Honest discussion and good communications during tummy tuck consultation are the foundations of any successful result, which is generally defined as a postop appearance that satisfies both the patient and her surgeon.
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley has explained the topics typically involved during the initial tummy tuck consultation.
- Cosmetic goals and expectations
The patient must be able to explain in detail her cosmetic goals, allowing her surgeon to recommend ancillary procedures (such as liposuction of the flanks for a narrower waistline), adjust the incision pattern, and use the appropriate surgical maneuvers.
While a good surgeon respects and acknowledges his patient’s input, he must be able to explain certain limitations and caveats such as the appearance of the hip-to-hip scar, downtime, and risks associated with any surgery.
Meanwhile, patients who have unrealistic goals and expectations or cannot accept the ramifications that come with surgery are poor candidates for tummy tuck or any type of body contouring procedure.
- Patient’s individual health
The patient’s candidness and commitment will play a critical role to the success and safety of her surgery. She must fully disclose her drug use (including supplements and recreational drugs), medical history and condition, previous surgeries, and drug allergies to her surgeon and anesthesiologist.
- Incision pattern and other surgical maneuvers
During tummy tuck consultation, doctors conduct physical exam to determine the extent of pannus (loose abdominal skin), condition of the rectus muscle, navel appearance, shape of the flanks, and even the pubis. Not many patients realize that they will also need a pubic lift so the area will not detract from the smoother results.
After the physical exam, the surgeons will explain to their patients the length, shape, and position of their tummy tuck scar; all efforts are made to ensure that it will lie very low that it is easily concealed by the underwear.
- Patient safety
A good surgeon must not only inform his patients about the benefits of tummy tuck, but also the potential risks. Nonetheless, he must be able to allay their concerns by explaining his contingency plan should problems arise during surgery or afterwards; and the preparation and surgical methods to prevent or at least minimize risk of complications.
Furthermore, reputable tummy tuck surgeons only conduct their operations in an accredited surgical facility and are always accompanied by board-certified anesthesiologists and highly trained medical staff during the operation.
- Surgeon’s qualifications
Prudent patients can utilize tummy tuck consultation to their advantage. They must ask their plastic surgeons about their qualifications particularly relating to their board certifications (the American Board of Plastic Surgery is the gold standard), education, experience, and training.
Patients can evaluate the “artistic skills” of their surgeons through the before-and-after photos of their actual work and must insist to talk with at least two previous patients.
When looking for tummy tuck surgeons, it doesn’t hurt to seek second or third opinion until the patient has found the doctor she finds to be the “right fit.”
- Patient’s responsibility and commitment
During tummy tuck consultation, the surgeons explain to their patients that the success of their surgery also boils down to their commitment. For instance, most known healing problems can be minimized by avoiding tobacco products, aspirin and other drugs/supplements with blood thinning effects, and poor lifestyle/diet well in advance of the surgery.
Furthermore, the patients should be committed to their recovery. The general rule of thumb is to avoid rigorous activities, smoking, certain drugs and supplements, and unhealthy diet (particularly foods high in sodium as they can lead to persistent swelling).