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This procedure flattens your abdomen by removing extra fat and skin and tightening muscles in your abdominal wall. But be cautioned: This is a major surgery, so if you're considering it, take the time to educate yourself, thoroughly analyze your own situation, and do not rush to make the final decision. A tummy tuck should be the option for people who have exhausted all other measures to diminish belly fat, and the procedure should not be used as an alternative to weight loss.

Who are the best candidates for a tummy tuck?

A tummy tuck is suitable for both men and women who are in good general health overall.

A tummy tuck should not be confused with a liposuction (the cosmetic surgery used to remove fat deposits), although your surgeon may elect to perform liposuction as part of a tummy tuck. Women who have muscles and skin stretched by multiple pregnancies may find the procedure useful to tighten those muscles and reduce that skin. A tummy tuck is also an alternative for men or women who were obese at one point in their lives, and still have excessive fat deposits or loose skin in the abdominal area.

When you should avoid the surgery?

If you're a woman who is still planning to have children, you may want to postpone a tummy tuck until you're through bearing children. Here's why: During surgery, your vertical muscles are tightened. Future pregnancies can separate these muscles.
Are you still planning to lose a lot of weight? Then you do not want to consider a tummy tuck.
It's important to note that a tummy tuck can cause prominent, permanent scarring. If this is something you don't want, you may want to reconsider. Your doctor will discuss all these options with you when you go for the consultation.
How is a tummy tuck done?

Depending on your desired results, this surgery can take anywhere from one to five hours. The complexity of your particular situation also will determine whether you have it completed as an in-patient or outpatient procedure. You will receive general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep during the operation. It's important to have someone with you who can drive you home. If you live alone, you also will need someone to stay with you at least the first night after the surgery, if you're sent home that soon.

What is complete abdominoplasty?

Your abdomen will be cut from hipbone to hipbone in this procedure, the option for those patients who require the most correction. The incision will be made low, at about the same level as your pubic hair. Your surgeon will then manipulate and contour the skin, tissue and muscle as needed. Your belly button will have a new opening if you undergo this procedure, because it's necessary to free your navel from surrounding tissue. Drainage tubes may be placed under your skin, and these will be removed in a few days as your surgeon sees fit.

What’s the difference in partial or mini abdominoplasty?

You and your surgeon will discuss your desired results, and he or she will determine the appropriate procedure during your consultation. Mini-abdominoplasties are often performed on patients whose fat deposits are located below the navel and require shorter incisions. During this procedure, your belly button most likely will not be moved. Your skin will be separated between the line of incision and your belly button. This type of surgery may also be performed with an endoscope (small camera on the end of a tube). This procedure may only take up to two hours, again, depending on your own personal situation and the complexity of your needs.

Whether you're having a partial or complete tummy tuck, your incision site will be stitched and bandaged. It's very important that you follow all your surgeon's instructions on how to care for the bandage in the days following surgery. This will be a firm, elastic bandage that promotes proper healing. Your surgeon will also instruct you on how to best position yourself while sitting or lying down to help ease pain.
If you are an exceptionally physically active person, beware: You will have to severely limit strenuous exercise for at least six weeks. Your doctor will advise you on this as you go through the process. You may need to take up to one month off of work after the surgery to ensure proper recovery. Again, yo