The Dark Side Of The Tummy Tuck

In order to understand why tummy tucks should be avoided, you must first really understand what a tummy tuck is and what the process entails.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

– A tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgery or procedure with the purpose of enhancing the shape and appearance of one’s abdomen. During this procedure, excess skin and fat are removed by cutting the skin in the lower abdomen area.  The skin is cut so that the remaining skin can be sewn back together in an attempt to tighten the abdomen and reduce skin redundancy. Essentially the excess skin and fat are being cut out of the patient, then the skin is brought back together. 

Risks and Complication

Section of skin and bone showing seroma under surgical incision.
  • Seroma: fluid accumulation beneath the skin.  When the surgeon aggressively clears tissue in the abdominal area, sometimes fluid collects and forms a pocket.  This is almost like a very large blister, in that, it’s simply a large collection of fluid beneath the skin.  It is usually painless, however it requires drainage and further treatment.  It could reoccur multiple times causing an ongoing issue.  

  • Hematoma:  accumulation and collection of blood.  When bleeding is not properly controlled during the surgery, the patient can continue to bleed.  As the blood collects, it forms a mass.  The patient will experience pressure and a firm/hard ball under the skin.  This requires drainage and further treatment.

  • Drains:  After the wound is closed, there is no way for the excess fluid to get out of the the abdominal area.  For this reason, a drain tube is placed under the skin in an attempt to reduce the residual fluid and avoid the formation of seromas and hematomas.  The tube is sewn into the skin and could potentially be torn out on accident. The drain is also an access point where bacteria could get inside and cause an infection.

  • Infection:  With such a large incision, there is an equally large risk of infection.  Despite antibiotics, wound healing and infection continue to be an issue with Tummy Tuck.

  • Scar issues:  When a large incision is made, there are many opportunities for wound and scar issues while healing.  It’s possible that the skin does not come together in a natural manner, leaving irregularities. Since skin is being cut away, it’s also possible that there is residual tension on the scar leading to a wider, stretched out scar that is not very attractive.

  • Opening of the incision (Wound Dehiscence): This is where the wound gets pulled open by normal movement.  The stitches or staples can be pulled out with excessive tension.  This could lead to larger scars, ongoing wound issues, infection, etc.  It will also require additional wound closure.

  • “Dog ear deformity:”  This is a common deformity following tummy tucks.  When the surgeon makes the incision to cut away the skin, it must be made perfectly so the skin comes back together in a natural and normal fashion.  Many times when the skin is closed, there is excessive skin towards the corners of the abdomen, which bulge out, looking like dog’s ears.  This can be repaired with additional procedures.

  • Large scars:  With all tummy tucks, large scars should be expected. The quality and size of the scar will vary widely from one surgeon to the next.  Having a scar is part of this procedure that is unavoidable. There are things you can do to improve the appearance of your scars, but no matter what, there will be a large scar on your lower abdomen for the rest of your life after your tummy tuck. In some cases, the belly button is relocated and will have a scarred appearance as well. You might be getting rid of a huge insecurity, but you are risking having an even worse one with the intense scarring. 

  • Challenging recovery:  Since this procedure is very traumatic to the body, the recovery can be very difficult.  If the skin is cut too tight, one may not be able to stand up straight without risking tearing the wound open.  This may mean more time off of work.  If the body doesn’t get adequate time to recover, complications are more common.

  • Not enough fat removed:  Typically when a tummy tuck is done, the primary goal of the surgeon is to get the wound to heal.  Liposuction will inherently degrade the micro blood supply to the local skin and subsequently the wound.  Therefore, most surgeons are very conservative with their fat removal and the results will be less than satisfactory.  For this reason, many individuals come for liposuction following a tummy tuck.

  • Stretch marks still present:  In many cases, the surgeon is unable to remove all of the skin with stretch marks.  Therefore, one may still have the stretch marks present following their procedure.

  • General Anesthesia:  When getting the tummy tuck, general anesthesia is required.  A medication called propofol is used which stops you from breathing and causes a break in consciousness so you will experience amnesia.  The patient will be hooked up to a ventilator with a breathing tube down their throat.  There are many serious complication. This can cause bruising to the airway and sometimes pneumonia. The risks of Propofol can include decrease in blood pressure, kidney failure, heart failure, hyperthermia, rhabdomyolysis, death, and many more.

  • Catheter required:  Since you’ll be unconscious and won’t be in control of your bladder, a catheter will be threaded in your urethra and up to your bladder.  Sometimes doing this is difficult for the staff so this process can cause bruising and soreness in the area.  It may also lead to urinary tract infections.

  • Brain fog:  Patients commonly complain about feeling like they are in a haze for weeks to months after being under general anesthesia.  One may be confused, nauseous, forgetful and have difficulty making decisions.

  • Limited motion:  In the case too much skin is removed, the patient may not be able to stand up straight.  This will inherently present significant stress on the wound and increase the chance of the wound opening up.  It also requires that the patient limit their activities.  Once the wound is able to heal, the problem still persists as the individual attempts to regain full motion.  This commonly stretches the scar resulting in a very wide, large scar.


Examples of tummy tuck scars:

Alternatives to Tummy Tuck

Weight loss and non surgical treatments can and should be tried prior to more invasive surgeries.  While most people see these options as the “natural way” they are also limited.  When losing weight, the skin tends to get looser and may become more of an issue. There are non surgical skin tightening options, such as radio frequency or laser treatments.  For mild cases of loose skin, these may make a difference that is satisfactory.  For others, they may not have the potential to cause the changes one is looking for, leaving them desiring more.

MyShape Lipo Alternative to Tummy Tuck

We have performed over 15,000 liposuction and fat transfer procedures.  In the process, we have figured out unique and specialized techniques which allow our patients to realize amazing results that rival the results of tummy tuck.

In fact, our patients are consistently able to completely eliminate the hanging belly with liposuction alone.  Despite what plastic surgeons would like you to believe, the skin ALWAYS retracts after liposuction.  How much will vary from one individual to the next.

We have been able to remove large volumes of fat in order to cause dramatic changes for our patients.  Our patients recognize the significant risks of the tummy tuck and wish to avoid them, while still getting amazing results.  

Upwards of 95% of our patients are able to avoid a tummy tuck.  In the event you feel like the skin is still too loose following your procedure, it is always possible to remove the excess skin.  It is much easier to do this once the fat has already been removed with liposuction.

We hope to save you from the struggles and complications of the tummy tuck. With liposuction, we can create the natural curves you desire, while flattening the belly and eliminating the hanging skin. 

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