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Skin and muscle, once stretched by fluctuations in weight, seldom contract as much as wed like. Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes stretched skin from the abdomen. Also known as a tummy tuck, the operation usually includes tightening severely stretched abdominal muscles, from the pubis to the breastbone, and repositioning the umbilicus (belly button).

Diastasis recti is the medical term describing the separation of the attachment between the rectus abdominus muscles. (The rectus abdominus muscles, or abs, run vertically producing the six-pack appearance in athletes.) Separation of the rectus muscles gives the abdomen a rounded or protuberant appearance. Because the rectus muscles are joined by inelastic connective tissue, no amount of exercise will bring them back to their original position. Similarly, no amount of exercise will totally restore lost skin tone.

While a sensible diet and exercise program are good for everyone, there are some things that diet and exercise cannot achieve. If you are close to your diet and exercise goals and still lack the definition you desire, see if abdominoplasty is right for you.

In an abdominoplasty, a transverse incision is made just above the pubic area, running from hipbone to hipbone, following a lazy W pattern. A second incision is made around the navel to loosen it from surrounding tissue but leaving it attached at its base. The abdominal skin is lifted to expose the rectus abdominus muscles. The separated muscles are pulled together and sutured in place from pubis to sternum (breastbone). This muscle tightening re-creates your internal girdle, thus narrowing the waistline.

The skin flap is then re-draped across these newly repaired muscles and the apron of excess skin and fat is removed. Your navel is repositioned and, if necessary, reshaped. Finally, the incisions are sutured and dressings applied. A temporary tube may be inserted in each side, beneath the skin, to drain excess fluid from the surgical site. Most patients return to a desk job two weeks after an abdominoplasty.

A stretched abdomen can be the source of frustration for even the most avid exercise enthusiast. When diet and exercise do not seem to be enough, you may want to consider abdominoplasty.

There are several alternatives to abdominoplasty for abdominal contouring. Refer to the sections on Abdominal Liposuction, Limited Liposuction, Mini-Abdominoplasty, and Panniculectomy to learn more.

See also
> Mini-Abdominoplasty, Mini-Tummy Tuck
> Liposuction � Abs & Flanks
> Limited Liposuction � Abdomen & Flanks
> Panniculectomy


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