Preparing for Abdominoplasty

A good candidate for abdominoplasty:
• Is close to their ideal body weight (within 30%)
• Wants to remove specific areas of loose skin or fat that is diet- and exercise-resistant
• Weight has been stable for 6 months or more
• Has good skin tone and elasticity
• Has realistic expectations
• Is emotionally stable
• Understands the risks of abdominoplasty surgery

If you do not meet all of these criteria, but meet some of them, you may still be a good candidate for a tummy tuck. The traditional tummy tuck procedure is most suited to those who are close to their ideal body weight, but if you have a lot of fat in a isolated area, you may still be a good candidate.

If you intend to lose a lot of weight, wait until after your weight loss to schedule abdominoplasty surgery. If you plan on future pregnancies, you should wait until you are done having children to have surgery as pregnancy will stretch the abdomen again.

Initial Consultation
At your initial consultation, your plastic surgeon will evaluate your health, determine the extent of fat deposits in your abdomen, and assess your skin tone. Be specific about what you would like done. If your surgeon fully understands your expectations, he'll be able to determine whether your goals are realistic.

If your fat deposits are limited to the area below the navel, you may require a less complex procedure called a partial abdominoplasty, also know as a mini tummy tuck, which can often be performed on an outpatient basis (See Mini Tummy Tucks vs. Full Tummy Tucks). You may, on the other hand, benefit more from partial or complete abdominoplasty done in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips, for a better body contour. Liposuction alone may create the best result. You will want to discuss these options with a board certified plastic surgeon.

You are at increased risk for complications if you have diabetes, poor circulation, heart, lung or liver disease, smoke, have a family history of blood clots, take certain medications, etc. You'll want to discuss your medical history thoroughly with your physician before you choose to undergo surgery.

Pre-Op Preparation
Before Surgery:
[ ] Do not take aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications (your doctor can provide you with a list of OTC medications to avoid)
[ ] If you smoke, quit smoking for at least 2 weeks pre-op (and anticipate no smoking for the recovery, smoking greatly increases your risk of complications)
[ ] Obtain a copy of your doctor's protocol
[ ] Make arrangements to have someone drive you to and from the operation
[ ] Arrange for someone to care for you the first 24-72 hours after surgery (consider hiring a nurse for the first 24 hours, this is can be very tiring and emotional for loved ones)
[ ] Fill prescriptions (especially pain medications) before surgery
[ ] Purchase any homeopathic medicines (i.e. Bromelain and Arnica Gel, for swelling and bruising) Be sure to discuss this with your doctor
[ ] Prepare and freeze meals for 2 weeks
Consider: Protein shakes, soup, pudding, applesauce, yogurt, oatmeal, cottage cheese, juice (purchase flexible straws for easier drinking)
Talk to your doctor about low-sodium foods to reduce swelling
[ ] Set up home recovery area: lots of pillows, books, magazines, journal, stationery, lotion, baby wipes, tv, videos, remote control
[ ] Black out windows so you can rest during the day
[ ] Whistle, bell, walkie-talkies or intercom system for requesting help
[ ] Telephone with speaker phone near your bed
[ ] Prepare Icepacks (can also use packs of frozen veggies) to reduce post-op swelling
Purchase large clips to hold packs in place
[ ] Mouthwash (you won't be able to brush your teeth for the first day or two)
[ ] Moisturizers, scar reducing/minimizing creams (such as Mederma) and petroleum jelly for incisions
[ ] Laxatives (pain medications are often binding
[ ] Eye Drops (after any surgery, eyes can be dry)
[ ] Consider hand-held shower head and bathroom chair
[ ] Telephone with speaker phone near your bed
[ ] On the day of surgery, wear loose clothing which will be easy to get off and on after operation (a shirt that buttons in front)
[ ] Follow your physician's directions carefully regarding medications, eating & drinking, etc.

Insurance Coverage of Abdominoplasty Surgery
Insurance generally does not cover elective surgery. However, it may cover a portion of the abdominoplasty if there is excessive spreading of the anterior muscles or a hernia is present. Check with your insurance company, and be sure to obtain proper pre-authorization for your surgery.

Questions to ask your insurance:
• Does my policy cover the costs of the surgery, the implant, the anesthesia, and/or other related hospital costs?
• Will there be an increase in my insurance premium?
• Will future coverage be affected?