Abdominoplasty is performed via a large incision from one hip to the other just above the pubis. A second incision is made around the navel in order to be able to separate the surrounding tissue.
Next, the skin is separated upwards from the abdominal wall until reaching the ribs, exposing the abdominal muscles. These muscles are tightened and joined in the middle line, thereby providing a firm abdominal wall and a more slender waistline. The separated skin is stretched in the direction of the pubis and the surplus skin removed; the navel is placed in its new position. Finally, stitches are put in, a dressing applied and a temporary drain tube placed in order to eliminate excess fluids that might accumulate in the area operated on.
For the first few days the abdomen is usually slightly swollen and a certain amount of discomfort or pain can be noticed, although this is controlled with medication. Depending on the extent of the surgery the patient can return home after a few hours or can stay in the clinic for 2 or 3 days. The doctor will provide instructions for taking showers and for changing the dressing. The external stitches in the skin will be taken out after 5 to 7 days; the internal stitches after 2 or 3 weeks. The dressing will be replaced by an abdominal corset.
It can take between a few weeks and a few months to return to feeling like you did before. If you are in good physical shape prior to surgery, including strong abdominal musculature, recovery after abdominoplasty will be quicker. Some people return to work after about 2 weeks, while others need 3 or 4 weeks of rest and recuperation. Physical exercise helps earlier recovery. Even those people who didn’t usually engage in sporting activities prior to surgery must undertake an exercise programme in order to reduce swelling, lessen the likelihood of venous thrombus and tone the muscles. Nevertheless, heavy exercise must be avoided until the patient feels comfortable. It’s necessary to wait between 9 months and 1 year for the scars to flatten and lighten. Although the scars never completely disappear, they won’t be visible either, even when wearing a bikini or swimming costume.