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A complete tummy tuck can be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis using general anesthesia. A horizontal incision is made from hip bone to hip bone along the "bikini" line, where the pubic hair begins. The surgeon gently separates the skin from the abdominal wall. The muscle and soft tissue are tightened first. Then the flap is closed and excess skin and fat are removed. Sutures are used to close the incision. A mini or partial tummy tuck is used to remove fat deposits near the navel. This procedure is sometimes conducted endoscopically. A small incision is made near the belly button and excess fat is removed through it. A complete tummy tuck generally takes about 2 to 5 hours.
An elastic bandage is applied following the surgery to help prevent swelling. In some cases, drainage tubes are inserted for the first 2 to 3 days to help remove excess fluid. There is the possibility of infection following any surgery. Your surgeon will likely prescribe antibiotics to avoid infection in addition to any pain medication. Swelling, bruising and numbness are normal after the surgery and will subside in a few weeks. Patients are encouraged to begin walking right away even it they can't stand upright. Stitches are removed in 5 to 7 days, after which a support garment is used in place of the dressing. Healing from a tummy tuck is slow since this is major surgery. Most patients return to normal activity within 4 weeks. Exercise is encouraged after the initial recovery period to help tone the muscle. The scar is permanent but will fade in 6 to 9 months.