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Are you disappointed by loose abdominal muscles and skin around your stomach? You may have tried diet and exercise, but in many cases cosmetic surgery is the only way to retighten this area. Abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a tummy tuck, can benefit Columbus, Ohio, residents and men and women across Southeast Ohio who have excess fat or loose skin and muscles around their midriff.
The effects of pregnancy on the abdominal musculature leave the muscles stretched, causing the “pooch” that will not improve. Abdominoplasty is not a weight loss surgery; it is a procedure to resculpt the abdominal wall. It is ideal for correcting saggy tissue and excess fat in the midsection. Dr. Lichten also frequently combines tummy tuck with liposuction in Columbus, Ohio, to create a substantially slimmer and more toned mid-body contour.
“Dr. Lichten took the time to answer all my questions and he was optimistic about my results. The staff are very friendly and answered all of my questions. I am very pleased with my whole experience. Thank you!”
“I had been wanting to have a tummy tuck for a long time. I had an appendectomy scar and a c-section scar that drove me crazy because fat would hang over the scars making my abdomen look lumpy. During my yearly exam January 2017, my gynecologist discovered I had fibroid tumors and suggested I have a hysterectomy. Doing research on-line, I found that lots of women have a tummy tuck AT THE SAME TIME as the hysterectomy, so I thought “Why not?!”. From the Realself site, I found Dr. Lichten and Central Ohio Plastic Surgery in Lancaster. From the very beginning, Dr. Lichten and his staff were AWESOME! Dr. Lichten was honest and down to earth. I felt totally comfortable with Dr. Lichten and with the procedures he recommended. He suggested a collaborating gynecologist and after several appointments with both, I had a hysterectomy, tummy tuck, liposuction of flanks and thighs October 2017. Both surgeries went great and Dr. Lichten was so attentive, even getting me a clean compression garment and bringing it the hospital before I left! After the surgery and follow-up appointments, he listened to and answered all my goofy questions. I look better and feel so much better about myself. I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER! I am recommending Dr. Lichten to all my friends and certainly recommend him to you all!”
Tummy Tuck Candidates
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are individuals in good overall shape and health with extra fat or loose skin in their midsection. In many cases, these areas do not improve despite diet and exercise. Abdominoplasty may be a solution for women who have had several pregnancies, men who cannot lose their gut, some individuals who have a protruding abdomen, and people who have lost weight only to be left with loose, flabby skin in the abdominal region.
“Dr. Lichten was very friendly and informative. He made me at ease. Dr. Lichten is a great doctor…I would definitely go back to him and definitely recommend him to others.”
Because the surgery retightens the abdominal muscles, women should have finished with having children, because additional pregnancies after the procedure will compromise results. Patients also should be at or close to their goal weight. To find out if you are a good candidate for abdominoplasty, consult with Ohio plastic surgeon Dr. Lichten.
Dr. Lichten performs abdominoplasty by making a carefully-placed incision below the belly button from hip to hip. Through this incision, he is able to trim and retighten the abdominal muscles, while also removing excess skin and fatty tissue. If necessary, the belly button is repositioned and reshaped. After completing the tummy tuck, Dr. Lichten then closes the incision and applies surgical dressings.
“I’ve never been proud of my body, but now I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I feel great, best I’ve ever felt!”
Tummy tucks may take between 2 to 5 hours to complete. Dr. Lichten will provide more details about the procedure if you decide together that it is right for you.
Tummy Tuck Before & Afters
What is involved in a standard tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery?
In a standard tummy tuck, I remove a large oval of skin from hip to hip and from the belly button down to the pubic area. I will also tighten the muscles in the midline of the abdomen from the rib cage down to the pubic area to create a flatter stomach. To keep the belly button in the right place, I make a small, circular incision around it and then bring it through a new opening once the rest of the belly is tightened up.
Can I just get a mini-tummy tuck?
In a mini-tummy tuck, I surgically remove less skin from the lower abdomen than in a standard tummy tuck and I do not need to re-position the belly button. For a mini-tummy tuck, I will often perform liposuction of the abdomen to create a firmer, tighter surface, which is generally not necessary with a full tummy tuck. In a mini-tummy tuck, only the lower abdominal muscles are tightened, but the trade-off is a shorter scar that is lower on the body.
For my patients with a lot of extra skin, stretch marks or those who have had children, I generally recommend a standard tummy tuck. If you have minimal extra skin, loose lower abdominal muscles and some extra fat, you may be a better candidate for a mini-tummy tuck. After a consultation and an exam, you and I will discuss the best plan to get you the result you want.
How long do I have to wait to exercise after my tummy tuck?
Usually, patients can resume light activity within 2-3 weeks, which includes walking, but not strenuous exercise. After 4-6 weeks, patients may be able to start formal exercise, but it is usually around 2-3 months before they can get back to pre-surgery levels of exercise.
As with most surgeries, if you overdo activities too soon, you can tear out the stiches, pull the muscles and possibly end up with a hematoma. During your healing time, pain is an important guide. If it hurts, stop. You should not try to work through the pain.
I have lost a significant amount of weight, but now I have a lot of extra skin. Will a tummy tuck work for me?
