Tummy tuck or abdominoplasty creates a narrower waistline and preserves the natural curves of the abdominal area by reshaping the skin and deeper muscle, explains leading plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smaili.
To further achieve a smoother profile, it is not uncommon to use liposuction to remove the excess fat especially in the flanks and upper abdomen at the time of surgery.
But aside from contouring the soft tissue in the abdomen, the renowned surgeon says that the appearance of navel after tummy tuck can also make or break the result.
The majority of patients require the use of a full tummy tuck wherein a horizontal hipbone-to-hipbone incision is placed as close possible to the pubic region to hide the scars. In this procedure, a new navel is created through a rather complex technique to achieve natural-looking results.
But what really constitutes a natural-looking navel?
Dr. Smaili says that a navel that is perfectly round looks operated and unnatural, so any skilled plastic surgeon will simulate the appearance of “hooding” from 11 o’clock to 2 o’clock.
A natural-looking belly button also appears more oval in shape and is “sufficiently sunken,” the surgeon explains. This appearance is achieved by suturing the top of the navel to the skin flap and deeper muscle fascia.
Aside from the navel’s appearance, Dr. Smaili also highlights the importance of making its size not too small or too large, and positioning it in a way that it looks “balanced” relative to the waist and hips.
Because the new navel may shrink as the skin redrapes to the new contour, some plastic surgeons recommend putting a small retrievable marble a couple of hours every day on the belly button. It is important to keep the area dry and clean to prevent wound infection.
However, Dr. Smaili warns that not every tummy tuck surgeon recommends the practice, adding that it should be only done by patients who are specifically instructed to do so.
In case the patient is not happy with the appearance of her navel, Dr. Smaili recommends waiting at least eight to 12 months before getting a revision surgery to give the skin enough time to shrink and redrape to the new contour.
A revision surgery involving the navel is often considered as a minor procedure performed in a doctor’s office and under local anesthesia.
It is important to note that the tummy tuck results can last a lifetime as long as the patient is able to maintain a healthy weight throughout her life.