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Please see our Body Lift section for additional concepts in body reshaping

photo galleryOften, individuals who follow even the most rigorous diet and exercise plan just can’t seem to achieve the flat abdomen they desire. Pregnancy, previous surgeries, age and genetics can all play a role in keeping you from this goal. For such cases, Dr. Barnthouse recommends a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty.

This very effective cosmetic procedure results in a firmer, smoother abdomen by removing excess skin and fat that often accumulates in the area. During an abdominoplasty, Dr, Barnthouse may also tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall for optimal flatness.

About the actual procedure...

In most cases, Dr. Barnthouse begins by making a horizontal incision just above or within the pubic area. The length of the incision varies, and depends on how much excess skin needs to be removed. For women, Dr. Barnthouse pays special attention to keeping the incision below the “bikini line,” allowing patients to wear two-piece swimsuits following surgery.

In addition to removing excess skin and tightening the underlying muscles in your abdomen, the doctor can also trim away skin marred by stretch marks.

Occasionally, the amount of skin to be removed is so significant that a second incision may need to be made around the belly button. In such cases, the belly button, or navel, is actually separated from the deeper tissues to allow extra tightening. Your belly button’s appearance may change slightly with this procedure, but its position will remain the same.

Dr, Barnthouse will perform your abdominoplasty under general anesthesia in a hospital (with a short stay), or an outpatient surgery center depending on scheduling and needs.

Traditional, Mini or Liposuction...which is best for you?

There are actually two types of tummy tucks, plus a third option—liposuction.

Plastic surgeons often refer to the two types of tucks as the “traditional abdominoplasty” and the “mini” abdominoplasty.

The decision on which procedure to choose is based on your body type, your goals and the expert opinion of Dr. Barnthouse.

Candidates for a “mini” abdominoplasty are most concerned with the appearance of their tummy below the belly button, i.e. the “pooch.”

A “mini” requires only a short horizontal incision and no navel incision. Remember, a “mini” will not address sagging above the navel area. If your issues involve the areas below and above your navel, a traditional abdominoplasty is the best choice.

Candidates for liposuction alone possess good skin elasticity and muscle tone, but simply want to remove accumulated abdominal fat in order to achieve a flat stomach. It’s a great option for those women who plan to become pregnant in the future—which can often reverse the effects of a more invasive and expensive tummy tuck.

How you can prepare for surgery...

In the weeks, and especially days, prior to surgery, it’s important to keep your body and metabolism as healthy as possible.

Here are some things you can do to insure a smooth process:

  • Avoid certain medications that may complicate surgery or recovery—Dr. Barnthouse will advise
  • Stop smoking – for good if possible, but at least for a period of time before and after surgery
  • Arrange for help or special care following surgery – you’ll need some assistance to help you through the initial days of discomfort and post-op exhaustion

Post-Surgery: What to expect.

Following your procedure, you’ll be in recovery while you wake up from anesthesia. Many of our patients have small drainage tubes inserted beneath the skin to help prevent fluids from accumulating. Be assured that any discomfort you have from surgery or the drains will be controlled with medications. You’ll also have dressings on your abdomen, which will be covered with tape or an elastic bandage.

Though you probably won’t be able to stand up straight, the nurses will encourage you to get up and out of bed as soon as possible, as this is the best way to promote blood circulation. Of course, we will want you to avoid any straining, bending or lifting in these early days. In addition, Dr. Barnthouse may instruct you to sleep on your back with your knees up for up to a week.

Although everyone heals at a different rate, recovery generally follows this timeline:

One Week Post-Op:

  • Surgical drainage tubes will be removed
  • Sutures will be removed (in 5 to 10 days)
  • Bruising and swelling will peak

Several Weeks Post-Op:

  • Support garments no longer required
  • Allowed to increase activity and exercise
  • Return to non-strenuous activities and work
  • Brusing and swelling further subside
  • Results begin to show!

A few months post-op and beyond:

  • The final result of your surgery is evident
  • Numbness disappears and incision line fades (it may take up to a year to fully fade)
  • Your skin is STILL healing – treat it with care by avoiding sun exposure and wearing dark colors out in the sun (heat absorbed by dark-colored clothing can actually burn your healing skin and complicate recovery).