Patients who have lost a significant amount of weight, either through bariatric surgery or through diet and exercise, will often have more extra skin than what a standard abdominoplasty can correct. For those patients, I will take an additional upside down “V” of skin from the ribs to the standard abdominoplasty incision.
Unfortunately, that creates an additional vertical scar from the ribs to the pubic area. Some bariatric surgery patients may already have a scar in that area, so that scar may be able to be revised.
Another option for massive weight loss patients is to perform a lower body lift called a belt lipectomy. In this procedure, I remove excess fat and skin from the lower abdomen, flanks and lower back just above the buttocks – all the way around the body. The abdominal muscles are tightened just like in a standard abdominoplasty. The removal of skin on the back can provide a lift of the buttocks.
Do I need to be at my goal weight before I have a tummy tuck?
Tummy tucks work best on excess skin and loose muscles. Excess fat can be partially treated through a tummy tuck, but the results of surgery are much better the closer you are to your goal weight. I tell my patients that every pound they lose before surgery is ten times better than the weight they lose after surgery.
If you are significantly overweight, you should wait to do your abdominoplasty. The more weight you lose prior to surgery, the more skin can be removed and the better result you get. You don’t have to get down to your ideal weight, but should be stable and close to your overall goal, because often, I can remove the last 5-10 pounds during your surgery. It is possible, however, for patients who have lost weight, but still have an extra 25-30 pounds to lose, to still have a dramatic improvement with their tummy tucks. The best way to figure out if you are ready for a tummy tuck is to come into the office and have a consult.
Can I combine other procedures with a tummy tuck at the same time?
Yes. My mommy makeover patients will often combine a tummy tuck with liposuction and a breast augmentation or lift. Doing multiple procedures at the same time will result in fewer recovery periods and will usually result in a significant reduction in fees.
I have also had patients combine a hysterectomy or tubal ligation surgery (getting your “tubes tied”) with a tummy tuck. We will coordinate the surgeries with your gynecologist’s office. Again, combining surgeries can result in a cost savings, especially if your insurance covers the gynecologic procedures. I will not combine a tummy tuck with a scheduled c-section for several reasons. First, a c-section is a relatively quick procedure and I don’t want to add a long surgery onto the end of that. Second, to obtain an optimal result, your body needs time to recover and regain its pre-pregnancy shape before a tummy tuck. Finally, there are restrictions on lifting immediately after a tummy tuck and I don’t want to interfere with your bonding with your new baby.
Before I have a tummy tuck, do I have to quit smoking?
Yes. Yes you do. Nicotine causes your blood vessels to constrict, which reduces the blood supply to your healing skin, compromising healing and sometimes causing skin to die. I advise all of my surgery patients to avoid smoking, and secondhand smoke, for a month before and after surgery. This advice is particularly important for tummy tuck, breast reduction, breast lift, body lift and facelift patients, because I am pulling skin tighter during surgery. Proper healing is dependent on good blood flow and smoking really compromises that healing and increases your risk for complication.
Are drains used with a tummy tuck, and if so, how long do they stay in?
Drains prevent the internal collection of blood and fluid. I will usually use two drains for a standard tummy tuck and one for a mini. If you have a lower body lift, I will also typically use an additional two drains in the back.
Drains typically stay in for 1-3 weeks after surgery.
I’m thinking about having more children, but I really want to have a tummy tuck, what should I do?
Sometimes for my younger patients who have had Massive Weight Loss, I will consider removal of the excess skin before having children. Typically, however, I will defer tightening the skin and muscles until after you are done having children.
Will a tummy tuck remove my stretch marks?
A full tummy tuck will remove most of the stretch marks between the pubic area and your belly button. Often I am able to move the stretch marks from above your belly button down below it, making them less conspicuous. Because of the location of the incision, I am not able to remove many stretch marks with a mini-tummy tuck.
How much pain will I be in after an abdominoplasty?
Tummy tucks tend to be more painful than some other plastic surgery procedures, but most pain is controlled with oral medications. Many of my patients use Exparel, which is a long acting numbing medication that I inject directly into the site as I operate. In terms of return to activity, as I stated above for question 3, your best guide is pain. If it hurts, stop. Do not work through pain as you recover.
How bad will my tummy tuck scar be?
For a full tummy tuck, the scar will typically extend from hip to hip, but it is usually concealed in the waist line of underwear or a bikini and a thin line around the belly button. I only use dissolvable stitches and I bury them under the surface of the skin. Although some surgeons will use staples to close after surgery, because they are faster, I do not use them, because I do not think they give the best looking scar.
I should note, however, that some patients naturally form thick, hard scars regardless of how skilled and careful the surgeon is during surgery.
Do I have to have general anesthesia for my abdominoplasty?
Typically, I prefer general anesthesia for my patients. Although it can be done with epidural or spinal anesthesia, that is not my first choice for most patients.
How do I know if my doctor is qualified to perform my surgery?
No one can guarantee your results. You can, however, ensure that your doctor has had the right training, by confirming that s/he is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Although many physicians claim to be board certified, you should confirm their specialty. In addition, you can gain comfort if your doctor is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). The ASPS confirms plastic surgeons’ background training and education. In addition, they ensure that the doctor keeps up on the latest medical developments and research.
You can see Dr. Lichten’s background, publications and training at http://www.centralohioplasticsurgery.com/columbus-plastic-surgeon/professional-resume