Tummy Tuck Surgery in Columbus, OH
Though the core of the human body houses a great deal of strength, it also endures some great challenges. Natural processes like pregnancy, weight gain, and aging can compromise both the structure and the appearance of the abdomen. Loose skin, stubborn fat deposits, stretch marks, and even damage to the abdominal muscles can be the unfortunate result.
Because these issues don’t always respond favorably to diet, exercise, or topical treatments, patients are often left feeling frustrated and defeated. If you’re in this situation, tummy tuck surgery (also known as abdominoplasty) can provide an effective option for addressing your functional and cosmetic concerns.
What is Tummy Tuck Surgery?
Patients frequently get tummy tuck surgery confused with liposuction. However, while liposuction can be used during abdominoplasty, these two procedures are profoundly different. Abdominoplasty is used for much more than just fat removal. It can rebuild a damaged abdomen from the inside out, starting with the patient’s underlying musculature.
Pressure exerted on the abdominal wall (from the weight of fat deposits or the growth of a baby) sometimes causes the tissue that joins the lateral portions of the abdominal muscles to tear. Once this happens, the muscles can no longer function “in sync,” resulting in a profound looseness that no amount of exercise can fix. Not only does this cause the stomach to jut forward (because the muscles are no longer capable of compressing it), it can cause a range of medical issues as well.
Healthy abdominal muscles are needed to support the lower back, for example, so chronic lower back pain often develops in patients with this condition. Patients with weakened abdominal muscles are also at greater risk of developing ventral hernias and stress urinary incontinence.
As such, the foundation of tummy tuck surgery involves repairing the patient’s compromised abdominal tissue. This will allow it to heal naturally, restoring its original functionality.
If the patient also has stubborn belly fat, Dr. Zochowski will use liposuction to remove it. Once this step is complete, he will carefully drape the skin of the abdomen so that it’s smooth, but not overly tight. Any loose skin the patient has will then be removed (note that some stretch marks can be removed along with excess skin), then the patient’s incisions are closed and he or she is on the road to a tighter, smoother, and stronger abdomen.
While this surgical technique does require the creation of lengthy incisions, they’re usually placed in areas where they won’t be noticeable after the patient has healed. Abdominoplasty incisions are typically made near the pubic area, so most scars won’t be visible even while wearing a bikini. Dr. Zochowski is especially conscious about keeping the scar low.
Want to see real patient results?
Explore all the Tummy Tuck cases performed by Dr. Christopher Zochowski in Columbus, Ohio.
Want to see real patient results?
Explore all the Tummy Tuck cases performed by Dr. Christopher Zochowski in Columbus, Ohio.
Who Makes a Good Tummy Tuck Candidate?
Tummy tuck candidates must be in good health and be willing to dedicate several weeks to recovery. Patients should also not be smoking; if you smoke, you’ll have to quit at least one month before your surgery in order to give your cardiovascular system time to heal. Certain medications, like blood thinners, also have the potential to increase a patient’s risk of complications. When you come in for a consultation, Dr. Zochowski will personally review your complete medical history to make sure that you can safely have this procedure.
Ideally, tummy tuck patients should be done having children and losing weight. Future pregnancies and additional weight loss both have the potential to compromise the results of this procedure by creating more loose skin. Tummy tuck surgery will not, however, impair your ability to have children. If you become pregnant unexpectedly, you’ll have the option to use revision surgery to update your results (after you’ve healed from giving birth).
What to Expect During Tummy Tuck Recovery
After your operation, expect to take between two to three weeks off from work and plan to rest in bed during the beginning of your recovery. You’ll be given prescription pain medication to alleviate any discomfort. Surgical drains are often placed after tummy tuck surgery, making walking, sitting, and bending more challenging, but you should begin with gentle walking as soon as you are able to. You will be provided with an abdominal binder that you will be expected to wear to provide abdominal support, as well as control swelling after surgery.
You should start to feel better and see a significant reduction in swelling after about three weeks. Your abdominal muscles will take about two months to return to their full level of functionality, so you’ll need to make some lifestyle adjustments throughout this period. You will not be able to engage in vigorous exercise or lift anything that weighs more than 15 pounds. If you have young children, we strongly recommend enlisting the aid of a caregiver while you’re healing.
Excellent follow-up care is absolutely essential for tummy tuck patients, and Dr. Zochowski prides himself on being there for his patients throughout their recovery journey. Dr Zochowski and his staff are available if any questions or concerns arise. Dr. Zochowski will schedule a follow-up appointment 1 week after surgery, 2 weeks after surgery, and 1 month after surgery. If there are no concerns regarding the progress of your recovery, you will have a 3-month appointment before being released back to all of your normal activities.
