Tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgery procedure, also known as abdominoplasty, used to remove excess fatty tissue and skin from the abdomen area, while tightening stomach muscles. Sometimes, liposuction techniques are used in conjunction with tummy tuck surgery.
At our modern cosmetic surgery Pittsburgh facility, Dr. Lori Cherup provides consultations for potential Pittsburgh abdominoplasty patients to discuss which procedures best fit their needs.
After a full tummy tuck surgery, you will have a long scar above the pubic hairline extending toward the flanks or beyond, as well as a scar around the umbilicus (belly button) and possibly a shorter vertical scar in the midline just above the pubic hairline. You should discuss your incision lines with cosmetic surgeon Dr. Cherup at one of her Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area offices and plan the incision to accommodate, within limits, different clothing and bathing suit styles. (In cases of extreme skin redundancy - that is, after massive weight loss - a vertical scar extending from the pubic hairline to the lower end of the breastbone may result.)
After a "mini-tummy tuck," you will have neither a scar around the umbilicus nor any possibility of a vertical scar. The horizontal scar above the pubic hairline will be shorter than the scar after a full tummy tuck. Redness, thickness, and some widening of these scars to a variable extent will occur once you return to normal activities. Incisions placed in high-tension areas (i.e., abdomen, shoulders, knees) tend to create slightly wider scars.
If you have chosen an extended tummy tuck, the scars will extend around the hips toward the back.Uneven Skin Contours:
Following tummy tuck surgery, the skin contours may be slightly uneven and areas of slight depression or wrinkling can occur. As healing progresses, most of these problems (if present) usually improve dramatically.Asymmetry:
Minimal asymmetry of tummy tuck scars occurs frequently as healing is not always even from side to side. The mild asymmetry is usually not cosmetically significant. If the asymmetry is significant, revisional surgery of the scars may be considered. Revising the first tummy tuck surgery can be done once you have consulted with your cosmetic surgeon. Dr. Cherup and her Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania located staff can assist you in this area.Bellybutton (Umbilicus):
The bellybutton may be slightly off center, heal poorly, suffer necrosis (loss of circulation), protrude or be unusually retracted. Significant problems are uncommon.Loss of Sensation:
Patients commonly experience areas of partial and/or complete numbness of the abdominal skin following tummy tuck surgery. Few experience permanent loss of feeling, but it may take several months or longer for sensation to return. Rarely, areas of numbness persist.Fat Necrosis:
In rare cases, some of the underlying fat can necrose (die) because of infection or excessive tension. An uncommon problem, it is usually nothing more than a severe annoyance, requiring additional healing time, dressing changes, and sometimes, revision of the scar later. It usually does not seriously affect the ultimate outcome of tummy tuck surgery.Skin Loss:
Like fat necrosis, skin loss can result from infection or excessive tension. The treatment is the same regardless of the cause. Careful preoperative planning and resisting the urge to make the tummy "as tight as possible" reduces but does not eliminate the possibility of this problem occurring."Dog Ears":
When Dr. Cherup closes the angle at the end of the skin incision during the repair, a nipple or projection of bulging tissue called a "dog ear" can occur. Liposuction under the area or extension of the incisions can solve or reduce the problem. If a small "dog ear" appears at the end of tummy tuck surgery, it will usually flatten or disappear with time and healing. If it remains visible, a small procedure under local anesthesia can solve the problem at a later time. Contact one of our locations in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area to correct the tummy tuck problem.
Fat Emboli and Blood Clots: These problems can occur rarely with any surgery, but occur a little more frequently after a tummy tuck. Shortened operating time, postoperative leg movements, and walking soon after tummy tuck surgery help to prevent these problems. Although fat emboli and blood clots can be life threatening, they usually resolve completely with hospitalization and care by a medical specialist.
Fluid Accumulation: Rarely, tissue fluids collect under the abdominal skin flap (usually after the drains have been removed). If this occurs, aspiration of the fluid with a needle two or three times a week for 2-3 weeks usually solves the problem. Few patients require further surgery.
