A Comprehensive Guide to Abdominal Wall Reconstruction
- 24 March 2014
Are you considering abdominal wall reconstruction in Miami, FL? If so, then it’s time that you educate yourself on what the surgery involves, what it means, what the benefits are, and everything else that you need to become familiar with before making a decision and moving ahead. In this guide, you’ll learn all of the important details on the process and what you can really expect.
What is Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Surgery?
Many prospective patients are confused when it comes to abdominal wall reconstruction. Is it the same thing as a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty? If not, how are they different, and when would one be chosen over another?
An abdominal wall reconstruction is in some ways a modification of a tummy tuck procedure. With abdominal wall reconstruction, a weakened or damaged abdominal wall is repaired and strengthened. The goals of this surgery are to improve the integrity of the abdominal wall, support the muscles and protect the body’s organs.
The abdominal muscles are rearranged to eliminate weakness, and mesh may be inserted to provide reinforcement and strength.
Although this type of surgery may be utilized in numerous circumstances stemming from injury and prevalence of other medical issues, it is also commonly performed for patients after bariatric surgery. One potential side effect of dramatic weight loss from bariatric surgery is hernias, and damage to the abdominal wall. As such, abdominal wall reconstruction may be performed in these instances.
The procedure may be combined with liposuction, hence providing the same “tummy tuck” outcome of removing excess fat and skin from this region. Removing extra fat and skin also helps to reduce the risk of strain on the abdominal wall, which could lead to problems such as hernias.
The abdominal wall may also be damaged during pregnancy, which is another common reason patients undergo tummy tucks as well.
Types of Surgeries and Options
Since the abdominal wall reconstruction and the tummy tuck are often confused, but are closely related, it’s important to analyze the various types of all of these procedures so you can clearly see the differences.
Abdominal Wall Reconstruction: With an abdominal wall reconstruction, the abdominal muscles are rearranged and repaired to compensate for and remove weakness, defect, tears or other damage. Mesh may or may not be used to provide strength and reinforcement. It reduces the likelihood of further problems, but carries an added risk of infection. Liposuction may also be performed to remove excess fat, and in some cases, excess hanging flaps of skin may also be performed.
Full Abdominoplasty(tummy tuck): A full abdominoplasty incorporates two incisions, one horizontally on the lower abdomen, and the other around the navel. Excess skin and fat are both removed, muscles are tightened, and remaining skin is stretched to cover the removed areas. A full abdominoplasty is commonly performed for patients who have gone through extreme weight loss via bariatric surgery.
Mini Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck): Smaller in scale, a single incision is made horizontally on the very lower side of your stomach. Excess skin and fat is removed, and muscles are tightened. This is not as common for bariatric surgery patients, as there is typically much more substantial amounts of excess skin remaining to be removed.
Extended Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck): Also known as a high lateral tension abdominoplasty, this variation of the procedure includes removing excess skin and fat from the hips and/or love handles. This procedure also offers benefits from lifting the hip and high, and involves deeper tissue to support and maintain the procedure than a regular tummy tuck.
Top Reasons To Receive Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Surgery
You have suffered from medium or massive hernias, have had wounds after intraabdominal surgery, or have other problems with the abdominal wall and surrounding musculature, abdominal reconstruction corrects the problem and prevents reoccurences.
After losing dramatic amounts of weight from bariatric surgery, you have a great deal of excess skin and fat hanging from your abdomen. Having abdominal wall reconstruction surgery removes risk factors and prevalence of hernias and other issues, while offering great aesthetic improvements, and boosts to your self confidence and body image.
Excess hanging skin around the stomach and abdomen may also lead to hygiene and health problems, rashes and infections, and other medical issues.
After removing excess skin from the abdomen, you can wear tighter fitter clothing, enjoy improved mobility and range of motion, and finally feel comfortable.
Abdominal wall reconstruction after bariatric surgery is a great way to enjoy the new you, and the outcomes of your procedure. Many patients are unhappy after losing so much weight due to all of the excess skin which remains, and this type of procedure alleviates that problem while also offering reduced chance of other co-related health issues such as hernias.
Steps Involved in the Surgery
During an abdominal wall reconstruction, the abdominal muscles are rearranged and reinforced to prevent reoccurring hernias or other problems, and eliminate defect. Biologic mesh consisting of animal tissue, or synthetic mesh, may be utilized to reinforce the abdominal muscles. Whether or not mesh is utilized and of what type is typically handled on a case by case basis, although different surgeons have their own preferences.
General anesthesia is used on patients, and the surgery may take anywhere from two to six hours. This is an inpatient procedure and a hospital stay may range from one to three nights following the surgery to allow for full recovery.
The incision is made above the pubic area, on the lower end of your abdomen, and goes across from hip to hip. After the muscles are tightened, and/or rearranged or reinforced, liposuction may also be performed and excess skin may also be removed.
After the surgery, you will need to wear a support or compression garment around your stomach for up to several weeks. It could take up to two or four weeks before you’re able to resume normal activity including working, and another several weeks after that before regular types of exercise can be resumed.