Schedule a Private Consultation
If you’re in the Columbus area and have any questions or wish to schedule a consultation with Dr. Christopher Zochowski, please contact our office today.
If the patient also has stubborn belly fat, Dr. Zochowski will also recommend to provide smooth contours. Liposuction is an advanced surgical body sculpting technique to help tummy tuck patients achieve a flatter, firmer abdomen. Dr. Zochowski will use small incisions to insert a small device called a cannula to extract pockets of diet- and exercise-resistant subcutaneous fat. As a versatile procedure, liposuction can help remove stubborn fat in the abdomen, back, inner and outer thighs, chin, arms, and knees. Unfortunately, it cannot address excess skin or muscle laxity, which is why it is so often used in conjunction with abdominoplasty.
Additionally, for patients who are looking to add additional volume to their breasts or buttocks, Dr. Zochowski can use the fat harvested during the combined procedure and transfer it to the areas the patient would like to have augmented. Fat grafting is an excellent, natural alternative treatment for patients who are considering or to restore volume and definition in areas that may have become flat or deflated without using implants.
Book Your Tummy Tuck Consultation in Columbus
Abdominoplasty has the power to transform a protruding, slack abdomen into a sculpted, firm one—all while restoring functionality and preventing medical issues. If you’ve been pregnant or have lost a great deal of weight and you’re ready to take the final step in rejuvenating your body, call Dr. Zochowski to book your tummy tuck consultation. He’ll help you define your goals, devise a personalized treatment and recovery plan, and arrange financing for you.
You can also rest assured knowing that he provides CosmetAssure insurance to all of his cosmetic patients, so you’ll be covered should complications arise and a return to the operating room is necessary. At Zochowski Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, our primary objective is to provide a safe, comfortable surgical experience that results in complete patient satisfaction.
Frequently Asked Questions Following Abdominoplasty
You will have mild bruising and swelling of the abdominal skin. There may be a “ruffled” appearance to the closure/incision. This is normal and will flatten with time. If you had full abdominal contouring it will be difficult to stand up straight for several days, and your abdomen will feel tight.
The contour of your abdomen will not take its final shape for several months after the surgery. You may have dark discoloration from dry blood at your incision and this is normal. The belly button incision may develop some crusting that is dried fluid. This is normal and will be cleaned at your first post-op visit.
You normally can shower 24 to 48 hours after your surgery using a mild fragrance free soap such as Ivory or Dove.
Avoid using very hot water. Your abdomen will be tender, so wash this area gently and pat dry with a clean towel. Allow the area to fully dry before putting on the dressings and binder. Do not bath in a bathtub until instructed by the doctor.
Your drains are held in place with stitches to your skin and should always be supported to avoid pulling on the drain.
The easiest method is to safety pin the drain bulb to your abdominal support or clothing. When you shower, you may temporarily “hang” the drain bulb around a lanyard. The “How to care for your drain” pamphlet has more detailed information. Drains are generally removed within 7 to 10 days after your surgery.
Yes, we recommend that you wear an abdominal support garment for 12 weeks following your surgery removing the garment only for bathing. You will have a binder applied directly after surgery. You should wear this binder for the first several weeks. About 4-6 weeks after surgery, you can start to wear other support garments that can be purchased on line if you wish.
Most patients find that a spandex or Lycra waist and tummy shaping garment are most comfortable to wear when Dr Zochowski approves transition out of the surgical binder. Whatever you choose, it should be easy and comfortable for you to put on and remove. After 12 weeks, with Dr Zochowski’s approval you may discontinue all support garments
You will gradually be able to stand upright over the first week. Many patients find it easier to sleep in a recliner for a few days after the surgery, especially if you had a hernia repair and/or full abdominal contouring. You should walk every day but have someone assist you for the first few days. You should not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds or participate in heavy exercise for six weeks after the surgery.
After six weeks, gradually return to you normal activities and exercise routines. Depending on the type of work you do, you should be able to return to your job as soon as you are comfortable. If your job does not require heavy activity, you should be able to go back to work in 2-3 weeks. Hernia repair patients are to check with their hernia surgeon regarding additional restrictions
You generally should be able to drive about five to seven days after surgery if you feel up to it.
You should never drive if you are still taking any pain medication other than Tylenol.
The most discomfort that you will have lasts three to five days, sometimes a little longer. As you feel more comfortable, your need for medication will be less.
Dr Zochowski will prescribe a pain medication for you and may also have you take an antibiotic. Follow the directions on the bottle for their use. The pain medication will make you feel drowsy. Have someone assist you in your home and do not attempt to drive while you are taking the pain medication. A few days after surgery most patients will find that Tylenol will take care of the discomfort. Do not use aspirin or ibuprofen (Motrin) for five days after the surgery.
