Abdominoplasty is a procedure that removes excessive skin and fat from the middle and lower part of the abdomen to improve abdominal contour. The skin and fat layers are separated from the muscles of the abdomen and any weakness of the abdominal muscles is repaired and/or tightened. The umbilicus (belly button) is repositioned and the skin pulled tight. The extra skin and fat are removed with an incision that typically runs hip-to-hip, sitting low in the bikini line.
Patients wear a post-operative Velcro binder to support abdominal muscles, minimize fluid accumulation and secure the dressings in place. This binder is usually worn for 7 – 14 days after surgery. Small drainage tubes are placed in the lower abdominal/pubic area during surgery. These drains will need to be emptied and their output recorded until they are removed. Once output from the drains is at a minimum (30cc/24 hours) they may be removed. Patients may transition in to a lighter, more comfortable abdominal garment once the drains are out. This garment is worn for 4 – 5 weeks.
Abdominoplasty surgery requires a constant level of homecare support and patients will need to be sure to have this organized and in place prior to booking their surgery. A care giver will need to help with positioning, mobility, hygiene, dressings, drains and meals. This 24/7 care is required for at least 3 – 5 days post-op.
During the first week after surgery patients are asked to position themselves to take tension off of the incision. They are advised to rest in bed with their shoulders elevated on pillows and to also place pillows under their knees. When upright they should try not to stand up tall, but rather walk a little hunched over.
Activities, positioning, dressings, drains and incision care will be reviewed by Dr. Smith’s homecare nurse. She will visit our patients after surgery in their home/hotel room to help them get settled and care for themselves once home. Patients are usually up and about in the first week post-operatively, and activity increases as tolerated. A full return to all activities can be anticipated by 4 – 6 weeks.
Our office nursing staff will see patients in follow-up as required. Most abdominoplasty patients are assessed in office 2 – 4 times to check incisions, remove drains and organize garments.
Though rare, post operative complications from any surgical procedure are possible. These may include infection, blood clots (DVT), pulmonary embolism, hematoma, seroma or delayed healing. Our health care team follows patients closely to recognize and treat any complications should they arise.
Dr. Smith will see patients 4 – 6 months after their surgery to assess their surgical result. Post-operative pictures are usually taken at this visit.