Pregnancy, fluctuations in weight and age can all affect the shape and structure of the stomach region, resulting in a potentially undesirable abdominal profile. At the Zelken Institute, we specialize in abdominal correction procedures, bringing the possibility of a well-toned stomach within reach.
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Tummy tuck surgery, a colloquial term for abdominoplasty, is a great way of eliminating excess skin and fat that can’t seem to go away with diet and exercise alone. In many cases, it also repairs weakened or separated muscles in the abdomen. The tummy-tuck is very popular, both on its own and as part of a mommy makeover. There are various flavors, ranging from skin-only mini tummy-tucks, to traditional hip-to-hip procedures with repositioning of the belly buttoning and six-pack tightening. In some cases, BodyTite skin tightening, plus liposuction, and possibly plus mini tummy tuck, will generate an awesome result with relatively little downtime and small or no visible scars.
A tummy tuck isn’t right for everyone. Individuals who plan to lose a significant amount of weight and women considering future pregnancies should postpone a tummy tuck. In addition to maintaining a stable weight, it’s important that you’re generally healthy and do not have any medical conditions that would affect healing or increase risks associated with the surgery. Our team will also talk with you to make sure your goals are realistic and that you are committed to leading a healthy lifestyle once you recover from the procedure.
Prior to your tummy tuck surgery, you will have a consultation with Dr. Zelken and his team. This is a time for you to ask any questions you may have regarding the procedure. If you’re worried about how you’ll look or the operation itself, be sure to discuss those feelings with us. It’s totally normal to be a bit nervous before any procedure.
We will have questions for you pertaining to your health, desires and lifestyle, and it’s absolutely critical that you are forthcoming with your answers. Dr. Zelken will also ask that you stop smoking prior to any surgery, including a tummy tuck. We will also go over the risks associated with the surgery, such as numbness or other changes in skin sensation and unfavorable scarring. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the tummy tuck procedure and any risks or potential complications. We may also that you get a lab test or a medical evaluation, take certain medications or adjust your current medications, and avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, herbal supplements and other medications that may increase bleeding during surgery.
The decision to have any plastic surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of body lift surgery are acceptable. If you do decide to proceed with tummy tuck surgery, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from the procedure.
Medications, including either intravenous sedation or general anesthesia, are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. Based upon the scope of your procedure and your specific needs, Dr. Zelken will recommend the best choice for you.
The size and placement of the incisions will depend on the amount of excess skin being removed as well as Dr. Zelken’s judgement. A common approach involves making a horizontal incision between the pubic hairline and belly button before tightening the six-pack muscles. In order to remove extra skin in the upper abdomen, a second incision around the naval may be necessary. Any hernias that are found will be repaired. Full abdominoplasty also includes repositioning your belly button to a new “hole” that is created in your upper abdominal skin.
Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips may be used to close the skin incisions. Dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions after the procedure is complete, and small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood that may collect. You may also be wrapped in an elastic bandage or compression garment in order to limit swelling and support your abdomen while it heals.
Following your tummy tuck procedure, Dr. Zelken and his team will give you specific instructions regarding how to care for your surgical site, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing, how to care for your drains and specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or with your health in general. We will also schedule a time for you to follow up with Dr. Zelken in order to monitor your progress and go over any questions you may have.
Although a good outcome is expected from your tummy tuck surgery, it’s not possible for some patients to obtain optimal results with just one surgical procedure. In that event, another surgery may be necessary. You should also be aware that previous abdominal surgery can limit the success of a tummy tuck. Regardless, following our instructions is essential to the success of your surgery.
The results of your tummy tuck operation may not be immediately visible due to swelling and the fact that you can’t stand fully upright until internal healing is done. Within a week or two, you should be standing tall and proud with a new trim belly. Some visible scars will remain, but the overall results are long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness.
I am so pleased with my decision to have him do my procedure!!
– Ilene R.
If you’re considering a tummy tuck or have further questions about the procedure, don’t hesitate to contact us or schedule a consultation with Dr. Zelken. We’re located at 1617 Westcliff Drive in Newport Beach, CA, and we can be reached at (949) 432-4730. We serve patients from across the world — we have a Mandarin Chinese-speaking physician — as well as clients in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Beach, California.
To minimize pain, Dr. Zelken will provide a targeted nerve block using long-acting anesthetic at the end of the case. When you wake up, you may have little to no pain; this is expected to facilitate your recovery.
Regardless of approach, complications and dissatisfaction can occur. Women who have a barrel chest or wide rib cage and women with deposits of intra-abdominal fat may not achieve the same result as a patient with a slighter frame. Wound breakdown can occur, especially centrally along the incision and at the umbilicus where blood flow is least and tension is greatest. If this occurs we often allow the breakdown to heal from the inside out, and revise the residual scar if necessary. If drains clog or fall out early, or you are too active too soon, it is possible to develop a seroma or fluid collection between your abdominal muscles and skin. These may go away without surgery. Also, a dog-ear (standing cone deformity) may result at the corner of one or both incisions. This may occur whenever an oval or ellipse is closed as a straight line and is more likely with a bigger resection. Dr. Zelken will do everything he can to avoid these; if a dog-ear persists beyond 3 months, Dr. Zelken will gladly revise it the Zelken Institute Plastic Surgery procedure suite under local anesthesia.
Written by Dr. Jonathan Zelken
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