Further information on tummy tuck risks can be obtained by reaching our staff at one of our offices around the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.» Back to top
Because tummy tuck surgery involves removal of the extra abdominal skin and (usually) tightening of the abdominal muscles, you will experience some difficulty standing up straight for a week or two or even longer. During this period, you may find it more comfortable to place a pillow or two under your knees while in bed. The tightness will gradually disappear as you heal and progressively use your body muscles for the activities of daily living. Please make no special attempts to stretch or pull the abdomen straight during the first 2-3 weeks of healing.
You must change your position and walk around the house very few hours to reduce the danger of blood clots after tummy tuck surgery.Dressings:
We will place an elastic abdominal binder around your tummy after surgery to provide some gentle pressure, to give you stability, and to reduce swelling. If it feels too tight or causes pain, take it off. We do not want the binder to interfere with circulation to the skin, which could cause blistering or skin loss! You may also remove it temporarily for laundering.
Many patients wear the binder for several weeks after tummy tuck surgery and some choose to wear it for several months. Let your own comfort and the amount of swelling you experience guide you. We want you as comfortable as possible without swelling.Drains:
Dr. Cherup will probably place two drains into the surgical area at the time of your tummy tuck surgery. These drains evacuate the fluid that accumulates after tummy tuck surgery and enable you to heal faster. When the drain is first put in place, the bulb at the end of each tube will be compressed to create gentle suction. As the fluid collects in the bulb, it will expand.Drain Care:
Secure the bulb of the drain to your clothing or the abdominal binder with a safety pin. Whenever the bulb fills or expands 50% or more, empty the bulb by opening the plug at the top and pouring out the contents. Do not attempt to remove the bulb from the tubing. Squeeze the bulb to recompress it, and put the plug back into the hole at the top in order to maintain the vacuum. If the bulb fills rapidly after emptying it, or you need to empty it more than three times a day, please call our main location in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at (412) 220-8181. Dr. Cherup or a nurse will remove the drains 5-10 days after tummy tuck surgery, when the fluid begins to turn a clear straw color and/or the amount of drainage diminishes. You may shower the day after your drains are removed.Activities:
Tummy tucks are probably the most uncomfortable operation we do. You will experience some pain for 10-20 days and will not feel like resuming sports or heavy exercise for at least 6 weeks. After the first 2 weeks, you may resume moderate walks for as long as is tolerable. Too much initial activity can prolong swelling.Sutures:
Dr. Cherup will remove the sutures around the belly button 5-7 days after surgery and the remaining sutures that are under the skin 14-28 days after tummy tuck surgery.Exposure to Sunlight:
We recommend that you protect your scars from the sun for a year after tummy tuck surgery. Even through a bathing suit, a good deal of sunlight can reach the skin and cause damage. Wear a sunscreen with a skin-protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 when out in sunny weather.
Further information on tummy tuck postoperative instructions can be obtained by reaching our staff at one of our offices in or near the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.» Back to top
Your abdomen will feel tight for a month or longer after tummy tuck surgery. If you have had a muscle repair as well (the usual case), you will feel the most tightness down the center of your tummy where Dr. Cherup has actually repaired your muscles. This hurts more than any other part of the procedure.Healing of Sensory Nerves:
Usually, the skin of the abdomen remains partially or completely numb for several months or longer after tummy tuck surgery. Tingling, burning, or shooting pains indicate regeneration of the small sensory nerves. This feeling will disappear with time and is not cause for alarm. It may take as long as 2 years for sensation in your abdomen to be restored completely.Feeling of Fullness:
You may pleasantly find that you feel full sooner than normal when you begin to eat regular meals.Activities:
If your job keeps you sedentary, you may plan on returning to work in 10-14 days, with the understanding that you will still have discomfort with motion. Please discuss this with Dr. Cherup and the nursing staff. Here again, swelling may indicate too much activity. Do not plan on resuming aerobic or strenuous exercise for about 5-6 weeks after tummy tuck surgery. Let your body tell you what it can do.
For more information on the cosmetic surgery risks, postoperative instructions or healing information for the tummy tuck procedure, contact surgeon Lori Cherup.
Dr. Cherup, renowned female plastic surgeon also provides highly attentive care for Pittsburgh breast augmentation and body lift patients at her safe and comfortable surgical center. Pittsburgh mommy makeover patients also seek out her services.» Back to top