An Abdominal Lift, also called Tummy Tuck, Belly Lifting, or Abdominoplasty, is a surgical intervention to reduce excess skin or fat in the abdominal region as well as to improve the belly’s aesthetic appearance and its shape. If only a small amount of excess skin is present, fat deposits in the abdominal region can be shaped using liposuction.
The most common reasons for a tummy tuck in both men and women are surplus skin and fat tissue after losing weight extensively. Women often also decide for an abdominal lift after pregnancy, if their skin and subcutaneous tissue had been heavily stressed and overstretched during pregnancy. Another frequent indication is a rectus diastasis. In this case the distance between the two straight tummy muscles is too large, probably causing serious health consequences later if no therapeutic measures are taken.
The most common method used to shape the abdomen is the surgical abdominoplasty. Depending on which tools are used and on the dimension of the treatment basically three different methods exist. Due to the invasive nature of the procedure general anesthesia is required, which often means discomfort for the patient and entails risks.
During a Conventional Abdominal Lift the surgeon makes two bigger incisions down to the covering of the abdominal muscles at previously marked lines. Then the excess of skin is determined and removed symmetrically together with surplus fat tissue. The aftercare of a conventional abdominal lift is quite elaborate: To ensure an optimal flow of blood and tissue it is necessary to lay a drainage in the surgical area for 48 hours. During this time an inpatient stay is required.
The Endoscopic Abdominal Lift is a minimally-invasive type of the tummy tuck. It is particularly applied in cases of rectus diastasis, but can also be used in other indications. Both the risk of scar development and the occurrence of further complications are minimized by only making a single small incision.
The risk of complications is also decreased in the so-called Mini Abdominal Lift. This intervention can be advantageous if there is only little excess skin in the underbelly region. Wound surfaces and potential scars are smaller because smaller incisions are made than in other surgical techniques. Another big difference to the conventional abdominal lift is that the navel’s position won’t get changed. The aftercare is simpler in a mini abdominal lift compared to a conventional abdominal lift.
In all methods of surgical abdominal lifts the patient has to protect the belly area from UV radiation (sunbath, solarium) for 12 month, because otherwise this may lead to a dark coloration of scars. Furthermore, moderate physical activity like cycling or swimming should be restarted only after several weeks, fitness and weight training after about two months at the earliest.
Belly Shaping Using Liposuction
In case of fat deposits without the presence of large amounts of excess skin liposuction of the abdominal region could be performed as an alternative to abdominoplasty. Liposuction is a considerably more gentle procedure for belly shaping. The risk of the surgery as well as potential scar development is much lower than in an abdominal lift.
During liposuction surplus fat is harvested in manual work using either regular liposuction cannulas or microcannulas. The latter have a significantly smaller diameter than regular liposuction cannulas and thus allow for a particularly precise shaping of the body silhouette. By employing this elaborate technique the risk of the development of dents after the procedure is minimized. Tiny injection sites resulting from the liposuction normally heal without leaving scars that are visible for the naked eye.
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia (tumescent anesthesia). Thus the risks of general anesthesia are omitted and the patient is able to return to everyday life faster. The result of belly liposuction can be seen immediately afterwards. Depending on the extent of the fat deposits in some cases a repeat treatment may be necessary to achieve the desired reduction. Aftercare involves wearing compression garments or an abdominal belt for about one week.