Dr. Mark Barlow MD, Plastic Surgeon in Houston, Clear Lake, Texas

450 Medical Center Blvd., Suite 207, Webster, Texas 77598

(281) 333-8999

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Tummy Tuck - Abdominoplasty

Abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure to remove extra skin from the abdomen and to tighten the abdominal wall. It can be performed as its own procedure or combined with other breast or body procedures such as liposuction. At the time of your initial consultation, you will meet with Dr. Barlow and discuss your concerns and goals. He will examine you and then offer possible surgical solutions. At this time, the extent of skin removal and incision placement will be addressed. Incision lines are placed low to be hidden behind a bathing suit; a circular scar is made around the umbilicus since it must be transposed to a new location when the excess skin is removed. Laxity of the abdominal fascia overlying the rectus muscles (these muscles form the "six pack") is common, especially following pregnancy. Sutures are used to tighten the fascia. Drains are typically placed below the skin and exit in the pubic area. Pre-operative photographs will be made to facilitate surgical planning. Of course, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered.

You will again see Dr. Barlow for a pre-operative appointment. The surgical plan will be reviewed and any additional questions answered. Dr. Barlow will note any changes in your medical history and will listen to your heart and lungs. You will also be given prescriptions to fill prior to your procedure. You will then register at the hospital.

Dr. Barlow's surgical time for abdominoplasty is around three hours. Dr. Barlow performs all abdominoplasty procedures in two hospitals in the Clear Lake/Houston area (Houston Methodist St. John Hospital where he is co-director of the Plastic Surgery Program or Clear Lake Regional Hospital where he serves as the Plastic Surgery Section Head on the Surgical Executive Committee) as an outpatient procedure. This is an important distinction. In Texas, a fully trained plastic and reconstructive surgeon is granted hospital privileges to perform abdominoplasties. Physicians who call themselves cosmetic surgeons may not have completed a plastic surgery residency. In fact, some cosmetic surgeons have not completed a single day of any surgical residency, let alone a plastic surgery residency. These physicians generally perform procedures in their own facilities because they cannot obtain hospital credentials. There is only one certifying board for plastic surgeons that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, and that is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The American Board of Medical Specialties governs and regulates each residency program, insuring that every graduate has met a rigorous training standard.

Post-operatively, you will be seen in a week to evaluate your healing. Bruising is common as is a moderate amount of swelling in the operative areas. Swelling is common in the lower abdominal area and can persist for a few months. You will be required to wear a compression garment to minimize swelling and to prevent fluid accumulation. At each visit, drain output will be assessed for timely removal. Numbness is common along the incision lines as well as below the belly button. This numbness will last for a few months and gradually disappear. You will be seen weekly for the first month, every other week for the second month and then every other month out to six months. You will be followed annually from then on.

Full activities are resumed gradually but rigorous exercise is prohibited for the first post-operative month. This will allow your body time to recover from the surgery and avoid any unnecessarily prolonged swelling. During the early recovery period, increased activity will often lead to increased swelling.

Abdominoplasty is a very gratifying procedure for both Dr. Barlow and his patients. Dr. Barlow looks forward to meeting with you and discussing your options. Call or e-mail today to schedule your appointment!

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