Abdominoplasty: Can It Create More Problems?

Plastic surgeons present abdominoplasty as a promising solution to a cosmetic problem. That problem has resulted from a stretching of skin cells in one area of the body. Of course, underneath that excess, that region of stretched skin, lays a good deal of stored fat. Abdominoplasty, also known as a “tummy tuck,” has become the standard way to remove such skin and fat. As a standard surgical procedure, a “tummy tuck” can lead to a number of post-surgical problems.

The procedure known as abdominoplasty creates a scar. Now scarring takes place following most surgical procedures. For the plastic surgeon, however, a scar on a “tucked-in” tummy can be a real problem. The patient who has managed to rid his or her abdomen of unwanted skin and fat could well want to show-off that lovely new abdomen.

A thoughtful surgeon makes clear to the patient the need for use of a knife in a certain area of the abdomen. A thoughtful surgeon also takes pains to limit the extent of any post-surgical scarring.  A wise surgeon might want to mention to the patient the possible restrictions on his or her future clothing choices. After an abdominoplasty, a patient normally wants to keep the resulting scar covered.

While abdominal scarring represents the greatest potential problem resulting from abdominoplasty, the plastic surgeon cannot honestly say that it is the only problem. For certain groups of individuals, the surgical removal of abdominal skin and fat can produce other unexpected damage. For those individuals, the problem-solving tummy tuck can manage to create more problems.

Some of those added problems can be avoided with the proper precautions. A surgeon should, for example, remind patients that healing from any surgery does not take place “overnight.” Post surgical healing proceeds even more slowly, if the patient lacks needed nourishment. For that reason, any person who plans to lose weight in the near future should postpone his or her abdominoplasty.

In addition to the prospective dieter, the plastic surgeon’s advice on postponement of a tummy tuck would target a particular group of women. A wise surgeon would warn any woman who planned a future pregnancy to put off plans for an abdominoplasty. After a tummy tuck, a patient has less stretchable skin. Yet a pregnant woman expects her abdominal skin to stretch.

Patients with an abdominal scar from an earlier surgery would likewise want to think twice about the loss of skin that results from an abdominoplasty. Such a patient might already have some reluctance to undergo abdominoplasty. Such a patient usually understands the risks that accompany any surgical procedure.

Any type of surgery introduces the risk of infection and blood clots. Those risks can be reduced by adherence to the surgeon’s recommendations. During the interval before abdominoplasty, a patient should avoid exposing his or her abdominal skin to direct sunlight. In addition, a patient who has become addicted to nicotine should be advised to seek an alternate source of pleasure during the interval leading up to an abdominoplasty.

by Sue Chehrenegar

Sue has an MS in Biomedical research along with 30 years of experience in her field of study.