Tummy Tuck: A Procedure More Powerful Than Its Name Implies

Woman Happy with Her Drainless Tummy Tuck from Dr. Claytor in Bryn Mawr

“Nips and tucks” are supposed to just be little tweaks to your appearance—but there’s nothing little about a tummy tuck (the layman’s term for abdominoplasty). This procedure may have a cute name, but it plays a powerful role in body contouring, shaping an hourglass figure or sculpting a firm, trim abdomen. For those who undergo a tummy tuck, they experience a transformation that simply isn’t possible with diet and exercise.

There are several reasons people seek out a tummy tuck. Most patients have excess skin, fat, or stretched abdominal muscles in the wake of having children or losing a significant amount of weight. In these cases, a tummy tuck is often the only way to fully restore the abdomen. In today’s blog, we’re breaking down the reasons why.

Tummy tucks reshape abdominal musculature

When you look at before and after photos of patients who have undergone tummy tucks, the results can be so dramatic that they almost look improbable. How can removing excess skin create such a firm, natural-looking abdomen? The answer is that tummy tucks go deeper and do more than remove excess skin—the procedure actually repairs and tightens the underlying musculature to create a stronger abdomen. Tightening the musculature before treating the tissue layers above also allows your plastic surgeon to gently re-drape the skin so that your stomach looks smooth without being pulled tight, for a natural-looking result.

Understanding abdominal muscle separation, aka diastasis recti

You might think of a tummy tuck as being a purely aesthetic procedure, but many tummy tuck patients have a condition called diastasis recti, which is a separation between the two sides of the primary abdominal muscle, rectus abdominis. Diastasis recti can lead to uncomfortable side effects, including upset stomach, stress incontinence, back pain, or hernias. This weakening of the abdomen is particularly frustrating for those who are trying feel their best after significant weight loss or get stronger postpartum, as these symptoms are especially common after pregnancy.

If you have this condition, you’ll be able to see a visible “pooch,” or a round, protruding lower belly that is resistant to diet and exercise. While a mild separation may eventually repair itself, if your rectus abdominis muscle remains separated, a tummy tuck can be an effective, long-term treatment option. During surgery, we determine the degree of muscle separation present and repair it, suturing your abdominal musculature back together. After your body heals, any diastasis recti symptoms you are experiencing are likely to resolve.

Dr. Claytor Tummy Tuck Patient 27

This 37-year-old patient This patient underwent a drainless tummy tuck to improve her figure.

Tummy tucks contour your figure

Many patients come in asking for a tummy tuck to simply treat excess abdominal skin or fat, but the procedure can have a powerful overall impact on your shape. Plastic surgeons are artists who can use abdominoplasty and related procedures to give your whole torso an improved look. If you have an “apple” shape, have never had a “real” waist, or otherwise wish for your midsection to be more shapely, a tummy tuck can have a significant impact.

During the consultation process, we will carefully consider your overall body contour to make holistic procedure recommendations. While the tummy tuck itself is incredibly powerful, the effect can be boosted with additional contouring. For example, you may learn that adding liposuction to your tummy tuck procedure will help you achieve an hourglass shape (for women) or give you the coveted abdominal six-pack look (for men). Liposuction can also be used beyond the abdomen for harmonious, 360-degree body contouring in the flanks, thighs, or hips to achieve a proportional result. A tummy tuck is also often combined with other procedures in a full mommy makeover—a customized set of surgeries, such as breast surgery, tummy tuck, and liposuction—that restores your pre-pregnancy shape.

In sum, there’s nothing one-size-fits-all about the tummy tuck, which is a significant part of its power. However, this means you must be diligent in your choice of provider! Choose a board-certified plastic surgeon who understands your needs, meets the highest safety standards, and can show evidence of delivering dynamite surgical results for patients like you.

Dr. Brannon Claytor Tummy Tuck Patient 28

This patient, a 45-year-old mother of 2, wished to improve her abdomen. She underwent a drainless tummy tuck. After photos were taken 4 months post-op.

Tummy tucks can reshape your belly button

During a tummy tuck, we also give the belly button special attention. If your navel has never been a shape you love or has become misshapen over time, we will sculpt a more aesthetically pleasing belly button. Most patients desire an “innie” with a natural round or oval form—not stretched or overly elongated—which is slightly hooded at the top. We will also use refined surgical techniques to be sure your navel sits in a natural position on your body, with a shape and depth that will harmonize with your anatomy. We are also careful to hide the belly button incision within its natural folds so that you can feel confident putting on a bathing suit.

This may seem like a lot of attention to devote to a relatively small area of your abdomen, but your belly button’s appearance will be key to your final tummy tuck results. As such, it is one mark of quality to look for when comparing before and after tummy tuck results of various plastic surgeons.

Dr. Claytor Tummy Tuck Patient 7

This 46-year-old mother of 4 children decided to undergo a drainless tummy tuck to improve her figure. After photos were taken 10 months post-op.

The right tummy tuck technique shortens recovery time—and can eliminate the need for drains

By selecting a plastic surgeon with extensive abdominoplasty experience, you may also shorten your recovery. In Dr. Claytor’s advanced drainless tummy tuck technique, a thin layer of scarpa’s fascia (connective tissue) is left intact below the skin. This leaves room for the body’s natural lymph system to drain any fluid that accumulates in the surgical area, thereby also eliminating the need for an uncomfortable surgical drain.

As a highly respected aesthetic surgeon and educator, Dr. Claytor has taught this technique to peers in The Aesthetic Society (also known as The Aesthetic Society). Research has shown that the method supports a faster recovery and fewer complications, and Dr. Claytor is proud to share his knowledge, allowing more patients to benefit from the technique.

Dr. Claytor was asked to give a talk about drainless tummy tucks by the Society of French Esthetic Plastic Surgeons (SOFCEP) in 2014, as well by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery on several occasions from 2013 through 2016.

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Tummy tucks can restore confidence and jump-start a healthy lifestyle

Many people will caution you to adhere to a healthy diet and exercise routine in order to achieve a near-ideal weight before body contouring surgery. This advice is well-intended, and it is true that you need to be healthy before undergoing a major surgery like a tummy tuck. But it does not reflect the entire reality for our patients.

For many people, a tummy tuck is the intervention that helps to jump-start a renewed investment in their health. Surgery is both a commitment to and an investment in yourself that restores a baseline confidence level, which can be difficult to achieve through other means. A tummy tuck is sometimes not the end but very near the beginning of a journey toward a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Find a board certified plastic surgeon for your Philadelphia tummy tuck

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. R. Brannon Claytor serves the greater Philadelphia area offering tummy tuck surgery, as well as a full range of plastic surgery, injectables, and skin treatments. To learn more or schedule a consultation, contact us online or by phone at (610) 527-4833.

Posted in: Tummy Tuck

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