A full tummy tuck, described in this animation, is a surgical procedure that involves removing excess fat and loose skin, and includes tightenting muscles in the abdominal wall. A partial, or mini tummy tuck involves removing excess fat and loose skin below the navel, and is described in a separate animation. Tummy tuck procedures can be performed alone, but are often performed with liposuction to further improve body contours. Individuals considering a tummy tuck should be healthy, relatively fit, and not planning future pregnancies, as this may restretch tightened muscles.
A full tummy tuck may be done under local anesthesia with sedation, where the abdominal area is numb and you are relaxed and comfortable. Alternatively, you may be completely asleep, under general anesthesia. The length of the procedure can vary, depending on the extent of tissue removal, and whether liposuction is also performed.
Your surgeon will make an incision just above the pubic area. The incision is typically made where it is hidden by bathing suits or undergarments, but it is important to realize that you will have a scar. A second incision is made around the navel to free it from surrounding tissue. The skin and fat layers above the abdominal wall are lifted upward to expose the abdominal muscles. Your surgeon will suture these muscles, pulling them closer together, which creates a flatter, firmer abdominal wall and a slimmer waistline. Once the muscles are tightened, the layer of skin and fat will be stretched back over the abdominal wall and a new hole will be created for your navel. Excess skin and fat that hang beyond the original incision are removed. Drainage tubes are usually placed in the abdomen through tiny holes below the incision, allowing fluids to escape as you heal. The incisions will be sutured and bandages will be applied.
Recovery and Results
You will most likely need to wear a compression garment to reduce swelling and provide comfort and support as you heal. Drainage tubes and sutures are usually removed within a week or two after the surgery. As with any major surgery, pain, bruising, and swelling are normal, and will typically subside within several weeks. Your scar will fade considerably over time and with proper diet and exercise, you can enjoy a firmer, flatter abdomen for years.