Houston Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
An abdominoplasty, otherwise known as a tummy tuck, is a plastic surgery procedure designed to address loose or excess skin and deposits of fat in the abdomen. An abdominoplasty can improve the function and shape of the abdominal wall. Many individuals who have lost a substantial amount of weight in their abdominal area as well as individuals who have already had some type of abdominal surgery (e.g., a C-section, a hysterectomy, etc.) are usually good candidates for an abdominoplasty. At Lift Plastic Surgery in Houston, double board-certified Plastic Surgeons Dr. Shitel Patel and Dr. Tuan Truong perform abdominoplasties to help their patients achieve the flat, more contoured abdomen they desire.
Who is a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck in Houston?
Despite diet and exercise, many individuals find it difficult to address the final abdominal changes following significant weight loss or pregnancy. An abdominoplasty may be his or her best option for addressing these changes.
A good candidate for a Houston abdominoplasty is someone who would like to have a trimmer-looking abdomen, who has abdominal skin that sags, residual fat deposits that need to be removed, a lower abdominal area that sticks out (i.e., a pooch) as well as someone with a separated abdominal muscle (i.e., diastasis recti or rectus abdominis diastasis) that requires correction.
It is important to note that to ensure lasting results, women interested in having a tummy tuck must have no intentions of becoming pregnant at any point in the future.
Is There More Than One Type of Abdominoplasty?
Yes, there are three abdominoplasty procedures frequently performed at Lift Plastic Surgery in Houston: a mini abdominoplasty, a full tummy tuck and an extended abdominoplasty.
How Do These Houston Tummy Tuck Procedures Differ?
Each abdominoplasty performed at Lift Plastic Surgery is designed to slim and tighten the waist to provide the patient with a more youthful-looking, shapely abdominal area.
The three tummy tuck procedures available at Lift Plastic Surgery in Houston are the:
- Mini Tummy Tuck – During this procedure, the surgeon addresses excess skin and fat deposits located beneath the navel (aka belly button or umbilicus).
- Full Tummy Tuck – This procedure is ideal for individuals who have lost a substantial amount of weight or are displeased with the way their bodies have aged. In addition, women who are experiencing unwanted abdominal changes following pregnancy can benefit from a full abdominoplasty.
- Extended Tummy Tuck – During this procedure, Dr. Patel or Dr. Truong addresses issues related to the tissues, skin and muscles throughout the entire abdominal area. The abdominal area consists of the area beneath the patient’s navel all the way up to his or her rib cage.
What is a Panniculectomy?
A panniculectomy is usually considered a medical procedure as opposed to a cosmetic one. For example, an individual who has lost a substantial amount of weight may be left with an excessive amount of tissue, skin and residual fat in the abdominal area. This excess skin can cause rashes and skin infections. These individuals may be ideal candidates for a panniculectomy. Furthermore, when this procedure is deemed medically necessary, health insurance usually covers a portion of the charges.
Can a Tummy Tuck or a Panniculectomy Be Used to Lose Weight?
While small deposits of fat can be removed during these procedures, unfortunately, neither is designed to remove a substantial amount of excess fat.
Can Diastasis Recti Be Corrected During an Abdominoplasty?
Yes, at Lift Plastic Surgery Dr. Tuan Truong and Dr. Shitel Patel address diastasis recti while performing Houston tummy tucks.
Procedure Details: Abdominoplasty and Panniculectomy
A tummy tuck and a panniculectomy can be performed as outpatient procedures, however, some patients do prefer to remain in the hospital overnight.
If a patient is returning home directly following the procedure, a driver is required. For safety’s sake, Lift Plastic Surgery does not permit patients to use any type of for-hire or public transportation following procedures requiring anesthesia. Therefore, patients who arrive for surgery without a driver will need to reschedule their procedure.
The Day of Surgery
Patients who will be heading home after their procedure need to bring a driver with them. Patients who are staying overnight can be dropped off for their procedure, however, since patients are unable to drive for several weeks following surgery, they need to ask someone to pick them up from the hospital the next day.
To ensure the patient remains comfortable throughout his or her procedure, general anesthesia is administered. With general anesthesia the patient remains asleep until the procedure is over.
A Mini Tummy Tuck in Houston
Men who would like excess skin removed from beneath their navel and women who are interested in correcting the abdominal changes resulting from pregnancy are usually perfect candidates for this procedure.
The mini abdominoplasty:
This procedure takes about an hour to an hour and a half, however, if the patient is having multiple procedures, his or her time in the operating room increases.
- Dr. Patel or Dr. Truong makes an incision just above the pelvic bone.
- The skin is pulled downward.
