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Aging and major life events (such as pregnancy and weight fluctuation) can gradually weaken the muscles, skin and other tissues that make up the abdomen and abdominal wall. The belly region is also an area where stubborn fatty tissue may accumulate, particularly over time as the metabolism slows. These concerns add up to a common aesthetic problem: a protruding or sagging stomach that won’t flatten, even with diet and exercise efforts. For those who are faced with this problem, a tummy tuck procedure can help — this surgery is specifically designed to remove fatty tissue and tighten up any loose muscles or excess skin in the area. While there are a few different tummy tuck techniques depending on each patient’s needs, every procedure has the same four main components to help patients achieve a flatter belly.
A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgery that addresses aesthetic concerns of the abdomen. The abdomen is a common “problem area” — it’s one of the parts of the body that accumulates and keeps body fat most easily. Sometimes this fat can be reduced through a fitness routine, but for many, it never goes away completely. The abdomen also expands with weight gain and with pregnancy, and in many cases cannot contract to its former tone. In these cases, any unwanted belly protrusion might be caused by sagging muscles or skin, so no amount of exercise can help.
A tummy tuck procedure does exactly what the name implies: “tucking” a sagging or protruding belly to restore a natural, flat contour to the abdomen. When diet and exercise do little to trim off excess weight in the area, a tummy tuck offers an effective way to achieve the figure you want.
Since excess fatty tissue is often a significant factor in unwanted belly bulges, removing it paves the way for the body sculpting component of the procedure. In order to do this, your surgeon will use liposuction. Liposuction entails making small incisions on the abdomen and inserting a small tube-like tool called a cannula. The device then suctions out excess fatty tissue. These incisions may be utilized to access skin and underlying musculature, or they will be well-hidden around the flanks or lower abdomen.
In all areas of the body, the skin will naturally bulge and expand to accommodate excess fatty tissue. This, in turn, leaves behind sagging skin that appears in folds when fat is no longer present. For people who have lost significant weight, this excess skin will mask any muscular definition that has developed, which can be discouraging. To avoid this dilemma, removing excess skin makes up the second component of a tummy tuck procedure.
Once any excess skin is removed, the surgeon will re-drape the remaining skin so it appears smooth and taut across the abdomen. Any incisions made at this point will be hidden along the lower part of the torso, between the lower belly and the pubic region. Any scarring is usually easily covered by swimwear when summer rolls around.
The muscles that make up the abdomen can become loose over time. The thin sheath surrounding your muscles, known as the fascia, also loosens with age. The fascia works to hold muscles in place, and when it loses its structure, the muscles may start to bulge forward. Likewise, when muscles lose their tone and tightness or when they are stretched due to pregnancy, they start to separate. The combined effects of loose fascia and lax muscles create an unwanted “belly pooch” appearance.
A tummy tuck procedure addresses these problems by repositioning abdominal muscles to restore a flat abdominal wall. The surgeon also stitches the fascia back together, which helps keep the muscles in place. The result produces a flat, toned and tight midsection.
With some tummy tuck procedures, the belly button or navel may need to be repositioned to align naturally with the abdomen and pelvis. The navel itself remains attached to the abdominal wall during the procedure, but the surrounding skin will be moved as excess skin is cut away or repositioned. Creating an appealing belly button is simply a matter of creating a hole in the skin for the navel to show through, and suturing the navel in place. While the effective position remains the same, it will look proportional to your flatter profile and can appear smaller and more aesthetically appealing.
Tummy tuck procedures can be done in different ways depending on the areas of the abdomen you want to trim down and the extent of your concerns. During your consultation appointment, your surgeon will go over the different options in detail and advise as to which procedure will best fulfill your aesthetic goals. There are several tummy tuck options to consider, including:
A full tummy tuck, also called a traditional tummy tuck, is the most common option and is designed to reshape the entire abdominal wall, which includes both the upper and lower regions. The extended tummy tuck not only targets the entire abdominal wall but also the sides of your waist, or flanks. This option works well for people who’ve lost large amounts of weight and want to get rid of excess skin folds. The mini tummy tuck uses a smaller incision than a traditional abdominoplasty and works best for those with limited, mostly external concerns of the mid- to lower belly such as a skin paunch or stretch marks between the belly button and pubic region. The extended mini tummy tuck is ideal for those whose skin concerns are limited to the lower abdomen, but may have some degree of muscle separation — this technique allows clients to have a smaller scar on the lower abdomen, while still addressing internal concerns.
The best way to determine whether a tummy tuck is right for you is to discuss your concerns with a board-certified plastic surgeon. If you are interested in an abdominoplasty in Atlanta, our surgeons at Advanced Aesthetics Plastic Surgery have the level of training and experience needed to deliver the quality results you deserve. Contact us today at 770-461-4000 to schedule a consultation with our doctors at one of our four convenient locations in LaGrange, Newnan, McDonough and Fayetteville, Georgia.