Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) in Fort Worth
Abdominoplasty, often called a "tummy tuck," is a popular procedure that shapes and tightens the abdomen. Loose skin and excess fat are removed and muscles that have been stretched through pregnancy and weight changes are often pulled together, creating exciting new shapes and contours. Dr. Kunkel calls tummy tuck surgery "the return of the belly button" because many of the patients who have not been able to see their umbilicus for years absolutely love the "new" belly button that results. Tighter, flatter abdomens, new belly buttons, beautiful new shapes and contours...these are operations that can produce "Wow!" types of results. Tummy tucks help provide a fabulous look in a bathing suit during those hot Fort Worth/North Texas summers. That loose, sometimes bulging skin and fat no longer hang over the jeans and shorts..."Wow"!
Candidates for a Tummy Tuck
While often thought of as an operation for younger patients, Dr. Kunkel has performed abdominoplasty on patients ranging from age 22 to 64. As long as the person's health is good, age by itself should not deter someone from looking fantastic! Most patients are from the Fort Worth and North Texas area, but Dr. Kunkel has also performed tummy tucks on women from states as far away as Colorado and Illinois.
The best candidates for tummy tuck surgery are in good physical condition and have loose skin in the lower or central abdomen. They may have some 'pooches' of fat in the lower abdomen or flanks or have the appearance of having "a lap in my lap" when they sit down.
Pregnancy can create some pretty dramatic changes of an abdomen...wrinkles, stretch marks, loosening of the muscles with accompanying central bulges. Whether a woman has had one child or she is a mother of multiples (twins, triplets, quadruplets!), tummy tuck surgery can help guide her back to that flatter and tighter abdomen of years ago.
Another group of people who may achieve stunning results with tummy tuck surgery are those who have lost a lot of weight. Tummy tucks can help complete a transformation and provide a wonderful increase in self-confidence for weight loss patients.
An abdominoplasty consultation in Dr. Kunkel's Fort Worth office usually takes about 2 hours. The Vectra 3-dimensional photography system is used as part of the consultation. Photographs are taken of the person's abdomen and back. The Vectra software reconstructs those photographs into three-dimensional images, allowing the person to see herself/himself from angles that are next to impossible to see in a mirror. This 3-d system is a very powerful educational tool and helps ensure that the patient and Dr. Kunkel are seeing and talking about the areas of the body that are most important to the patient. Dr. Kunkel and staff listen to the patient, learning what she hopes to achieve, and then customize a treatment plan. The patient is involved in every step of the process. A tummy tuck consultation is not a quick "in-and-out" visit with the doctor. The patient has substantial interaction directly with Dr. Kunkel. Using this approach Dr. Kunkel believes the patients understand their own physical findings and the options available better than with a quick 5 or 10 minute visit. The patient is also given a booklet to take home, written by Dr. Kunkel, containing essential information to know about how to prepare in the days leading up to the abdominoplasty surgery, what to expect after the procedure, and photographs of actual patients.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
Dr. Kunkel performs tummy tuck surgery with the patient under general anesthesia in a hospital or surgery center in Fort Worth, usually completing the procedure in about three hours. Patients often spend the night in the facility but this is not mandatory and is carefully discussed during the consultation.
There are a few variations to abdominoplasty surgery. With the most common procedure, an incision is made beginning within the pubic hairline, extending toward the hip on each side. The loose skin and fat are then separated from the underlying muscles. The rectus muscles ("six pack" muscles) are then frequently pulled together, creating what some people have described as an "internal girdle". The loose skin is removed next. The umbilicus (belly button) remains physically attached to the underlying tissues in its normal position. When the loose skin is pulled tight and removed, a new hole must be made for the belly button. The belly button is pulled through the new hole and sutured into place at the level where it had always been, but now it has a new appearance! The tummy tuck incisions are closed with dissolving sutures and dressings are applied.
Abdominoplasty Combined with Other Operations
Many women who undergo abdominoplasty surgery also decide to have other procedures done at the same time. A "mommy makeover", for instance, is a combination of a tummy tuck and surgery on the breasts. Some women want to have larger breasts, some may want smaller breasts, and some want to have a more lifted appearance. This can all be done at the same operation as a tummy tuck. Additionally, some women who require a hysterectomy or a bladder suspension procedure decide they want to have a tummy tuck at the same time. Dr. Kunkel works with many gynecologists and urologists in Fort Worth on these types of cases. Typically the gynecologist or urologist performs that part of the procedure first, then Dr. Kunkel performs the abdominoplasty.
