|What are the limitations? |
The skin is usually tightened downwards and this does not tighten the waist. If this is desired then one can consider removing skin vertically leaving an extra scar, but one should bear in mind that vertical scars of the abdomen are unsightly.
The tissue of the abdominal wall is generally fatter than the groin and if liposuction is not carried out a fatty bulge may remain above the scar. The beneficial effects of the operation will last well, however, the effects will be maintained better if the patient keeps exercising the muscles and maintains their weight. A further pregnancy will of course stretch the skin again, although probably not to the same degree.
What are the risks?
The standard abdominoplasty is a large procedure requiring two to four days hospitalisation. Drains are removed when they stop draining blood and serum a few days after the procedure. This fluid can reaccumulate after the drains are removed requiring drainage or aspiration.
Healing can be slow particularly in the tighter central part of the wound and sometimes dressings are needed for a few weeks. This is more common in patients who are overweight (over BMI of 30) and who smoke. This tends to leave more obvious scars which are tethered - these can be revised.
Secondary procedures are sometimes carried out to tidy up the results and will involve scar revision and limited liposuction. Displacement of the umbilicus to one side has been over publicised and is rare. Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus are rare complications of any operation including this one.
What would you need to do before the operation?
If you are overweight you would be well advised to diet as best results are obtained in people who are the correct weight for their height. If you are taking the contraceptive pill you should stop doing so for six weeks before surgery and use an alternative method in order to reduce the risk of thrombosis. If you smoke there is a greater risk of chest infection and wound infection.
What should you expect at the time of the operation?
You will need to be in hospital for one to three days. When you wake up for your operation it is likely that you will be having a transfusion of salt solution. This is quite normal and is to provide you with fluid you need whilst you are not drinking. You are likely to have drainage tubes coming out of each side of the lower abdomen which are there to drain any collection of blood or serum. You can expect some moderately severe pain for which you will be given pain killing tablets or injections. You will be asked to keep your knees and hips bent to take the strain off your stitches.
Over activity in the early days reduces healing and increases fluid accumulation. Light activities are comfortable in 10 to 20 days. Sports will not be possible for about 6 weeks particularly when the muscles have been strengthened with sutures. A corset is usually helpful to reduce the swelling and improve comfort in the first month.
Time back to sedentary work - average 3-4 weeks
Time back to strenuous activity/gym - average 6 weeks