Do not drink alcohol for five days after your surgery or while taking narcotic pain medicines.
You will normally be seen in the office within one week of your surgery and then at about two weeks, six weeks, and six months after surgery to monitor healing. Additional appointments may be necessary.
Urgent problems after abdominoplasty do not occur frequently. These are the complications that will require a change in your post-operative care:
Hematoma (blood collecting under your incisions) can occur within a few days of your surgery. The warning signs are:
- Severe pain that does not respond to medication
- Significant swelling in your abdomen
- Excessive or growing bruising
Infection is rare following abdominoplasty. It is normal to have a small amount of drainage from the incisions and around your belly button for a few days. Signs of infection are:
- Increased temperature
- Increasing drainage from the incisions
- Increasing redness around the incisions
Leg swelling with or without associated pain may indicate a problem with the vein circulation in your leg(s). Although some swelling is to be expected due to your surgery, intravenous fluids given to you during the surgery, and your decreased level of activity, this swelling is normally mild, painless and affects both legs evenly. If you have a large amount of leg swelling (either one or both legs) or if you experience pain in your legs contact the office immediately.
Breathing problems after abdominoplasty are rare but can be a serious complication. If you develop any chest and/or back pain or the feeling of being short of breath you must contact the office or be seen in the nearest emergency medical facility without delay.
Medication reactions may occur with the drugs prescribed for you. If you develop a skin rash, itching, vomiting, or diarrhea, stop taking your medication and contact the office.
Tummy Tuck Post-Operation
Start your diet with clear liquids or a light soup. Most people can resume a normal diet the day after surgery. Advance your diet as tolerated to your regular diet over the next 24 hours.
You may experience some constipation as a result of the pain medication. A mild laxative such as Milk of Magnesia or a stool softener is recommended. If this is not sufficient, dulcolax or a suppository may be necessary. These can be purchased over the counter at the pharmacy.
Please wear your abdominal binder at all times. Only removing to shower, or wash if necessary.
You should remain flexed/bent at the hips to relieve any tension on the incision. This can be achieved by resting in a recliner chair, or on your side in bed with pillows behind you. For the first few days after surgery, you should refrain from standing up completely straight. Again, you do not want any tension on the abdominal incision.
Mild activity is encouraged after surgery. Walking short distances around your home to encourage healthy blood flow is important in preventing formation of blood clots. Please avoid lifting anything heavier than 5 pounds. Plan to have a caretaker available to help you for at least the first 72 hours after surgery. Do not resume any additional activity until your progress is evaluated at your first post -operative appointment, typically 1 week.
Leave all dressings, the compression garment or abdominal binder in place 24 to 48 hours. After 48 hours you may remove this binder briefly for a sponge bath or shower. Avoid bathing in a bathtub until cleared by the doctor. Following a shower replace the gauze dressings if needed and replace the abdominal binder. Some people find that a T shirt beneath the binder is more comfortable. If you have drains, keep the drain bulbs loose outside of the binder at all times. The abdominal binder can be washed in your home clothing washer.
Drains should be stripped and emptied regularly. Please record the output twice daily on the drain record sheet. Bring this record with you to your follow up appointment.
Any residual surgical soap (yellow) or marker can be gently removed with rubbing alcohol.
Swelling, bruising, redness and of the skin is normal and will resolve over time. Numbness of the abdominal skin is also normal, but will take several months to improve.
Showers can be taken 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Remove the compression garment or abdominal binder and dressings for the shower and replace the binders and other dressings after drying. Remain flexed at the hips during the shower, most easily done by using a shower stool or chair (an inexpensive plastic resin chair works well). Drains can be strung around your neck on shoestring or rope during the shower. Do not let the drains hang from the sutures as these may accidentally get pulled out.
Take the narcotic pain medicine as instructed to manage pain. Do not drive until you are no longer taking the narcotics and are free of significant pain. Do NOT take aspirin or aspirin containing products. Before taking Advil or Ibuprofen please check with your surgeon as this may also lead to bleeding.
If there is a problem, please call the office at (614) 604-7820. If it is after hours, you can obtain the on-call doctors contact information on a recorded message. Most issues are easily addressed and do not require significant intervention.
- Nausea that lasts 4 hours or more and does not respond to medication
- Bleeding that is persistent and uncontrolled
- High fever lasting more than a few hours and not responding to medication
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
- Loss of consciousness
If you feel the situation is urgent, call 911 and/or proceed directly to the closest emergency room. Please call us as well.