- If a slight pooch is present, the surgeon can also tighten the abdominal muscle.
- The surgeon pulls the skin taut and then removes the excess.
A Full Abdominoplasty in Houston
Of the three abdominoplasty procedures available, the full tummy tuck is performed the most often.
During this surgery, Dr. Shitel Patel or Dr. Tuan Truong creates two incisions – one of these incisions is located on the lower section of the abdomen (i.e., from hip to hip) and the other is created around the navel. Although the scars resulting from this procedure can be hidden beneath clothing, they are more noticeable than those from a mini tummy tuck, however, with a full abdominoplasty the surgeon addresses the entire abdominal area.
A full abdominoplasty:
This plastic surgery procedure takes an hour or two, however, if additional procedures are being performed, the amount of time the patient is in the operating room increases.
- The surgeon creates an incision even with the top of the pelvic bone. This incision runs from hip to hip.
- Another incision is created around the navel, however, the connection between the abdominal wall and the umbilicus remains intact.
- The skin and fat are lifted off the abdominal muscles but the navel is not lifted with the skin and fat.
- In order to contour the patient’s waist, the surgeon may perform liposuction.
- Using permanent sutures, the surgeon can tighten the abdominal muscles, which gives the patient a more toned-looking midsection.
- The skin is pulled toward the patient’s feet until it is taut.
- Dr. Patel or Dr. Truong carefully removes the excess abdominal skin.
- The surgeon gently brings the navel forward through the circular incision and then sutures it in place.
An Extended Houston Tummy Tuck
Dr. Tuan Truong and Dr. Shitel Patel perform an extended abdominoplasty when a patient needs a significant amount of skin removed.
An extended abdominoplasty:
An extended abdominoplasty can last two or three hours. If multiple procedures are being performed, the length of time in the operating room increases.
- The surgeon creates an incision in the lower abdomen. This incision is even with the top of the patient’s pelvic bone. This incision extends along the lower abdomen and then around to the back of the hips. The extended-abdominoplasty incision needs to be longer than the one created during a full tummy tuck because the surgeon tightens the skin across the entire abdomen. If a shorter incision were used, uneven tightening of the abdominal skin may result.
- The surgeon creates an incision around the navel. The umbilicus remains attached to the muscle.
- The skin and fat are lifted off the abdominal muscle. The navel is not lifted with the rest of the abdominal skin.
- The abdominal muscle is brought together, tightened and secured using permanent sutures.
- Dr. Patel or Dr. Truong pulls the skin taut and removes the excess.
- The navel is moved to an aesthetically pleasing location and sutured in place.
During this procedure, Dr. Patel or Dr. Truong can remove excess fat in the flanks, lateral thighs and hips via liposuction.
Closing the Mini-, Full- and Extended-Tummy Tuck Incisions
To ensure everything is completely secure, Dr. Tuan Truong or Dr. Shitel Patel uses special sutures between the patient’s fat and abdominal wall. These sutures help reduce fluid buildup. In addition, they recreate the abdomen’s normal anatomic lines.
Drainage Tube Placement and Compression Garment Application
- The full and extended abdominoplasty as well as the panniculectomy procedure usually require drainage tubes to be placed. These tubes provide a way for excess fluid and blood to drain, which reduces inflammation, thus, decreasing the patient’s overall pain level.
- The surgeon secures these tubes with absorbable sutures.
- The sutures are then covered with medical tape and a skin adhesive.
- An abdominal binder (aka compression garment) is placed. This binder supports and protects the abdominal area as it heals.
The time frame for drainage tube removal is based on the amount of fluid draining from each site. Drainage tubes can remain in place from three to 15 days.
This procedure typically takes less than three hours total.
- Just as with a full tummy tuck, a horizontal incision is created from one hipbone to the other, however, there are times when the surgeon also creates a vertical incision that ends at the pelvic bone. Where the vertical incision begins in the abdominal area depends on the amount of skin that the surgeon is removing.
- Through these incisions, Dr. Patel or Dr. Truong removes the residual fat.
- The skin is pulled taut.
- The excess skin is removed.
- If necessary, the navel is removed or repositioned on the abdomen.
- The remaining skin and tissue are brought together and sutured.
- Drainage tubes and a compression garment are placed.
Hernia Repair During a Tummy Tuck or a Panniculectomy
To keep patients from needing additional surgery, Dr. Shitel Patel and Dr. Tuan Truong can repair hernias while performing abdominoplasty procedures and panniculectomies.
In the Recovery Room
While in the recovery room patients are monitored. Once the patient is fully awake, the surgeon either releases the patient to his or her driver, or have the patient taken to a hospital room.
