People are sometimes left with empty hanging folds of skin after pregnancy, serious weight loss, or sometimes just with aging. When this loose skin is surgically removed from the belly, it is called abdominoplasty or tummy tuck or body contouring. When the skin is removed around the whole waist to raise the buttock, lateral thighs and trim the tummy, it is called body lifting. From the upper arms, we call it brachioplasty. Thigh lifting is for loose inner thigh skin or posterior thigh skin.
This surgery is designed to tighten loose and flabby skin. Body contouring surgery changes the texture of the skin by stretching it thereby making the looseness and wrinkling less apparent. Body contouring surgery may be combined with liposuction. Liposuction is designed to improve fat bulges, not to tighten loose skin. In fact, liposuction alone can make the appearance of the skin worse in patients with poor skin elasticity.
As with liposuction, body contouring surgery is not intended to correct obesity; patients should be at normal or near-normal weight before surgery.
Although abdominoplasty is sometimes done under local anesthesia, most other body contouring surgery requires general anesthesia.
Loose skin cannot be removed without leaving scars, and body contouring often means long incisions that result in long scars. Your plastic surgeon will make every effort to give you the best scars possible, and to conceal them in the least visible areas.
Your doctor will advise you during your consultation about the type of scar you are likely to get.
Although scars will fade over time, you should know, that the scars will be permanent and that their final width, height and color are not entirely predictable.
The most common complications of body contouring surgery are hematoma (an accumulation of blood under the skin), seroma (fluid accumulation under then skin) and numbness of the skin. Most of the feeling usually comes back. Hematoma and seroma may require intervention to drain the blood or serum that has accumulated if it is a large amount. Problems with healing after surgery are also possible, especially if you are a smoker.
Normal activities can usually be resumed within a couple of weeks and many people return to work the third week after surgery. It can take 6-12 months to see the final result of body contouring surgery.
For further information about abdominoplasty (body contouring), click abdominoplasty.