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Background: The tummy tuck is one of the most commonly performed procedures in body contouring surgery. It is used in a wide range of body types that have developed excessive abdominal skin and fat. As a result the procedure can be modified in many ways to suit the patient’s tissue removal needs. How long the tummy tuck incision needs to be and whether liposuction is performed as part of the same procedure are always the two main considerations.\

Another important consideration is what should the patient’s weight be at the time of the procedure. Many patients seek a tummy tuck that are more than their ideal body weight. They may want to lose weight before having surgery and may even have a target weight in mind. Others say they can not lose any more weight and need the surgery to get them ‘jumpstarted’ on their weight loss.

While a tummy tuck and/or liposuction should never be thought of as a weight loss procedure, it obviously will cause some amount of weight loss afterwards due to tissue removal and the catabolic effects of the surgical trauma. It is a good general rule that patients should be within 10 to 15 lbs of their goal weight before having body contouring surgery to get the best resuilts.

Case Study: This 28 year-old female had always been overweight but became more so having several children. Despite her best efforts she was unable to get close to her ideal body weight and had the body type that was never going to get close anyway.

Under general anesthesia, she underwent a full tummy tuck with umbilical transposition. Liposuction was done on the upper abdomen and out into the flanks removing 1,800ccs of aspirate. Her six week after results showed major improvement with the elimination of any tissue overhang and the noticeable improvement in her waistline. Her scars remained red as expected at this early point after surgery and will take another six months to maximally fade.

While tummy tucks should ideally be performed when someone is close to their ideal body weight or weight loss goal, this is not always possible. Some people just don’t have the body type attain an ideal weight and others can not always make the commitment needed to do it even if it were possible. While the result may not always be as good than if the patient’s weight was lower, noticeable improvements will be seen. The favorable change may provide some additional incentive for the patient to see how much better they can now due on their own.

Highlights:

  1. A tummy tuck can be performed in anyone that has excessive abdominal skin and fat. But the lower one’s weight at the time of the surgery the better the result will be.
  2. Most full tummy tucks in larger abdomens will require liposuction into the flanks along the sides for better contouring.
  3. The maturation of tummy tuck scars can take up to six months or longer.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

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