Heading Home After a Houston Abdominoplasty
Before patients leave the recovery room they are briefed about their at-home recovery.
- How to care for and empty their drainage tubes.
- The proper way to clean their incisions.
- What to watch for in terms of an infection as well as issues related to their overall health.
- When they need to return for their follow up visit.
- Which physical activities they need to avoid and how long these activities need to be avoided.
- The best foods to eat.
- The patient can shower the day after surgery.
- The binder needs to be worn continuously (unless showering).
- The proper way to remove and replace their compression garment.
Recovering from a Panniculectomy or a Houston Tummy Tuck
Whether an individual has a mini-, full-, extended- abdominoplasty, or a panniculectomy, the patient should expect to have inflammation and pain in the abdominal region. This discomfort lasts for several days. In addition, bruising is common.
Patients should take two to four weeks off work, or school, however, a patient who has a physically demanding position (e.g., a construction worker, etc.) will most likely require additional recovery time (up to six weeks).
The patient’s posture will be slightly hunched over, which is normal. It is important that patients do not attempt to force their body into an upright position as this will put additional strain on the incisions as they heal. Adhering to this restriction is even more important when a patient has a tummy tuck with diastasis recti correction.
Patients need to keep their follow-up appointments. During these appointments the surgeon examines the incisions to ensure everything is moving along as planned.
Although the recovery time for a mini tummy tuck is typically shorter than the other abdominoplasty procedures, patients still need to avoid strenuous activity for six weeks.
While the drains are in place, a patient may need to take an antibiotic and an anticoagulant. The patient may also receive a topical cream to apply to the incisions.
Patients must take their pain medication as directed. Taking more than prescribed will cause the patient to run out ahead of time and not taking the medication in the intervals ordered can lead to the patient experiencing unnecessary pain. In addition, alcoholic beverages should be avoided while taking any type of pain medication.
Unless directed to do so by their physician, patients should not take any medication that contains aspirin.
After a tummy tuck or panniculectomy, patients should expect to wear their abdominal binder for approximately six weeks.
After two- or three-weeks patients can usually return to cooking, driving and shopping.
It could take up to two months for the patient to return to normal activity.
Although rest is an important aspect of the recovery process, patients also need to move around periodically throughout the day. Walking around helps improve blood flow, which prevents blood clot formation in the legs and helps the body as it heals.
Recovering from an Abdominoplasty with Diastasis Recti Correction: What Patients Can Expect
The abdominal muscles are responsible for stabilizing and assisting with the movement of an individual’s entire trunk, therefore, these muscles contract almost every time the body moves. Following diastasis recti correction, even the slightest movements can cause pain. Besides being painful, overexerting oneself too soon can negatively affect the results of the surgery.
While recovering from an abdominoplasty with diastasis recti correction, patients need to be more careful than those who have a tummy tuck without muscle repair.
Whereas the recovery for an abdominoplasty without diastasis recti repair typically only lasts a week or two, the recovery time with muscle repair can take from four to six weeks, possibly longer for patients who have physically demanding jobs.
Patients may experience inflammation in their abdominal area for several months following their tummy tuck or panniculectomy.
Patients frequently experience a pulling sensation in their abdomen, especially when attempting to stand up straight.
Numbness in the abdomen may be present for several months, however, while rare, sometimes this side effect is present for years.
Feeling itchy in the abdominal area as it heals is normal.
Early on the resulting scar may be raised up and red, these characteristics will eventually fade. In addition, there may be inflammation above the scar that is filled with fluid, this will also dissipate with time.
The abdominal skin may feel firmer than it did prior to surgery, this is expected.
Feeling full quicker than usual is a common side effect of diastasis recti repair. Tightening the abdominal muscles decreases the amount of room available within the abdominal cavity, therefore, the expansion ability of the stomach and the diaphragm is compromised; however, these issues usually resolve within four to six weeks.
Core strengthening exercises (e.g., sit-ups, etc.) must be avoided. These kinds of exercises cause stress on the abdomen, which could potentially damage the diastasis recti repair.
After an abdominoplasty with diastasis recti correction, patients are restricted from lifting anything heavier than 15 pounds for at least six weeks.
Results are long lasting and as the inflammation subsides the patient’s abdominal contours become evident. Nonetheless, it can take from four to six months for the final results to become visible.
An Initial Consultation for a Houston Tummy Tuck or a Panniculectomy at Lift Plastic Surgery
During this consultation, Dr. Patel or Dr. Truong wants to know what the patient would like to accomplish with an abdominoplasty or a panniculectomy. Patients should expect the surgeon to examine their abdomen as well as any areas they would like to have liposuction performed during their surgery (e.g., lower back, sides and thighs, etc.).
