If you’re considering a tummy tuck (also known as an abdominoplasty), leave all your inquiries for Houston, TX plastic surgeon Olga Bachilo, MD, who is answering the four most frequently-asked tummy questions in her practice.
1. What is a full tummy tuck versus a mini tummy tuck?
“In a full tummy tuck, the whole abdomen is addressed so the incision is nice and low and the entire abdomen is tightened, so we bring the muscles together above and below the umbilicus (belly button). The excess skin—usually the entire section below the umbilicus—is completely removed. In a mini tummy tuck, only the bottom of the abdomen is addressed, and only a small amount of skin is removed right above the pubic bone. In this case, only the muscles below the belly button are tightened. Generally, it’s a limited type of procedure and not everyone is a good candidate for it. Most commonly, people who undergo these procedures have just finished having children, had significant weight loss, or they want to tighten the aging skin on their upper abdomen.”
2. What does recovery entail for a tummy tuck?
“The full downtime is about six weeks after a tummy tuck. There are restrictions against heavy lifting and strenuous activities. After this time, patients can fully return to all normal activities.
Additionally, I don’t use drains in my tummy tucks because I use something called progressive tension sutures, so all of the skin that we raise is then placed back down with stitches to the abdominal wall. This ensures that no fluid accumulates and fully replaces any drains or tubes. Patients like not having to worry about draining tubes, and this technique helps with recovery. I also use a long-acting numbing injection in the abdomen, and it provides 72-hour pain control. Most patients do really well with this—they’re up and walking immediately after surgery and they physically come to the office the next day.”
3. Is there a lot of pain after surgery?
“Patients often ask for liposuction because they can’t afford the downtime of a tummy tuck, but, while liposuction incisions are small, the work under the skin is quite extensive and the pain can often last for longer. Sometimes, several months after surgery there is still some pain from liposuction, and I find that the discomfort lasts much longer than from a tummy tuck, which usually only lasts a week or two.”
4. How long is surgery?
If we’re doing a tummy tuck, surgery lasts between three and four hours. Most often, we combine procedures, so we do liposuction on the back or liposuction with a fat transfer alongside the tummy tuck. Or, we do the full mommy makeover, where it’s an all-in-one tummy tuck, liposuction, fat transfer and breast augmentation or lift. The length of the procedure depends on what other treatments the patient is receiving alongside their tummy tuck.”