For many people, diet and exercise can provide only limited improvement to a lax, protruding abdomen, which is often the result of pregnancy or significant weight loss. Separated abdominal muscles, stretched skin, and stubborn fat deposits can be corrected through surgery. A tummy tuck, also called abdominoplasty, in Chicago with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas Mustoe can give you the slender, firm midsection that exercise and healthy eating have failed to achieve. Many patients fear the length of recovery and downtime. Through continued improvements in technique over 25 years and 1,000 abdominoplasties, Dr. Mustoe can ensure most of his patients return to work in 1 week and have limited need for strong pain medications.
Dr. Mustoe is considered by his peers to be an authority on abdominoplasty. He has lectured and written articles about innovations in tummy tuck surgery. He has been published in Abdominoplasty Journal. If you would like to meet with Dr. Mustoe to discuss your body contouring options, request a consultation online. Or you can call us at (312) 788-2560 and one of our helpful staff members will schedule your appointment.
For many people, one of the most difficult areas of the body to tone and trim is the midsection. A protruding abdomen and rolls of loose skin and fat can make you self-conscious, and can distort the contour of your body, even if you are otherwise physically fit. A tummy tuck can dramatically improve your appearance by creating a firm, flat abdomen and slim waist. The procedure is performed to:
At our practice in Chicago, tummy tuck is commonly performed on massive weight loss patients or women whose skin and muscles have been overstretched by pregnancy. Patients who wish to restore their bodies after childbirth often combine their tummy tucks with other procedures, such as labiaplasty.
Dr. Mustoe begins each abdominoplasty by carefully placing incisions low enough to be reliably hidden by a bikini or underwear, and then elevates the tissues at a depth that minimizes injury during surgery, which reduce pain and accelerate recovery. Recovery in his hands has shortened markedly over the past several years. Dr. Mustoe has pioneered and published about a technique that improves the aesthetics of the belly button after surgery. In most cases the incision around the belly button is well hidden. After making the navel incision, he removes excess skin and repairs abdominal muscles that were stretched and separated during pregnancy. He often uses liposuction extensively as part of the procedure to further improve the contour of the abdomen, waist, and flanks, especially when performing a mommy makeover.
If only the area below the navel needs correction, Dr. Mustoe can perform a "mini" procedure that involves a smaller incision and may require less recovery and downtime than with a full tummy tuck. However, most patients get a more complete result with a full abdominoplasty, and can still return to work and almost full activity within 2 weeks.
Through extensive research and experience, Dr. Mustoe has developed several improvements to traditional abdominoplasty surgery. These include:
As an abdominoplasty specialist, Dr. Mustoe employs a variety of innovative techniques to make recovery as easy as possible and provide the most attractive, natural-looking results. His patients benefit from the following:
Unlike many surgeons, Dr. Mustoe performs abdominoplasty using local anesthesia with sedation. This approach allows the patient the benefit of being conscious but the comfort of being unaware of their procedure. Further advantages of local anesthesia include a lower incidence of nausea and other issues such as sore throat often associated with general anesthesia; a smooth, painless recovery from the effects of anesthesia; and perhaps most importantly, a reduced risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots).
After having children, some women have loose skin mainly in the lower abdomen along with abdominal wall laxity (stretched and separated abdominal muscles). Dr. Mustoe has found that he can achieve excellent results for these tummy tuck patients by performing a mini abdominoplasty with a floating umbilicus. Most surgeons make an incision around the belly button, tighten the abdominal skin, and then insert the belly button through a new opening in the abdominal skin (see figure).
The floating umbilicus technique involves detaching the belly button from underneath, repairing the muscles, and then reattaching the belly button to the muscle wall. The only abdominoplasty incision is made at the level of a C-section scar below the bikini line, which allows access to the muscle wall and removal of the excess lower abdominal skin. Dr. Mustoe believes this technique is superior because he can repair abdominal muscle separation (rectus diastasis) and avoid an incision around the belly button. The resulting belly button looks very natural, without any visible scar. If an incision around the belly button is necessary, Dr. Mustoe has for many years used a technique which he published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, which results in a natural appearing "inny" belly button which conceals the scar very well. This technique allows women to wear bikinis without the unnatural, "operated on" appearance of a scarred belly button.
By using innovative scar reduction techniques and overlapping the soft tissues at the site of the incision, Dr. Mustoe is able to consistently achieve a hairline abdominoplasty scar that is flat rather than depressed and always lies below the bikini line. Occasionally there is a short vertical scar from the site of the umbilicus that has been pulled down in patients with less skin excess. This small scar can easily be excised in the office a year later when the skin has relaxed, leaving only a horizontal scar below the bikini line. Dr. Mustoe has found that a scar with a smooth gentle curve following the contours of the abdomen gives the most aesthetically pleasing result.
Although it is an outpatient procedure, tummy tuck is still a major surgery. Dr. Mustoe's patients experience a much more comfortable recovery and reduced rate of complications, but it is important to take adequate time to rest and recuperate following your abdominoplasty. With the exception of walking around, activities should be limited the first 2 to 3 days following surgery. During this time, our patients may use prescription medication for pain, but many find that over the counter pain relievers are enough to manage their discomfort. After 1 week, most patients are able to resume their normal routines. They can lift an infant or drive in 2 days and do cardio exercises within a week, although running is usually not comfortable for 2 weeks. Core exercises such as situps, heavy lifting, or Pilates should be delayed for 2 months to give the diastasis repair time to gain full strength.
Within just a few weeks of surgery, you will be able to show off your slimmer, firmer middle. Minor swelling will continue to resolve over several weeks, and scars will continue to fade for up to a year. Our abdominoplasty patients report feeling more comfortable in their clothing, and more confident about their bodies after their procedure.