Despite a normal body weight, some people can still have a protruding abdomen that is loose, saggy, and shapeless. This often occurs due to age, pregnancy, previous surgery or weight loss. When there is too much excess skin, or if the abdominal muscles are widely separated, no amount of exercise or dieting can allow you to achieve a flat and well-toned abdomen. In some people who have undergone massive weight loss, excess skin and fat may sag not just at the abdomen, but all around their lower bodies (including their sides and their backs). Their buttocks and thighs may also be flabby and deflated.
An abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy-tuck, removes unwanted fat and skin from the abdomen to create a flatter abdominal profile. It can also restore weakened or separated muscles (known as divarification) for a firmer and trimmer look.
A lower body lift, also known as a circumferential body lift, is an extension of the abdominoplasty procedure whereby unwanted fat and skin are removed through a surgical scar that goes all around the lower body. At the same time, the buttocks can be lifted and the outer thighs slimmed with liposuction. Your plastic surgeon will help you in choosing the most suitable procedure for you based on your existing body shape.
It is important to realise that these procedures are not substitutes for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program. They also cannot correct stretch marks, although there may be an improvement in their appearance if the stretch marks are located in the area of excess skin that is to be removed.
For the abdominoplasty procedure, a low horizontal incision is used near the pubic region so that some of the scar can be hidden by undergarments. After the abdominal skin and fat are lifted, the abdominal muscles are repaired if they appear weakened and separated. The abdominal skin is pulled down and excess skin is cut away. The remaining skin is stitched together. A separate incision is used to re-position the belly button.
In the lower body lift, the low horizontal incision of the abdominoplasty is extended across the sides and the back for removal of excess skin and fat all around. Sometimes, some of the excess tissue at the back can be used to augment the buttocks to lift and improve their shape. Removal of skin and fat in this manner also helps to lift and improve the outer thighs.
Liposuction may be performed together with either procedure to achieve the best results.
After the Surgery
Your incisions will be dressed and small tubes (drains) may be placed to remove the excess blood and fluid for several days. A tight compression garment will be fitted afterwards to keep the swelling down and support the abdominal muscle repair. This will need to be worn continuously for several weeks until your surgeon advises otherwise. It will usually take at least 4 to 6 weeks before you can perform exercise again.
As long as your weight does not fluctuate, the results of your abdominoplasty or lower body lift should last for many years. Thus, we recommend that these procedures are postponed if you are planning substantial weight loss or considering future pregnancies.
Many people undergo successful abdominoplasty or lower body lift surgery with no major problems and good results. Anyone considering surgery, however, should be aware of both the benefits and risks: • Anaesthetic risks• Blood clots in the legs or lungs • Excess blood accumulation (haematoma)• Excess fluid accumulation (seroma)• Damage to underlying structures• Infection• Prolonged swelling or bruising• Poor wound healing• Poor scarring • Numbness, which may be temporary or permanent
You may need to undergo revision surgery to correct some of these problems. The subject of risks, as well as potential complications of surgery is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon.
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