Recovery after Tummy Tuck Surgery
Most of Dr. Kunkel's tummy tuck patients spend the night in the surgical facility (usually a hospital in either the downtown Fort Worth Medical District or in the Southwest part of town), but some go home that day. Why spend the night? Primarily as a safety issue. One of the most important things a person should do after a tummy tuck is get out of bed and move around. Some patients have a great helper at home who will help/make them get out of bed. However, often times the 'helper' puts the patient (who may be a bit nauseated, sore, tired, and 'cranky') to bed and goes out to manage the kids or watch the Rangers or Mavericks game on TV. They'll check in on the patient from time to time but may not be reliable in helping them get up and get moving. Also, by staying in the facility overnight the patient may receive intravenous medication to help relieve any discomfort and nausea they may have as a result of the abdominoplasty surgery. This makes them more likely to actually want to get up and get moving. One of the risks of tummy tuck surgery is blood clots in the legs. For patients who stay overnight in the facility, massaging devices (called sequential compression devices) are placed on their legs and left in place until the next morning. This helps minimize the risk of blood clots forming. Some women also appreciate having one night away from young children who otherwise might be overly curious about why mom won't come out a pay attention to them. It is not mandatory that an abdominoplasty patient spend the night in the facility, but these are some of the reasons many people do.
Rather than having a lot of pain, Dr. Kunkel's patients more commonly talk about feeling tired and "drained" for about five days after tummy tuck surgery. Their tissues are usually pulled so tight that they actually walk in a "bent-over" position during those first several days. Beginning about 5 days after surgery some energy returns and they begin to walk more upright. Most patients take two to three weeks off from work after a tummy tuck operation. Women with young children will need to make arrangements for someone else to be driving their kids to school and other activities for the first week after abdominoplasty surgery. Compression garments are worn, often for two months or more. Strenuous activities like running, bicycling, working out, and swimming should be avoided for about six weeks. All of this is discussed during the visit with Dr. Kunkel, and the booklet you receive makes it easy to remember.
Tummy Tuck Results
A tummy tuck creates a flatter, tighter abdomen, and lower abdominal stretch marks are removed. Self-confidence often soars after a tummy tuck and most patients find they look better in bathing suits and other clothing than they have in years! When combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, the results of tummy tuck surgery are likely to provide years of happiness with the shape and look of the abdomen.
Risks of a Tummy Tuck
Every surgical procedure includes some risks. All operations, from hernia repairs to cesarean sections to heart surgery to tummy tucks, include risks of infection, bleeding, blood clots, and poor healing. Issues that are more unique to tummy tuck surgery include the possibility that the belly button could end up slightly higher or lower than it had been before surgery and it may have a different shape, the scar on one side of the abdomen could be longer or higher than the scar on the other side of the abdomen, and it is possible to have long-term numbness in the lower abdomen or even the upper thigh.
Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck procedure may work best for a woman who has just a little loose skin in the central lower abdomen and moderate fatty fullness. With a mini tummy tuck, a short incision is made, typically confining the length of the incision to about the width of the pubic hair. Liposuction is commonly performed to reduce the fatty fullness and improve the contour. Excess skin is removed from the lower central abdomen. The muscles may be tightened, depending on the woman's findings and desires. An incision around the belly button is generally not required. A mini tummy tuck operation takes about two hours to do and women usually go home after spending about an hour in the recovery room. Since the incision is shorter and the tissues are not pulled quite as tight as with a more standard abdominoplasty, women who undergo a mini tummy tuck usually have less discomfort and walk upright more quickly than after a regular tummy tuck. The results of mini tummy tuck surgery may be quite nice, but not everyone is a candidate for this type of surgery. After listening to your thoughts and evaluating your physical findings during the consultation, Dr. Kunkel will discuss the different types of tummy tuck procedures and why one type or another may help you achieve your optimal result.
If you would like more information about Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) in Fort Worth or to schedule an appointment, feel free to fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at (817) 335-5200.