Abdominoplasty is a way for patients to achieve dramatic contouring results in the midsection of the body. Our patients may choose abdominoplasty to reverse the effects of pregnancy or weight gain, removing stubborn fat or tightening stretched abdominal muscles to restore a smoother, flatter abdomen. Some patients also undergo abdominoplasty after massive weight loss, because we can trim away loose folds of skin that are often left behind after shedding pounds quickly. With extensive experience to draw from, we can tailor this procedure to the unique needs of each of our patients, ensuring their results are both natural and beautiful.
The Right Procedure
Abdominoplasty is often called a tummy tuck, but this name can be misleading because its simplicity can imply an easy procedure with a fast recovery. A full abdominoplasty, however, is a major operation that involves the removal of all of the skin between the navel and the pubic area. We also lift the skin above the belly button and pull it down over the abdominal wall, creating a new “button hole” for the navel in the process. We further shape and flatten the abdomen by tightening up the fascia (tissues around the muscles), and treating the hips and pubic area with liposuction.
Abdominoplasty focuses on contouring the front of the abdomen to help patients achieve a flatter, more toned stomach. It does not tighten the skin of the hips or legs, and it is definitely not a method of weight loss. We can add liposuction around the hips, flanks and back if necessary to produce additional sculpting around this area. Occasionally a circumferential body lift can make sense if a patient has lost a large amount of weight and has loose skin all the way around the torso, or we may suggest thigh or arm lifts in conjunction with the tummy tuck to address loose skin elsewhere on the body.
At Banff Plastic Surgery, we use customized surgical plans and specialized techniques to ensure your comfort, safety and satisfaction during your surgery and beyond. Our hallmark drain-free abdominoplasty technique uses quilting sutures to prevent fluid buildup in the surgical site. These “progressive tension advancement sutures” replace standard surgical drains, (which are usually unsightly and must be removed at an early follow-up appointment). Quilting sutures help prevent seroma formation, decrease swelling and take the tension off the incision which ultimately leaves a better scar. Quilting sutures demand more time and skill in the operating room, but we find our patients are more comfortable and have less swelling than those patients who have drains.
The Right Patient
Good candidates for abdominoplasty are close to their ideal body weight and in good health. They are preferably non-smokers who are committed to maintaining their weight and physique following their surgery. For optimal results, patients should have a relatively flat abdomen when they lie down. If you have a history of blood clots or other pre-existing health conditions that affect circulation, be sure to tell us during your consultation so that we can make sure you will be safe during your surgery. The results of a tummy tuck can last a lifetime if you are prepared to take care of your body, but natural changes in your abdomen due to pregnancy or future weight gain can still occur. If you are not finished having children, we may recommend that you wait until your family is complete before undergoing abdominoplasty.
We will also work with you to ensure that you have realistic expectations of what an abdominoplasty can do for you. If you are overweight, this procedure cannot remove excess fat from inside your abdomen. If you have stretch marks or sun-damaged skin on your abdomen, a tummy tuck will not necessarily improve these concerns. There will also be a long and permanent scar that stretches from hipbone to hipbone. While the scar will fade over time, it could take up to a year or more before settling into its permanent appearance. It may always be somewhat visible in low-cut bathing suits or lingerie.
The Right Reasons
Many of our patients are finished having children and want to feel better about the way they look after pregnancy. Patients who have lost a significant amount of weight may also find that abdominoplasty is the way to put the finishing touches on their weight loss efforts. An abdominoplasty can improve the way your clothes fit or the way your stomach looks in two-piece bathing suits. Many patients also have breast changes that they want corrected or improved; the combination of breast and body sculpting procedures is often called a “mommy makeover”. We encourage you to visit us for an in-person consultation with Dr. Elizabeth Hall-Findlay. After an evaluation of your needs and your body type, we will be able to recommend a procedure or a set of procedures that will be best for you. Even if a tummy tuck is not right for you right now, we may be able to suggest other possibilities or help you create a plan to achieve your body sculpting goals over time.
During your consultation with Dr. Hall-Findlay, you will also talk about your interest in an abdominoplasty and what has led you to seek one at this point in your life. Since a tummy tuck is a procedure that takes so much time and effort, we want to make sure that you will be able to fully enjoy your results and make your surgery and recovery completely worthwhile. It is our priority to be sure we can meet your expectations and leave you feeling happy and confident in your new body for a lifetime.
The Right Time
Optimal physical and mental health is required for the best possible results. Some of our patients may find it is appropriate to wait for surgery until they are in a better situation to move forward, such as establishing a diet and exercise routine, completing their families or achieving a weight loss goal. We will also work with you to ensure that your tummy tuck will not be an undue financial burden or that you are not seeking an abdominoplasty when there are healthier or simpler alternatives.
You will also need to take your own schedule into consideration as well, since it is important to give yourself ample time after surgery for a safe and healthy recovery process. While some abdominoplasties can be performed on an outpatient basis, some patients may need an overnight recovery. Banff Plastic Surgery has a fully accredited in-office surgical facility and patients either stay overnight in a hotel or they can go back home. Patients who need an overnight stay will have their surgery performed at the nearby Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff. After you have returned home from your abdominoplasty, it takes about one month to get back to normal activities and about two months to get back to a more active lifestyle. It can take a few more months for all residual swelling to fade, and up to a year before your scar has settled into its permanent appearance.
If you are interested in learning more about whether an abdominoplasty is right for you, we invite you to visit Banff Plastic Surgery in Banff, Alberta for a consultation with Dr. Hall-Findlay. During this in-person meeting, we can fully evaluate your needs, your goals, your body type and your lifestyle to help you decide whether you are the right patient and it is the right time for a tummy tuck surgery. Call us today at 403-762-2055 to learn more.