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Tummy Tuck - risks and safety

slim belly with tape measureAbdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure removing excess skin and fat from lower and middle abdomen to make it thinner and more toned. Usually, it is performed after major weight loss or pregnancy. A new study published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery states that people undergoing tummy tuck combined with another plastic surgery procedure are in the group of higher risk to suffer major post-surgical complications than those who decide to have tummy tuck alone. Scientist discovered that post-surgical complications occurred among 3.1% of patients who had an only tummy tuck, in stark contrast to 6.8% of patients who combined a tummy tuck with a body-contouring procedure and 10.4% among those who had a tummy tuck, body-contouring procedure, and liposuction.

Sounds scary and one may ask – should I have abdominoplasty done? As with all surgical procedures, the more invasive surgery, the bigger complications might be and the risks have to be always considered carefully. However, as long as your surgeon qualifies you as a good candidate, it is simply a matter of common sense to take proper care of yourselves during convalescence to ensure that there are no complications after a tummy tuck.

What are the most common side effects of tummy tuck

Patients who had the tummy tuck done will experience the usual side effects, which may linger from few weeks to few months. The most common are soreness, swelling, bruising and numbness of the wound and there is a high chance you will require painkillers to alleviate the symptoms for the first few days. To heal properly patients should avoid any strenuous activity for six weeks, as your body will be getting tired easily. According to doctors from the Cleveland Clinic on top of physical fatigue, one may feel under the weather, easily irritated and not like their usual self.

Prolonged healing and scarring

One of the downsides of a tummy tuck is a prominent scar it leaves. If healed properly, it will of course fade in color and flatten over time and start to resemble the surrounding tissue; this may take from nine months to a year after surgery. Topical creams recommended by your surgeon and overall good care of the wound will ensure that the scarring will not be significant. There is, however, a risk of poor healing caused by infection or mistreatment of the wound, which may lead to excessive scarring.

Blood clots

Blood clots are another potential, yet very rare, a risk of tummy tuck surgery. They can interfere with the proper flow of blood and when dislodged, they can cause stroke, heart attack or even death. To avoid the clots patients are advised to move around as soon as possible after a procedure. According to the Cleveland Clinic research, smokers and people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart, lungs or liver diseases are in the high-risk group of having blood clots.

Bleeding and Infection

Small blood drainage is a normal side effect of a surgery; if bleeding under the skin flap becomes pronounced, it will need immediate medical attention.

Another risk is an infection and there are few sings that your wound is not healing properly, amongst them fever, weakness, oozing smelly pus coming from the wound, pain and redness, tenderness and hotness of the wound’s area. Infection is usually treated with antibiotics and drainage, however, if ignored, it is life-threatening, not to mentioned skin loss, excessive scarring and fat or skin necrosis (death of the tissue) in the area. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance to keep the wound clean.

Other dangerous side effects

According to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there are few other risks of tummy tuck that may occur, i.e. collection of fluid under the skin after the drains removal that should be aspirated with the needle by the surgeon, legs’ swelling or nerve damage resulting in loss of sensation. In addition, there are aesthetical side effects which need to be taken into consideration, such as skin discoloration, prolonged swelling of the wound, asymmetry of the tummy, recurring looseness of the skin or its unevenness.

Safe tummy tuck – how to avoid complications?

After you made up your mind about having a tummy tuck done, the next logical step it to find the best surgeon and clinic. Remember to be realistic both about your aim and about the results of the procedure, even nowadays with the scientific development and cutting-edge equipment, not everything is achievable.

Not only experience but also the approach of your surgeon is an important factor in making the right choice of the doctor. Check the opinions of former patients in advance. You should feel comfortable around your doctor, free to talk about all the concerns you have regarding the procedure and able to ask all the questions. Below you will find some of the things you should definitely inquire during your meeting:

  • Do you hold a board certification? – make sure that your plastic surgeon has the right qualifications to perform the operations
  • Where do you usually operate? – your surgeon should have hospital privileges and/or use only accredited operating facilities, either public hospitals or private clinics
  • How many years of experience do you have? – most of the patients feel much more comfortable being operated by a doctor with many years of experience
  • How often do you do tummy tucks? – all doctors specialize in some part of their field, make sure that your surgeon perform a tummy tuck on every day or at least regular basis
  • Do you have any before and after photos of your previous patients? – seeing the results of the surgery will help you to make sure that you made the right decision about the doctor and about the procedure itself

What may you expect from your surgeon? During the first visit, the doctor will review your medical history, so be ready to answer all the questions about your health, lifestyle and all the procedures you had in the past. Your surgeon will definitely make a physical examination of your abdomen and take pictures for the medical records. Do not be shy about your goals and expectations, especially if the tummy tuck is related to recent weight loss or regaining confidence after pregnancy. The doctor will also explain in detail all the tummy tuck risks and benefits along with things to avoid before and after the procedure.

To ensure the safety of the tummy tuck procedure you should follow these few steps before the surgery:

  •  Stop smoking – smoking significantly slows down the healing process and increases the risks of complications after surgical procedure, due to the lower level of oxygen and toxic constituents of cigarettes in blood; be prepared that your surgeon will ask you to stop smoking at least six weeks before the procedure; it is also highly recommended to avoid cigarettes during convalescence.
  • Take great care of the medications you are taking in advance of your procedure – you will have to avoid certain medicines (aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements) which can increase bleeding and shortly before the procedure you will be asked to take anticoagulants prescribed by the doctor to prevent blood clotting.
  • Maintain a stable weight – to have the best results, you should avoid rapid weight gain and loss at least 12 months before the procedure; also significant weight loss after the surgery may diminish the results of a tummy tuck.
  • Arrange assistance during your recovery – it is strongly advisable to have a close person around straight after the procedure.

Considering affordable abdominoplasty, you should think about having tummy tuck abroad. Tummy tuck in Poland is half the price compared to UK or Germany and Polish surgeons have years of experience working in best clinics of the biggest Polish cities.

Our medical advisor company takes great pride in helping foreign patients traveling from around the world to have the surgeries in Poland. With more than 1000 satisfied customers from abroad, we are the leader on the Polish market.

Patient adviser

Klaudia has been working for a medical tourism company as a patient advisor for years. She has been helping a lot of patients from the UK, the USA, Scandinavia and many other countries. She knows very well foreign patients needs and she does her best to help them.
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