Craig Mezrow MS, MD, FACS

What is Abdominoplasty?

Women and men who have loose, wrinkly belly (abdominal) skin and a stretched out belly wall can benefit from abdominoplasty, known as tummy tuck. These conditions typically result from significant weight loss or pregnancy. Abdominoplasty can tighten the belly wall, tighten muscles that have been separated and weakened and remove unwanted hanging, wrinkly excess abdominal skin yielding a flatter abdominal contour without hanging, loose belly skin.


Who is a candidate?

A candidate for abdominoplasty will typically have excess wrinkly or hanging abdominal skin in the possible presence of a weakened belly wall that protrudes.

Abdominoplasty should be performed after weight loss and when there are no plans for more planned pregnancies. If you become pregnant in the future, the pregnancy can potentially compromise the aesthetic results from the abdominoplasty.

Consulting with Dr. Mezrow:

During the consultation, Dr. Mezrow will ask you about your particular concerns regarding your abdomen. This will help determine your expectations and determine whether they can be realistically achieved.

After obtaining a comprehensive medical and surgical history, Dr. Mezrow will assess your abdomen for skin tone, degree of loose skin, presence of hernias and abdominal wall muscle tone. Dr. Mezrow may caution you or recommend you not have abdominoplasty because of prior abdominal scarring that can potentially cause skin loss and or healing problems.


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How is the procedure done/Where will I have Scars?

Typically, a horizontal incision is placed just above the pubic area that extends toward each hip. The length of the incision will be determined by the amount of skin to be removed. The design of the incision will vary by the style of bathing suit or underwear that you prefer in a manner to try to keep the incision within your bathing suit and underwear lines, but this may not always be possible.

In addition, there is typically an incision around the belly button (navel). Some patients may be a candidates for mini-abdominoplasty in which there is no incision around the belly button.

After making the incisions as previously described, the skin is elevated, the loose and or separated belly muscles are tightened with suture followed by removal of excess loose, wrinkly, hanging abdominal skin. A new opening is made for the naval and it is sutured in place, so its position remains relatively unchanged.

At the time of surgery, temporary drains are typically placed under the skin for removal of a serum like fluid (seroma) that may accumulate under the skin. It is occasionally necessary, to remove this serum by aspiration which is a painless process but may require several visits to the office.

Abdominoplasty may be performed on an outpatient basis or as a short hospital stay. If surgery is being performed as an outpatient, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you for at least the next day or two.


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What are the potential complications?

Fortunately, significant complications from abdominoplasty are infrequent, however, all surgery has risks. Dr. Mezrow will discuss with you, the risks, benefits and alternatives and answer all your questions.

Some potential complications include infection, bleeding, delayed healing (loss of tissue), fluid accumulation and bad scarring. A complication, which delays healing and prolongs recovery, is much more common in diabetic patients and those who smoke. Preoperative and postoperative instructions will be given to you by Dr. Mezrow in attempt to reduce the likelihood of complications and make you as comfortable as possible with the whole process. Smokers will be instructed to stop smoking 4-6 weeks prior to surgery and not resume smoking to reduce the risk of delayed healing, wounds, infections and compromised outcome. Aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications as well as agents that cause bleeding should be discontinued two weeks prior to surgery (or as otherwise instructed by Dr. Mezrow and your primary physician) to reduce the likelihood of bleeding.

What kind of medications will be given to me?

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. Typically, a general anesthetic is administered, so that you will be asleep throughout the procedure. When surgery is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. In many instances, small drains as previously described will have been placed under the skin to help avoid accumulation of serum like fluids (seroma). Gauze or other dressings may be applied to your abdomen followed by a binder.
You may be permitted to go home after recovery, unless you and Dr. Mezrow have determined that you will require a short stay in the hospital or post surgical facility.


What happens after the surgery?

You will be instructed to get out of bed for short walks to promote blood circulation and decrease the risk of blood clots. In bed you should be positioned with pillows behind your back and under your knees to decrease tension on the abdomen. When sitting you should have your legs elevated. You may not be able to stand up completely straight for the first several days because of the tightened belly wall. Straining, bending and lifting must be avoided, since these activities might cause compromised results including but not limited to, swelling or bleeding.

Surgical drains will be removed as soon as possible after surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed. You may be instructed to wear a binder for approximately 4-6 weeks. Generally, sutures will not be removed, as they are resorbable. You will be instructed on taping of incisions to optimize healing of the scars.

You will have swelling and bruising, which will resolve with time. It is common to have some numbness involving the belly skin that may persist for several months. The incisions will be initially be reddish and then slowly fade over months resulting in permanent scars. It is important to realize, however, that the incision lines will be permanent usually concealed by bathing suits and underwear.

When can I go back to work?

Depending on your physical condition, you may be able to return to non-strenuous work anywhere from one to three weeks after surgery. There is to be no heavy lifting for approximately 4-6 weeks. During healing you may experience some mild, periodic discomfort and swelling, such feelings are normal. Severe pain should be reported to Dr. Mezrow.


How long will it last?

Abdominoplasty will enhance your body contour by making your abdomen firmer and flatter by tightening the belly wall and by removing hanging wrinkly loose skin. It is not uncommon to feel more comfortable in your clothing and be more confident about your appearance.

Unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight or become pregnant, your abdomen should remain firmer and flatter for many years. However, the effects of aging and gravity continue. If, after a period of years, you again become dissatisfied with the appearance of your abdomen, you may choose to undergo a second procedure to rejuvenate your belly again. 

Healing from your surgery is a process that takes up to a year for final result. You will be instructed to return to Dr. Mezrow’s office for follow-up care at prescribed intervals to monitor your progress and optimize your outcome.

If you have any questions or concerns prior to surgery or during your recovery, you should contact Dr. Mezrow.