At a certain point in our lives, achieving a firm stomach may prove impossible. No matter how strict your diet or how many crunches you do, a soft abdominal pooch may remain. Although there are many reasons for a protruding or sagging abdomen, the most common causes are poor skin elasticity from the aging process, stretched and loose skin after weight loss, and separated abdominal muscles caused by pregnancy.
Otherwise known as an “abdominoplasty,” the tummy tuck is a surgical procedure designed to smooth and flatten the stubborn stomach. The technique can leave your clothing, even swimwear, fitting better. Dr. Amy Ortega of Clevens Face and Body Specialists in Melbourne, FL is a board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in breast and body procedures, including the tummy tuck. She performs a cutting-edge abdominoplasty technique to remove excess skin and fat, tighten stomach muscles, and create a flatter, smoother, and more toned appearing abdomen.
A Tummy Tuck Consultation with Dr. Ortega
Prior to scheduling an abdominoplasty, you’ll want to schedule a private consultation with Dr. Ortega to get all your questions answered and determine if a tummy tuck is right for you. This will provide time to discuss your aesthetic goals and desires, and your expectations for the surgical results. The consultation will include a physical examination.
Dr. Ortega will then explain the abdominoplasty options in full, discussing the recovery process, potential complications, and incisions. She will help to find the ideal location for the post-procedure scar. Dr. Ortega will share before and after photos of her patients, assisting with a visual picture of the potential results. Together, you and Dr. Ortega will determine if the abdominoplasty is the right procedure to reach your anticipated results. At this appointment, the cost of the procedure will be determined, and a patient care coordinator will review your payment options.
The Ideal Candidate for a Tummy Tuck
Men and women looking to improve the curvature of the waist, remove excess or loose skin, or have abdominal muscles tightened find a tummy tuck will bring significant benefits. The abdominoplasty procedure is best for patients at a stable weight and in generally good health.
Pregnancy can cause the abdominal muscles to separate, and the skin to appear loose along the stomach. These women can be excellent candidates for the abdominoplasty, as long as there are no plans for future pregnancies, which can undo results. It is possible in some cases to incorporate the tummy tuck into an existing scar, such as the one left from a cesarean section.
Sometimes confused with liposuction, a tummy tuck is not a weight loss surgery. Although the technique can be combined with liposuction to provide ideal body sculpting results, the abdominoplasty is often recommended for patients who are at their ideal weight. During your consultation appointment, Dr. Ortega will determine if the tummy tuck is the right procedure to meet your unique aesthetic goals.
The Abdominoplasty Procedure
The abdominoplasty will take from 3-4 hours to perform under general anesthesia, usually as an outpatient surgery. Dr. Ortega will tailor each abdominoplasty procedure to the needs and desires of each patient, using one of two techniques.
- Complete abdominoplasty – The most common tummy tuck procedure, a complete abdominoplasty is required in most cases. To begin, an incision will be made across the lower abdomen, typically just above pubic region, running from hip to hip. A secondary incision will also be made around the navel.
Once the incisions are made, Dr. Ortega will manipulate the muscles, as needed, up to the rib cage, suturing the muscles of the abdomen. Once the muscles are in their desired place, the skin will be pulled taut, and any excess trimmed away to leave a smooth stomach.
- Partial or mini-abdominoplasty – Performed less often than a full tummy tuck, the mini-tummy tuck (limited abdominoplasty) is designed for patients with isolated fat deposits below the navel. This technique sometimes utilizes a shorter abdominal incision, and unlike the full tummy tuck, does not require the repositioning of the belly button.
Once the desired corrections have been completed, Dr. Ortega will suture the remaining tissues. Drains will be placed to avoid the accumulation of fluid. Surgical dressings and a compression garment will also be added for proper healing.
The Tummy Tuck Recovery
Abdominoplasty patients will see Dr. Ortega for post-op visits following their surgery to allow her to monitor progress. During this first 3-4 weeks of recovery, a binder or compression garment will need to remain in place. After the first 1-3 weeks, Dr. Ortega will remove the drains.
