A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure to improve abdominal contour. It is performed under general anesthetic in an operating room setting. To understand how a tummy tuck is performed, it may be broken down into three main steps:

Skin incisions

The first step when a tummy tuck is performed involves skin incisions.  Incisions are made along the lower abdomen from hip to hip, as well as around the belly button.  The remainder of the procedure is performed in a deeper plane as the skin and soft tissues are undermined to the level of the ribcage.  This creates exposure for the remainder of the procedure and maximizes the removal of redundant skin and soft tissues in a later step.

Muscle tightening

Once undermining has been completed to the level of the lower ribcage curvature, the abdominal wall may be fully visualized.  A rectus diastasis is commonly present, which refers to gapping between the abdominal wall muscles at the midline.  It often develops following weight fluctuations and pregnancies.  The muscle separation is then repaired through the “rectus plication”, which reinforces the abdominal wall by stitching the muscles back closer together. This creates a flatter appearance of the abdominal wall and may increase abdominal core strength following adequate healing.

Removal of redundant skin and soft tissues

Following completion of the muscle repair, redundant skin of the lower abdomen is then removed.  In most cases, the loose tissue between belly button level and the lower abdominal incision may be completely removed.  This may improve the appearance of stretch marks if confined to the lower abdomen.  The tissue above the belly button level is then stretched with the operating room table slightly flexed at the waist to allow wound closure.  The incisions are closed in a layered fashion and the belly button is then uncovered. Although its position remains stable on the umbilical stalk, the belly button is brought out through the overlying abdominal skin once the redundant skin is removed and the tissues are stretched.

A tummy tuck may be an effective procedure to improve abdominal contour following weight loss and pregnancies.  Appropriate candidates are non-smokers of healthy and stable BMI.  Patients may generally return to office-based work within a week or two of surgery. The abdominal binder should be worn for 6 weeks post-operatively to support the muscle repair site and to decrease swelling and risk of fluid collection. Exercise should also be avoided over this time period to lower risk of healing complications.

Please contact us if considering body contouring procedures in the Toronto area to schedule a consultation with female plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Power.

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