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Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

A tight, youthful and well-toned abdomen can be difficult to maintain. Factors such as pregnancy, aging, significant weight fluctuations and genetics can contribute to a protruding abdomen with weak and widened abdominal muscles.  During a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), Dr. Dawes will remove excess abdominal fat and skin, and can re-approximate separated abdominal muscles – resulting in a smoother and firmer abdominal profile.

A tummy tuck slims the contours of this area that have become saggy and loose due to pregnancy or the gain and subsequent loss of a good deal of weight. Tummy tuck surgery with Dr. Dawes gives our Calgary patients back the slimmer, flat, firmer abdomen they had in their younger days.

Is a Tummy Tuck Right for Me?

The changes made with this procedure cannot be achieved with dietary changes and exercise. No matter how many crunches you do, you cannot bring separated stomach muscles back to the center. Nor is there any way you can tighten stomach skin that has lost its elasticity. Tummy tucks remove the excess, stretched skin, bring the muscles back to the center, and remove fatty deposits as necessary, giving you the flat stomach you’ve longed for. 

Good candidates for a tummy tuck are individuals who:

  • Are concerned by a protruding abdomen or sagging abdominal skin
  • Are healthy and maintain a stable weight
  • Are not planning on future pregnancies
  • Have realistic expectations for surgical improvement

A tummy tuck is not a suitable method for weight loss. Women planning future pregnancies or individuals wanting to lose a significant amount of weight may be advised to postpone their surgery.

How a Tummy Tuck Procedure is Performed

Typically, the incision extends from hip to hip, along the ‘bikini line.’ The abdominal skin and fat are then separated from your abdominal musculature up to the level of the ribs. The abdominal muscles are then tightened and the excess skin is re-draped, removing the excess or redundant tissue. In most cases, the belly button (umbilicus) will be repositioned to a more anatomically normal position.

Recovery Expectations

Recovery can take from two to six weeks. During this time, you will be required to wear an abdominal binder; initially, you will not be able to stand fully upright until internal healing progresses. Although results are considered permanent, significant weight fluctuations can diminish long-term results. You can expect moderate discomfort and tightness in your abdominal area, which should gradually improve over about one week. If your job keeps you sedentary, you may plan on returning to work in 10-14 days, with the understanding that you ay still have discomfort with motion. Swelling usually subsides after three weeks, but can occasionally persist longer.

Tummy Tuck FAQs

What results can a tummy tuck achieve?

Pregnancy is the primary culprit behind the need for a tummy tuck. The localized weight gain of pregnancy is unique in that it stretches the skin and support muscles of the abdomen to such a degree they cannot return to their former level of tautness. You can equate it to a rubber band that has been stretched around a large object for a period of time. When you remove the rubber band it no longer shrinks down to its prior size, instead of remaining stretched. This is what happens with your abdominal skin and muscle.

Dr. Dawes makes the incision just above your pubic area, so it can be hidden beneath underwear or a bikini bottom. He also makes another incision around the navel to detach it from the underlying muscle. He then lifts the skin off of the abdominal muscles and he brings the separated muscles back to the center of the stomach and stitches them down into place. This immediately slims the waist and returns strength to your stomach muscles. He then uses liposuction to remove pockets of fat. Fat in this area is almost impossible to remove with diet or exercise; it is one of the human body’s fat storage areas. But this procedure can remove it. Finally, he trims away the excess stretched, sagging skin. The end result? A flat, firm abdomen and a narrower waistline.

What are the risks involved?
Abdominoplasty is major surgery, and the procedure involves the same risks as with most any surgery: reaction to anesthesia, poor healing, continued bleeding, and danger of infection. The procedure with Dr. Dawes involves very low rates of complication or risk. However, it’s important to remember there will be a major scar involved. Over time, the scar will fade. There can also be some changes in skin sensation affecting the sensory nerves in the abdominal area. This usually resolves in the months after your procedure.
Are there alternatives to a tummy tuck?
There aren’t any other options for tightening contours of your abdomen to the degree achieved with abdominoplasty. While treatments such as CoolSculpting or liposuction can remove fat, they cannot re-position separated stomach muscles and they cannot trim away excess loose skin. In fact, if you remove more fat under your loose, sagging skin you will simply have more hanging skin.
What sort of scarring will I have afterward?
These procedures create a lengthy incision scar that stretches from hipbone to hipbone. Dr. Dawes makes the incision descend down toward the pubic area so it can be effectively hidden but you will have a scar. This fades over time, particularly if you’re very attentive to not stressing your incision during your recovery. The second incision around the navel is usually not visible.
There are a couple of things you can do for the actual incision scars. Once the incision has fully closed and is no longer covered with any scabs, you can apply topical treatments. The best options include silicone. Silicone can help the skin in the area hydrate normally, and it can help to preclude the body from sending excess collagen to the scars.
Keep your skin well moisturized, but only after your incisions have fully closed. Doing so early can prevent incisions from closing properly and increase your risk of infection.
Keep the sun off your scars. UV exposure makes scars darker and thicker. It’s best to cover them with clothing to really protect them.
How soon can I return to normal activity?
Because of the large incision involved with a tummy tuck, patients need to be patient with their recovery. It’s important not to strain the incision by applying pressure to the abdomen. You’ll be able to walk after your surgery (it’s important to get the healing process started), but this is only for short lengths and you’ll be bent over a bit. In a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to get back to work if you have a desk job, and you’ll be able to walk normally by then. Most patients can return to driving in two weeks or so. Dr. Dawes will discuss your individual goals for returning to normal activities and exercise. Don’t expect to return to strenuous exercise or any lifting for at least six weeks, however.
Will a tummy tuck help me lose weight?

This is not a weight-loss procedure. In fact, Dr. Dawes requires his patients to usually be within 10 percent of their ideal body weight before considering a tummy tuck. This is not to be confused with weight-loss procedures such as gastro bypass surgery.

Why is it important to be at a stable, healthy weight? If you still need to lose additional weight, you will simply create more sagging skin that would have been removed by this surgery. That’s why you need to be at a healthy weight, and you should also resolve to stay there to maintain your results for the long term.


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“My role, in part, is to assist patients through the process of determining which surgical or non-surgical options would help them meet their aesthetic goals and realistic expectations”

Jeffrey C. Dawes MD, FRSC

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