Keep in mind, the steps involved with abdominal wall reconstruction versus abdominoplasty surgery are different, as are the steps with different forms of tummy tuck procedures. Be sure to consult with your surgeon to understand which type of procedure you’re having performed, why, and what it entails.
Are There any Complications or Risks Involved?
Abdominal wall reconstruction is a fairly major surgery. It requires extensive recovery, and it contains the same risk factors of all surgeries and the usage of anesthesia. Other risks include excessive bleeding, wounds and infections, seromas which are a buildup of fluid under the skin, and so forth.
There’s also the potential of nerve injury and loss of sensation. Generally, sensation returns to patients over a period of weeks or months, up to a year. However, in some instances there is permanent sensation loss due to nerve damage.
Smoking and drinking are both factors which add to the risk of complication. Most surgeons require you to abstain from both, potentially for several weeks or longer, before surgery.
It’s important to be at a stable weight before undergoing abdominal reconstruction, unless it is a medical emergency which needs to be quickly initiated. For patients undergoing this procedure after bariatric surgery, at least 12 to 18 months is recommended.
Women who still plan on becoming pregnant are generally not recommended to undergo abdominal wall reconstruction unless it is immediately necessary.
Recovery time and effects on lifestyle over the weeks and months following this procedure are substantial. The surgery requires significant at-home post-operative care and rest, and will be painful.
Abdominal wall reconstruction may also result in scarring. When possible, the incisions and scarring are kept visually minimized in areas which would be covered by clothing such as bathing suits.
Keep in mind that abdominal wall reconstruction is a permanent solution in terms of repairing muscle problems and weaknesses. However, the effects of liposuction and tightening skin are not entirely permanent. As time goes on, age and gravity and other factors and changes to your body will have an effect on how you appear physically, as they would normally.
How to Choose a Surgeon or Clinic?
Choosing the right surgeon and clinic for your procedure is of paramount importance. The experience, expertise, skill and training of your surgeon should all be carefully evaluated.
That has in some ways been made easier than ever thanks to easily found online ratings and reviews, background information on a surgeon and clinic, and more. Still, a referral from a trusted physician or surgeon is always a great place to start when searching for someone to perform abdominal wall reconstruction in Miami, FL.
Many surgeons only offer abdominoplasty and not necessarily abdominal wall reconstruction. It’s important to find a surgeon who is specifically well-versed in this type of surgery so as to ensure the best results and a positive, long-lasting outcome.
Another aspect which goes into your decision will be the comfort you have with your surgeon and his or her team. You want to be fully confident and trusting of the individuals you choose to work with, and you should feel as if you’re on board with them completely. You need to be able to speak honestly with them, receive real feedback, ask important questions, and more.
You should also look into a clinic’s overall success and satisfaction rate, the total number of surgeries they have performed, how they minimize complications and risks, the type of post-operative care you receive, and pre-operative planning and testing, and so forth.
Ultimately, you want to be able to create a plan together with your surgeon which incorporates any health issues which need to be resolved, along with your desired outcomes in terms of physical appearance.
Not every surgeon, and not every type of surgery or solution, is correct for each patient. Do not be afraid to “shop around” by consulting with multiple clinics until finding the one who’s the best choice for you.
Cost of Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Surgery
In 2012, there was a national average price tag of $5,419 for a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty. This will be similar to the cost of a abdominal wall reconstruction surgery, however, the specific average cost of that procedure was not available.
Keep in mind, this figure represents only the surgeon fees. It does not include anesthesia, medical testing, post-operative care and follow-up, hospital stays, and so forth. Therefore, the total final cost will be quite substantially higher than the figure presented above.
It’s also essential to note that a basic tummy tuck is an elective, or cosmetic, surgery. This will generally not be covered by insurance companies.
However, abdominal wall reconstruction surgery is typically classified as a medically essential procedure. There are different circumstances involved, such as the presence of one or more hernias, their severity, other related medical issues, and so forth. With that said, an abdominal wall reconstruction typically is covered by insurance.
Therefore, you need to be sure of what type of procedure you’re having performed, why it is or isn’t medically necessary or essential, and what the costs and insurance coverage will be. Many clinics also offer payment plans or other financing options when surgery is not covered, or only partially covered, by insurance.
Don’t shortchange yourself by choosing a cheaper or “budget” option as you’re searching for a surgeon to perform abdominal wall reconstruction surgery in Miami, FL. You never want to increase risks or negative outcomes. Choose experience, expertise and high quality service providers, don’t make a decision based upon final price.
Also, remember that costs will vary from one part of the country to another. The figure cited above is a national average and will fluctuate largely in different locations.
The Bottom Line
Abdominal wall reconstruction combines the important medical benefits of eliminating hernias and related health issues following bariatric surgery, with improved aesthetics and physical appearance, boosts to your self-confidence and body image, and more. Be sure that you understand the difference of an abdominal reconstruction and an abdominoplasty.