The following is information regarding abdominoplasty, which is important to review, understand and discuss
with family and/or friends before choosing to proceed with this surgery.
GOALS OF ABDOMINOPLASTY: The goal of abdominoplasty is to improve one’s body contour specifically by
reducing abdominal bulging. Excessive skin and fat from the lower abdomen are removed and the underlying
muscles are approximated and tightened. There should be an improvement in appearance both in and out of
clothing, although in any given patient, these goals may be only partially met.
LIMITATIONS TO THE PROCEDURE: Generalized obesity cannot be improved by this procedure even though
the abdominal contour itself may be improved by surgery. If there are significant amounts of fat underneath
the skin, removing the lower abdominal fat and excessive skin will improve, but not necessarily flatten the
abdominal outline. Muscle strength will not be improved, but the resting tone of the abdominal wall may be
improved. If there are extensive stretch marks present, particularly above the umbilicus ( belly button), stretch
marks will remain following surgery. The results of the surgery are not necessarily permanent-subsequent
alterations of the body contour may occur as a result of aging, weight gain/loss, and pregnancy.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE PROCEDURE: If no surgical treatment is undertaken, there is usually a persistent
abdominal contour somewhat. However, lax skin such as that resulting from pregnancy or excessive weight
will not be improved through exercise alone. In some patients, liposuction alone may be used to remove
excess abdominal wall fat. However, the underlying muscle and overlying skin may be a problem with
patients who have a wide muscle separation or unusually loose skin.
SURGICAL TECHNIQUES/ANESTHESIA/RECOVERY: Abdominoplasty is a major surgical operation, which is
usually performed under general anesthetic requiring at least a one-night stay in the hospital or ambulatory
surgical center. A long incision is made above the pubic area, which generally extends from one hipbone to the
other. Excessive skin and fat from the level of the belly button to this incision are removed. The upper
abdominal skin is lifted and brought down to the level of the pubic area. A small incision is made for the belly
button to be repositioned (the belly button is not severed during this surgery). Therefore, sutures will be
placed around the belly button and in the long incision above the pubic area. Scars will necessarily result from
this procedure more than many other surgical incisions. However, the scar is well positioned in an area to be
hidden with most styles of bathing suits or underwear.
The surgery itself takes several hours with a moderate amount of blood loss. Blood transfusion is usually not
required, and we do not require blood to be available for the surgery. However, if you wish to donate your
own blood or have a designated donor provide blood, our office can help you arrange this preoperatively.
Following surgery, drains are placed which exit through the corners of the incision. In some instances, you will
be discharged with these drains in place and given instructions to empty them at regular intervals. An
abdominal binder or compression garment is required for several weeks following surgery to help prevent
swelling and assist healing. Lifting and carrying objects greater than 10 pounds is discouraged. Vigorous
physical exercise, particularly sit-ups and truncal rotation exercises are also prohibited for 6 weeks following
surgery. Immediately following surgery, it is recommended that the patient sleeps with the head of the bed
elevated with support under the knees. Likewise, for the first week following surgery, walking should be
performed slightly bent at the waist.
RISK/COMPLICATIONS: The most common complication following this surgery is a collection of blood or fluid
underneath the abdominal flap. If this is a large amount of fluid it may be necessary to evacuate the fluid by
needle aspiration or in rare cases by reopening the incision in the operating room.
As noted previously, the incisions may lead to adverse scarring which might improve over time but will remain
permanent. Some asymmetry or unevenness of the abdominal skin can be expected, particularly in the lower
abdominal area. There may be numbness, particularly below the belly button, which may be permanent.
There may be lumps or irregularities in the underlying fatty tissue, which may improve, but in some instances
may be permanent. There may be temporary discoloration in the operated areas. Wound infections are rare,
but can lead to the separation of the wound requiring special dressings, antibiotic preparations, or in rare instances
secondary surgical procedures. In very rare instances phlebitis or venous thrombosis may occur in the legs or
other veins. In extremely rare instances a blood clot may “travel to the lungs” (pulmonary embolus). Finally, there
may be an alteration in the position or appearance of the umbilicus.
Even though the risk and complications cited above occur infrequently they are the ones that are peculiar to
the operation or of greatest concern. Other complications and risks can occur but are even more uncommon.
Any and all of the risks and complications can result in: Additional surgery, time off work, hospitalization, and
expense to you.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there can be
NO guarantee nor warranty expressed or implied by anyone as to the results that may be obtained. Many
factors beyond the control of the surgeon affect both short and long-term outcomes, including but not limited
to each patient’s individual tendencies toward scarring, skin quality, genetic makeup, and other health factors.
On occasion, secondary surgeries may be indicated or desired to obtain the optimal result. If such procedures
are performed, there may be additional charges incurred by you.
COMMENTS: If a smoker you must be off cigarettes for three weeks before surgery and for three weeks after
surgery. There is a much great risk for scarring, poor healing, hair loss, and skin loss in smokers.
Must be off all aspirin-containing products for three weeks before surgery and for three weeks after surgery. (Check
all medications with us. Some medications such as Motrin and Advil may also affect clotting). You must stop all herbal
medications 2 weeks prior to surgery.
If there is any item that you do not understand, please call the office. An explanation or additional information will be provided.