The surgeon also wants to know about:
- The patient’s medical history.
- Current medical conditions.
- Any medications, herbal supplements and vitamins the patient is currently taking.
- Allergies to medications or latex.
Dr. Shitel Patel or Dr. Tuan Truong will:
- Discuss recommendations.
- Go over the potential results.
- Answer any questions the patient has.
- If the patient wants to move forward with an abdominoplasty or panniculectomy, another appointment is scheduled.
Preparing for a Tummy Tuck in Houston
After the initial consultation the patient may need to have an EKG, blood work or some other procedure to ensure that he, or she is healthy enough to have a surgical procedure.
To make sure Lift Plastic Surgery receives the test results before the patient’s scheduled surgery, these tests must be completed at least a week in advance.
Patients will need someone to drive them around for a few weeks, including to and from their surgery.
Someone needs to stay with the patient for the first 48 hours after surgery. The individual chosen must be able to assist the patient with walking.
Patients must stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke for at least six weeks before and six weeks after their surgery. The nicotine in tobacco negatively affects the body’s ability to heal itself.
Quit taking aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications increase the likelihood of excessive bleeding.
Create a recovery area at home. This area should have everything the patient needs within an arm’s reach (e.g., remote controls, facial tissues, medications, water, home phone, mobile phone, healthy snacks, etc.).
Have loose clothing and oversized button-down tops to wear while recovering.
Cook healthy meals ahead of time that can be frozen and reheated throughout recovery.
A shower chair should be purchased and placed in the shower prior to surgery.
For a few days after a tummy tuck, patients need to sleep on an incline with their upper body raised slightly and their knees bent at a specific angle (this position can help decrease inflammation). In addition, to reduce the amount of pressure on the abdomen, patients can place pillows beneath their knees. Dr. Patel or Dr. Truong will discuss this sleeping position with the patient before he or she heads home or to a hospital room.
Feeling tired should be expected. This feeling could last quite some time (i.e., weeks or months). This is normal as the body heals.
Potential Complications and Risks Associated with a Tummy Tuck or a Panniculectomy
As with any procedure, possible complications and risks must be taken into consideration.
Some of the risks associated with an abdominoplasty or a panniculectomy include:
- Excessive bleeding.
- Blood clot formation.
- Anesthesia risks.
- Seroma development.
- Poor wound healing.
At Lift Plastic Surgery, experienced, double-board certified Plastic Surgeons Dr. Shitel Patel and Dr. Tuan Truong take every step possible to minimize the likelihood of their patients experiencing any type of complication before, during or after their procedure.
How Much Does a Houston Tummy Tuck Cost?
The cost of a Houston abdominoplasty depends on the needs of a patient, therefore, to determine the cost, an individual must schedule an initial consultation with one of the surgeons at Lift Plastic Surgery.
What About Insurance; Will They Pay for an Abdominoplasty?
Since a tummy tuck is considered a cosmetic surgery, insurance will not cover this procedure. However, patients who need a panniculectomy may be able to have their insurance cover a portion of the procedure. Dr. Patel and Dr. Truong recommend that individuals contact their insurance company to find out if this procedure is covered and, if it is, what the company needs from the patient and the patient’s physician to determine if the procedure will be covered (e.g., a letter of medical necessity, etc.).
If you reside in Houston or in an area nearby and you are thinking about having a tummy tuck or a panniculectomy, contact Lift Plastic Surgery today. As double-board certified Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Tuan Truong and Dr. Shitel Patel can determine which abdominoplasty procedure will provide you with optimal results. As dedicated, caring and compassionate plastic surgeons, Dr. Patel and Dr. Truong are always striving to provide each patient with a procedure that will increase his or her confidence level so that he, or she can look and feel their very best.
Questions? Book a Consultation Now.
Contact Houston and Webster, Texas Plastic Surgeons Shitel D. Patel, MD and Tuan A. Truong, MD, FACS, FAAP:
Serving patients in Houston Texas, Webster, League City, Pearland, Galveston, Kemah, Seabrook and all other surrounding Greater Houston, Texas communities and more.
Tummy Tuck FAQs
If I have a Tummy Tuck, can I still have a baby later on?
How much weight can I expect to lose from having a Tummy Tuck?
Will I be able to wear my bikini within a year of my Tummy Tuck?
Do I need to reach my weight loss goal before I have my Tummy Tuck?
Could I have a Tummy Tuck to address abdominal scarring from multiple surgeries?
How long after having a baby do I need to wait to have a Tummy Tuck?