Tummy Tuck: Before Your Surgery

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What is a tummy tuck?

A tummy tuck is surgery to remove fat and skin from your belly. It also tightens the stomach muscles. The surgery will make your belly look flatter. It is also called an abdominoplasty.

There are several types of tummy tuck surgeries. Your doctor will discuss with you which one would be best for you.

The doctor will make a cut in the skin from one hip bone to the other. This cut is called an incision. Another incision will loosen the belly button from the tissue underneath it. Then this skin flap is pulled down from the ribs. The doctor will tighten the muscles in the belly. Excess skin and fat are taken off, and the skin is brought together and closed. A tummy tuck leaves a long scar across your lower stomach and a smaller one around your belly button. The scars will fade with time.

You may spend 1 or 2 days in the hospital for a tummy tuck, or you may go home on the day of surgery.

You may have a less complex tummy tuck surgery. This is sometimes called a mini tummy tuck, and your recovery will be a little easier. With a mini tummy tuck, the doctor makes a shorter incision. Less skin is removed and only the lower stomach muscles are tightened. Unlike a full tummy tuck, a mini tummy tuck usually involves liposuction. This uses suction to remove fat. You will need to take it easy for 2 to 3 weeks at home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines, including natural health products, such as vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 3 to 5 hours.
  • You may have one or two drain tubes near the incision to drain fluid. These will stay in for 2 to 10 days after surgery.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: October 13, 2016