Evaluating the Abdominoplasty Patient
In addition to an evaluation of your overall health during an abdominoplasty consultation, the following three things will also be evaluated to determine the most suitable surgical techniques applied:
1. Fat Evaluation
Dr. Brown begins by evaluating not only the amount of fat present in your abdomen, but also where this tissue is located: intra-abdominally or extra-abdominally.
Intra-Abdominal Fat: Treatable Only With A Healthy Diet and Exercise Regimen
Intra-abdominal (or internal) fat is composed of both the fat that surrounds the internal organs and a large blanket-like layer called the omentum. The omentum is also made up of fat and protects the internal organs from infections. When the omentum and the fat surrounding the internal organs becomes too large these two intra-abdominal structures apply pressure and ultimately stretch the stomach muscles. The end result is a large and distended belly that may appear bloated.
Intra-abdominal tissue can only be diminished through traditional weight loss techniques like regular exercise and a healthy diet. Removing the omentum is possible, but is rarely performed since it requires highly invasive and dangerous surgery.
Extra-Abdominal Fat: Treatable With Liposuction and/or a Tummy Tuck
Extra-abdominal (or superficial) fat lies outside of the abdominal cavity between the skin and the muscles. An easy way to test whether skin is intra- or extra-abdominal is to pinch the love handles or belly. The fat that can be easily grabbed from these areas is extra-abdominal and can be removed with liposuction or a tummy tuck.
2. Skin Evaluation
Dr. Brown evaluates your skin by looking at both its quality and the amount of existing excess tissue. Skin quality is measured by the presence of stretch marks, cellulite and the degree of looseness. These traits all signify a loss of skin elasticity. When the skin loses elasticity, it loses the ability to reshape/redrape itself. Tummy tucks remove this skin, along with some stretch marks located below the belly button. Stretch marks situated above the navel can be eliminated to a certain extent if a large amount of excess skin is present.
The length of the tummy tuck scar is determined by how much excess skin you may have. Hanging skin requires a longer scar in order to avoid leaving behind excess tissue that droops over the sides of the belly (commonly known as a "dog ear"). Skin with good elasticity and without cellulite or stretch marks can be treated less extensively, leaving only minimal scarring after recovery.
3. Muscle Evaluation
Abdominal muscle looseness (or diastasis) determines a suitable abdominoplasty treatment approach as well. Stomach muscles may be loose across the entire abdomen or, more commonly, just below the naval. Patients with weak muscles may only need some tightening in the region below the belly button in order to achieve satisfactory results. Looseness across the entire abdomen will require more extensive muscle tightening with a full tummy tuck.
Read More About the Abdominoplasty / Tummy Tuck Procedure