The first documented abdominoplasty performed for aesthetic purposes dates back to 1890. As would be expected, it was a far less sophisticated procedure than is performed by plastic surgeons today. Over time, this early procedure was further expanded and refined, evolving into what we know as the “traditional” abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck”. The traditional abdominoplasty, which has been practiced for decades now, may still be the most frequently performed tummy tuck technique.
A Brief History of Abdominoplasty
With the introduction of body contouring with liposuction (lipoplasty) in the early 1980s, surgeons began combining this newer technique with abdominoplasty. This stimulated the development of variations on traditional surgical contouring of the abdomen. It was recognized that a good percentage of patients who might have undergone a traditional abdominoplasty in the past could, in fact, be treated with liposuction alone. For many other patients, a mini-abdominoplasty, or a procedure less extensive than the traditional approach, could be offered with selective and judicious use of liposuction. As plastic surgeons gain further experience, it was noted that for some patients it was best and safest to perform abdominal contouring in stages, performing abdominoplasty and liposuction in separate surgical sessions. In addition, surgeons learned that through suctioning the flanks and waist, the torso could be more effectively contoured and the final results of abdominoplasty significantly improved. All of these consideration require careful planning and a high degree of customization for each patient.
Today, plastic surgeons continue to refine their techniques of combining abdominoplasty with lipsuction. Current studies have focused on methos of preserving the delicate lymphatic vessels; this can allow more extensive liposuction to be safely carried out simultaneously with abdominoplasty, eliminating the need for postsurgical drains, and reduce the occurrence of seoma (fluid that can be trapped in a wound and may require surgical intervention). These potential refinements in abdominoplasty should continue to improve the already excellent results obtained from this procedure.