Swelling and bruising are common after surgery, and may last three weeks or longer. Patients can typically walk unaided within a day of the surgery, although it may take a week or longer before the stomach can be stretched for standing fully straight. Moderate discomfort is common during the initial recovery. However, Dr. Ortega will work with you to make your recovery as comfortable as possible. In her practice, Dr. Ortega offers the option of “Exparel” a local analgesic medicine used while you’re still asleep during your procedure. During your first few days after surgery, Exparel works to keep you comfortable and minimize the need for narcotic pain medications that can cause nausea.
Most people are feeling well enough to return to work in 10 to 14 days. Bending, stretching, and lifting should be avoided for the first week; after which time, strenuous exercise should remain off limits for six weeks. Tightness and soreness are common, but will dissipate over the first several weeks. Full healing from an abdominoplasty can sometimes take as long as six months.
Why Choose Clevens Face and Body Specialists?
Dr. Amy Ortega is a Board Certified, double-fellowship trained plastic surgeon. She brings more than two decades of experience to every patient. A respected surgeon, Dr. Ortega’s innovative style and artistic eye give her the ability to provide the safest and most satisfying results. An integral part of Clevens Face and Body Specialists, Dr. Ortega’s offices are centrally located, easily accessible from Merritt Island, Vero Beach, Melbourne, and Orlando. To schedule an abdominoplasty consultation with Dr. Ortega, contact our office at 321.727.3223.
Tummy Tuck FAQ
What is a tummy tuck?
The abdominoplasty is a surgical method for eliminating loose, stretched muscle and skin from the abdomen. Dr. Ortega will tighten the stomach muscles and the remaining tissues for a flatter stomach.
Is there a tummy tuck alternative that does not involve surgery?
While some creams and non-invasive products tout the ability to tighten the skin, they do not have the ability to create a tighter abdomen. Repairing muscles that have pulled during pregnancy or after dramatic weight loss, or removing excess sagging skin can only be achieved through an abdominoplasty.
Am I a good candidate for the tummy tuck procedure at Clevens Face and Body Specialists?
If you are in overall good health, understand the abdominoplasty procedure, and hold reasonable expectations for the results, then you may make an excellent candidate for the tummy tuck. The best way to determine if you are a candidate is to schedule a consultation with a breast and body specialist like Dr. Amy Ortega.
Can I get a tummy tuck if I am overweight?
An abdominoplasty is not a weight loss solution. Most patients considering the procedure should be at a healthy, stable weight. However, sometimes a tummy tuck can also be a part of ongoing weight loss efforts, even if you haven’t reached your goal.
When can I return to work after my tummy tuck?
Dr. Ortega’s patients generally feel well enough to return to work in about one to two weeks, sometimes less.
Will my tummy tuck scar?
Yes, an abdominoplasty does result in a scar, running from hip to hip, close to the pelvic bone. Dr. Ortega will carefully place the incisions so the scars can be concealed under clothing or swim wear.
What are the risks of a tummy tuck procedure?
Complications from the tummy tuck are rare. However, as it is a surgical procedure, there is a small risk of infection, excessive bleeding, scarring, asymmetry, and permanent numbness to occur.
Will a tummy tuck remove my stretch marks?
It is not likely that all signs of stretching will be erased. At your consultation appointment, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your aesthetic goals with Dr. Ortega and get all your questions answered.
Can I get pregnant after having a tummy tuck?
Yes, it is safe to become pregnant following a tummy tuck. However, pregnancy after an abdominoplasty can undo the results of the procedure. The changing size of the stomach may mean stretching of the abdominal muscles and causing the skin to sag. If you are considering becoming pregnant, Dr. Ortega recommends waiting on an abdominoplasty.
Can I have a tattoo on my tummy tuck scars?
Patients should wait a year after their tummy tuck before tattooing over scars. This will provide adequate time for incisions to heal and swelling to resolve completely. It will take a full year from the procedure to determine how much the scars will fade.