Tummy tucks are one of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures and carry one of the highest patient satisfaction. The medical term for a tummy tuck is an abdominoplasty. The reason tummy tuck procedures are so popular is they allow many women and men who have loose or sagging skin on their stomachs to return to the shape of the stomach they remember when they were young.
The Awake Tummy Tuck Procedure
There are a number of techniques for performing tummy tucks. At Innovations Medical, we do what is commonly called an Awake Tummy Tuck. The Awake Tummy Tuck procedure is performed at our Dallas and Fort Worth locations.
This is also called an Avelar procedure after the doctor who first described the procedure. Awake Tummy Tucks are done in the office, under local anesthesia and mild sedation. This allows the procedure to be done with only a few days of time off work. The Awake Tummy Tuck can be a great option for many patients who would not normally consider a traditional abdominoplasty. Although it is called “Awake”, most patients sleep through most of their procedures. It is very comfortable under local anesthesia.
Are Awake Tummy Tucks safe?
To properly consider the safety of an Awake Tummy Tuck, we need to look at the safety of both liposuction done under local anesthesia and of Awake Tummy Tuck. Liposuction done under local anesthesia, called tumescent liposuction, is an extremely safe technique. Several studies have shown only minor complications when tumescent liposuction is done by itself. This means there have been:
- NO pulmonary emboli
- NO organ perforation
- NO other major complication
- NO deaths
The tummy tuck portion of the Awake Tummy Tuck procedure is also extremely safe. The technique was originally developed to reduce complications from standard tummy tuck procedures, such as general anesthesia and issues with the skin. Using local anesthesia, liposuction on the upper abdomen can frequently give better reduction than standard tummy tuck techniques. In fact, it is not unusual for standard tummy tuck patients to require upper abdominal liposuction afterward, especially with a little weight gain. This is rare with Awake Tummy Tucks. So for some patients, Awake Tummy Tuck can result in improved cosmetic results.
Ideal Candidates for Awake Tummy Tucks
Patients who should consider Awake Tummy Tuck include:
- Women after childbirth who have a moderate to a large amount of loose or sagging skin on their stomachs.
- Women or men after weight loss or aging who have a moderate to a large amount of loose or sagging skin on their stomachs.
- Women or men who have gained weight in their stomachs and have a moderate or large amount of extra skin in the area they would like to reduce.
- Women or men who do not like the way their blouses or shirts fit.
- Women or men who do not like how their pants fit.
Those who are NOT good candidates for Awake Tummy Tuck are:
- Women or men with medical problems that would make surgery unsafe or unwise. This can be evaluated when you have a pre-operative examination.
- Women or men who are or should be considering significant weight loss via diet or weight loss surgery.
- Women or men with stomach fat or loose skin that could be improved with liposuction and SmartLipo alone.
- Women or men with a small amount of loose skin on their stomach for which other non-invasive skin tightening would give the desired results.
What should I expect after having Awake Tummy Tuck?
Reduced activities for 2-3 days: We recommend you take 2-3 days off of work or away from being highly active. Some of our patients return to work or vigorous activities sooner without any problems, but we prefer a 2-3 days break from normal activities. After 2-3 days, unless the work involves strenuous activity or a large amount of standing, most people can return to work.
For more information, see our article: Tummy Tuck Recovery: What to Expect
Medications to take after surgery: You will be given an antibiotic to take for a few days. You will also be given some pain medication. We strongly recommend taking the pain medication at bedtime on the day of the surgery. After that, you need only take it if needed. Many people use ibuprofen post-operatively.
Swelling and bruising after surgery: Some swelling and bruising can be expected. This typically lasts for 2-3 weeks but can be longer. Greater activity post-operatively and older age tend to prolong the swelling. You will go home from the surgery with drains in place. The drains are typically removed in 2-3 days but can remain in place for a week or so.
Drains and bandages post-surgery: The drains should be kept covered with pads to avoid accidents. Typically there is little drainage after the first two days. After the drains are removed most patients are able to return to most normal activities except exercise.
Exercise and weight lifting: We recommend you wait at least two weeks before resuming exercise. We strongly recommend that you not lift anything weighing more than five pounds for six weeks. Avoiding lifting helps reduce the size of the scar. Initially, you will be seen in the office every few days. After about two weeks, you will only be seen about once a month until three months and again at six months.
How well does Awake Tummy Tuck work?
The Awake Tummy Tuck procedure gives similar results to standard tummy tuck procedures. The Awake Tummy Tuck does have some advantages:
- Awake Tummy Tuck liposuctions the entire abdomen. Standard tummy tuck procedures can leave fat in the upper abdomen because it can be hard and time-consuming to reach. This can lead to a chesty look.
- The umbilicus or belly button is positioned in the preferred position. Some standard tummy tuck procedures pull the umbilicus downwards and give a lower look to the abdomen.
During Awake Tummy Tuck, we do not place sutures or plicate the abdominal muscles. This can limit the results in women with loose abdominal muscles. However, much of the downtime from standard tunny tuck procedures comes from plicating the muscles. Not plicating the muscles shortens the downtime and simplifies the procedure and recovery.
Awake Tummy Tuck Before and After*
*Results may vary.
Learn more about how the process works
Check out Dr. Johnson’s recent article that outlines the entire tummy tuck process here.
Check out our articles on Awake Tummy Tucks: