How to prepare:
It is important that you are not taking any medications that thin the blood prior to your surgery. You will be provided with a list of medications and the time period in which they need to be stopped before having your surgery. If you are a smoker, you must not smoke for 4 weeks prior to surgery and for 8 weeks after. You should wear loose fitting clothing on your day of surgery. Arrange for a friend or family member to escort you home from surgery and to remain with you for 24 hours following your surgery.
What will happen during an abdominoplasty:
Once in the operating room, you will receive anesthesia to keep you asleep during your surgery. Once your abdomen is cleaned with a special solution, the surgeon will make the incision across your abdomen and begin removing the extra skin that is present. A second incision will be made around the belly button in order to reposition it at its new location. If you are also having plication, or tightening of your abdominal muscles, this will be performed once your abdominal skin is raised. After the skin is removed, the surgeon will place multiple layers of stitches in your skin to close the incision and also place drains that will remove any extra fluid that accumulates in the area the days after surgery. The type of stitches that are used will not be visible to you and will dissolve over several months. At the completion of your surgery you will be placed in a special garment, called an abdominal binder, which will provide extra support to your abdominal muscles and skin after surgery.
What are the risks:
- Bleeding and infection are risks of having an abdominoplasty. You will be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection and drains will be placed to remove blood or other fluid that collects in the days after surgery. If the amount of bleeding is too great, or if the drains are not functioning properly, sometimes a patient must return to the operating room to remove this extra fluid.
- Each individual has different ways of scarring. It is possible that you can have thickened, painful, or keloid scars after your surgery.
- An additional risk is delayed wound healing, or necrosis (death of the skin) of a portion of the abdominal skin or belly button. If this occurs, doing wound care to the area for several weeks may be required.
- Some patients will experience numbness throughout their abdomen after surgery. This usually improves with time, but some will have long-standing numbness, especially in the central part of the lower abdomen.
- Minor asymmetry of the abdomen may also occur after surgery
What to expect after surgery:
You will need to take antibiotics to prevent infection and will also be given pain medication to take if needed. It is important that you sleep on your back with several pillows under your back and knees to keep you in a flexed position at all times. Some patients are more comfortable sleeping in a reclining chair. You will also need to empty your drains at least two times per day and record their output. You will be instructed on how to do this prior to going home after your surgery. Your drains will be removed at your post- operative visit approximately 1 week after your surgery. You will need to sponge bathe until they are removed. Wear the abdominal binder at all times for the first 2 weeks. You will need to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 2-4 weeks. You must avoid abdominal exercises for 6 weeks. It is important that you avoid sun exposure to your incisions for an entire year. Sunlight will darken the scars and make them more noticeable.
Call your surgeon if:
- You experience a lot of oozing through the incision which stains your dressings or the binder
- You have a fever over 101 deg F
- You feel one portion of your abdomen in become noticeable more swollen then the other portions
- You have sudden, severe pain in your abdomen
- You have pain or swelling of your lower legs
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have trouble breathing
- You notice an area of your abdomen is rapidly increasing in size or causing severe pain
- You have dizziness that lasts several minutes and does not improve with sitting and relaxing, or you lose consciousness