial that you do your research before deciding on whether a Tummy Tuck is right for you. Your journey starts with a personal consultation with Dr. Tong. During your Abdominoplasty consultation, you will receive a substantial amount of information. Dr. Tong will make sure that you understand the entire process, and will see to it that your questions are satisfactorily answered. You will have the opportunity to view photographs of many examples of his work. It is our goal to make you an educated patient. We know that an educated patient will make better decisions about their surgery, and their surgeon.
To learn more about how Toronto Tummy Tuck surgeon Dr. Lawrence Tong can help you with abdomen’s appearance, set up a Tummy Tuck consultation by giving us a call at (416) 972-0999. If you wish, let us give you a call; just fill out our contact form and we will call you on the same or the next business day. No physician’s referral is needed.
See Dr. Tong’s work in our Tummy Tuck before and after photos.
Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) at a Glance
- Placing the scar too high
- Performing the procedure on someone who has significant internal abdominal fat