The Surgeon Minute

The “New” Tummy Tuck – Better Results and Less Pain!

The “New” Tummy Tuck – Better Results and Less Pain!

Pregnancy brings one of the most beautiful things in life: life itself! Unfortunately with the good comes a bit of bad, as many women who suffer from severe stretch marks and weak abdomens will tell you. Modern medicine and refined techniques continue to make the abdominoplasty procedure (commonly known as a tummy tuck) better and better, relieving women of the trauma pregnancy dealt to their abdomens. Dr. Kevin Smith, a board certified plastic surgeon from Charlotte, is one such expert employing a variety of new techniques and medications to not only achieve better results, but gets women back on the feet much faster.

By Kevin L. Smith, MD
and Adam McMillon

wp2Repairing a damaged abdomen; it’s more than just stretch marks!

Time and time again a tummy tuck is thought of in the public sphere as an unnecessary operation; why don’t women just work out harder if they want a better looking stomach? This misconception revolves around the idea that crunches will shore up your stomach, even though the inherent problem is that the muscles have been stretched so far that they will never go back to where they used to be.

“Abdominoplasty is a great operation because so many woman work hard in the gym, watch their diets, and do sit ups until the cows come home, but they can’t fix that stretch from having children,” says Dr. Smith. “What happens when women have children is the skin stretches to accommodate the baby and the abdominal muscles stretch. Our bodies are more like plastic than rubber! Rubber will shrink back to where it started. When plastic stretches, it sorta comes back, but you can’t quite get it back to where it once was.”

Embracing new technology to make a tummy tuck more accessible

Dr. Smith employs two new advances to make what used to be a fairly painful surgery and recovery far less uncomfortable. “Technically, there have been some great new advances in abdominoplasty surgery,” says Smith. “I now use a technique called the progressive tension suture technique that allows me to lift up the skin, pull it down and cut off the extra, but instead of just letting that skin float on top of the muscles, I actually sew the skin back down to the muscles as I go. The advantage is, I don’t have to put in those drain tubes that everyone hates. It’s really worked nicely and is one less encumbrance that patients have to deal with.”

The second advance that Dr. Smith utilizes is a new formulation of an old drug called Exparel. “Exparel is a long acting marcaine product that we inject into the muscles and incisions during surgery. It’s taken what used to be a very painful operation to one that’s quite easy! Our average patient who’s had Exparel takes 60% less narcotics than patients did before we started using it.”



“Patients are moving around better and they come in and say, ‘My abdominoplasty was so much easier than my c-section!’ I think a lot women can understand that. It allows us to speed up the recovery process, decrease the possibility of complications from inactivity and patients have a better state of well being. It’s not quite so scary as it used to be.”

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