Dr. Lane F. Smith, MD, Las Vegas owns and operates the bustling Smith Plastic Surgery Center in Las Vegas. Dr. Smith is formally trained at Stanford and the world renowned Mayo Clinic. He performs a full range of cosmetic procedures including breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, facelifts, eyelid lifts, buttocks implants and most other cosmetic procedures.
Because of his reputation as an authority in his field, Dr. Smith is frequently asked to speak and lecture at medical conferences. He has written several articles and has been published in many prestigious medical journals. He has also been the recipient of numerous medical awards.
Dr. Smith boasts the unique accomplishment of being one of the few plastic surgeons is the country that is quadruple board certified. His compassionate manner and artistic touch is what his patients feel sets him apart from other plastic surgeons.
Today we are focusing in on the Tummy Tuck. This is a procedure that is popular with post pregnancy women and those who have experienced massive weight loss. We asked Dr. Smith to provide some insight into the procedure and just what it involves.
Dr. Smith, could you explain the Tummy Tuck procedure and exactly how it is performed?
Doctor Smith: A Tummy Tuck procedure is performed by making a low incision in the abdomen and going all the way down through the skin and fat to the layer of the muscle.
At this level we then proceed upward all the way up to the bottom of the rib cage lifting up the skin and fat in one big giant flap. The skin and fat is then pulled down and the extra is trimmed and removed.
In my case we do a little special procedure where then at this point we liposuction and we take the tummy muscles that have been loosened and tighten the tummy muscles. The final incision or the final scar lies low and is hidden in the bikini line.
Who is the ideal candidate for this procedure? Who might benefit the most?
Dr. Smith: The ideal candidate for the Tummy Tuck are either women who have had children or people male or female who have had massive weight loss. The best candidate is someone who’s had children or the individual who has lost a large amount of weight and is left with their loose hanging skin.
Is this an effective way to remove persistent stretch marks in the abdominal area?
Dr. Smith: An actual Tummy Tuck or abdominoplasty is the only way to remove the stretch marks in the abdominal area. People will try to sell you skin crème and claim that lasers will do things but the truth is all that lasers can do is change the color.
If the stretch marks are a little red they can fade them. If they are a little brown they can fade them. But it won’t remove them. If you want to remove them you have to cut them out and throw them away. It’s the only way we can remove stretch marks.
How much recovery time is required in a procedure such as this?
Dr. Smith: That really depends on the patient. Most patients go back to work after about ten days. Women say it feels a lot like a C Section in terms of the amount of pain and discomfort they have. We ask patients not to exercise three to four weeks after a Tummy Tuck procedure.
You are one of the few surgeons in the country that performs the Tummy Tuck procedure in conjunction with another procedure. Can you expand on that?
Dr. Smith: Most surgeons will not perform a Tummy Tuck and liposuction on the abdomen at the same time. I developed a technique whereby certain perforated blood vessels are spared. This gives additional blood supply to the abdominal flap allowing us to do a liposuction that is safe without killing the skin.
The thought is that if you liposuction that lifted up skin and fat you will kill the skin. That has been true in the past. If these perforator vessels are spared you can liposuction pretty aggressively without that happening.
I presented this at The California Plastic Surgery Society meeting. I turned in a paper to The Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal regarding this. We’ve done more than four to five hundred surgeries this way without ever having the skin killed.
It is a safe procedure but this approach allows us better results and be more aggressive in one surgery. Surgeons in the past would divide this into two surgeries.
What are some of the most common misconceptions you come across regarding the Tummy Tuck procedure?
Dr. Smith: The most common misconception patients have is they want to come in and have a mini-tummy tuck. It’s a much smaller incision and most of them are not candidates for that. To be a candidate for a mini-tummy tuck you have to have almost no stretch marks and only a little bit of loose skin.
The other common misconception is in regard to the scar from the surgery. It does leave a long scar along the lower abdomen but if you take really good care of the scar and the surgeon closes it in a very special fashion like we do then the scar can be essentially invisible.
The difference is you can make a trade. The stretch marks are scars. So you’re trading thirty or forty stretch marks that don’t hide in a bikini for one scar that does hide in a bikini. It’s a good trade. Sometimes patients who choose lesser procedures end up being not as happy.
Doctor Smith, what is the biggest consideration a potential patient should make when deciding if the Tummy Tuck procedure is right for them?
Dr. Smith: The biggest and most important consideration is that they are generally in good health. We don’t want to do a Tummy Tuck on someone who is in poor health. This does not mean they have to be running or jogging or anything like that but we don’t want to do the procedure on someone with a heart condition, for example. We want them to be in generally good health.
If they are in good health this is a safe procedure. Actually safer than a C-Section. Again, we don’t want to do it unless the patient is in reasonably good health.
Thank you, Doctor Smith for providing us with important information for those considering the Tummy Tuck procedure.
Dr. Smith: You’re very welcome.
Dr. Lane F. Smith, MD, Smith Plastic Surgery Center, Las Vegas can be contacted directly at 702-838-2455. His business website is smithsurgery.com.