The C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck was developed by plastic surgeon Dr. Francesco Campanile and is available exclusively through his plastic surgery practice in Denver, Colorado. This innovative variation of the traditional tummy tuck combines techniques from Italy, Brazil and the U.S. for more refined results along with a smoother and shorter recovery.
The C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck is sometimes called a “drain-less” or “no-drain” tummy tuck. As those names imply, this procedure is done without the use of post-surgical drains. If you are considering a tummy tuck, use this guide to help you understand the advantages of a C.L.A.S.S.® drain-free tummy tuck. We’ll answer all your drain-less tummy tuck questions and hopefully clear up some tummy tuck myths along the way.
C.L.A.S.S.® stands for Combined Lipo-Abdominoplasty Sculpting & Shaping.
There are many reasons someone might want to have a tummy tuck. Sagging skin can be genetic, or can occur over time as a result of natural aging. Loose abdominal skin is particularly common among women who have been pregnant and people who have had a major weight loss. Tummy rolls can cause clothes to fit improperly and can make a person look overweight even if they are not. Many people who have had a tummy tuck report a big boost in self-confidence afterward. There are some common factors that could make you a good candidate for a tummy tuck:
- You are in good general health and do not have any uncontrolled medical conditions
- You have loose or excess skin around the abdominal area
- You are unhappy with the way your belly looks
- You have a bulging stomach due to separated abdominal muscles
- You have realistic expectations about what a tummy tuck can achieve
Each C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck is a unique, individualized procedure tailored to a specific person’s body and goals.
During a traditional tummy tuck, a plastic surgeon tightens the muscles of the abdomen while removing loose skin. These things also happen during a C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck. However, a C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck includes the use of liposuction around the abdomen and flanks. This allows access to areas that would be difficult or impossible to reach using traditional tummy tuck methods. Adding liposuction to your tummy tuck also allows a plastic surgeon to more delicately and precisely sculpt your abdomen. Once the excess fat and skin have been removed, your incision will be closed with specialized sutures. These sutures, called progressive tension sutures, are a big part of how tummy tucks are accomplished without drains. Research shows that fluid buildup, or seroma, is significantly less common among tummy tuck patients whose incisions were closed with progressive tension sutures.
With a traditional abdominoplasty, a space is left between the abdominal wall and the overlying skin and fat (sometimes called the abdominal flap). Naturally, the body produces fluid which accumulates in this space. Drains are used to collect the excess fluid. When the incision is closed using progressive tension sutures, this gap is eliminated along with the need for drains.
There are many reasons more doctors are moving away from “old fashioned” tummy tuck methods and going drain-less. Drains can be cumbersome and difficult to care for. In fact, one of the most common complaints among people who have had a tummy tuck is that dealing with the drains during recovery is unpleasant.
The move toward drain-free tummy tucks seems inevitable as abdominoplasty technology and techniques evolve.
Keeping surgical drains clean and functioning properly can be frustrating at best, especially while you are trying to relax and recuperate. In addition, drains can increase the risk of certain complications such as infections:
- Tubes can get caught on things and even get pulled out by accident.
- The tubes can lose suction due to a poor connection, a hole or a crack in the tubing.
- Tubes and drains can leak.
- Many people experience pain at the drain insertion sites.
- People with drains have significant restriction of their range of motion.
- If any issues do occur, the drains may have to be removed and replaced, which slows down the healing process. There is even a chance that indentations can occur at the drain sites that could then require scar revision surgery to correct.
There are some benefits a drain-less tummy tuck offers vs. a traditional tummy tuck:
- Faster healing
- Less pain
- Better mobility during recovery
- Decreased risk of infection and other complications
At your consultation, you’ll be examined and interviewed to determine whether you are a good candidate for a tummy tuck. A consultation is also your opportunity to decide whether a plastic surgeon is the right fit for you, so don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. If you come in for a C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck consultation, Dr. Campanile will listen to your goals and concerns and help you understand your options. You will be able to look at before and after photos of people who have had a C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck. If you decide that the procedure is right for you, he will work to craft a surgical plan that is made-to-order for your unique anatomy and your personal goals.
Having a tummy tuck will not prevent you from becoming pregnant. However, it is generally recommended to wait until you are done having children before getting a tummy tuck. This is because a pregnancy (or even major weight gain) will likely compromise your results. After a tummy tuck, your skin may not have the capacity to stretch as far as it would have before. Your body goes through a lot during pregnancy. If you have recently given birth, it’s important to give your body time to normalize before having any plastic surgery procedures.
The recovery from a C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck tends to be faster than the recovery from a traditional tummy tuck. You can expect to feel sore and have limited mobility in the first few weeks after having a tummy tuck. After this period, most people slowly resume their normal activities. You will need to wear a compression garment during the initial stages of healing. Most people can return to work within 2-3 weeks after having a tummy tuck.8 Of course, your tummy tuck recovery timeline can vary depending on your preferences as well as the type of work you do. You’ll probably have to continue avoiding strenuous activities and heavy lifting for several more weeks after you go back to work. Follow all of your plastic surgeon’s guidelines to help you heal faster after your tummy tuck and to enjoy a more comfortable recovery period.
Once you make the decision to go ahead with a tummy tuck, it’s time to get ready. The more preparation you do beforehand, the smoother your recovery is likely to be. It’s a good idea to make a tummy tuck prep checklist early on to help you keep track of everything you need to buy and do before the big day.
Preparing your body:
- Eat right. As you count down to your surgery date, it’s important to eat a healthy diet so that your body is strong and healthy. Focus on foods that are high in nutrition and low in sugar, sodium and saturated fats. Fight the temptation to stop for fast food or sugary treats during the day. Instead, pack salads and other healthy meals with you. If you enjoy soft drinks, it’s time to cut down. Better yet, quit. Soda wreaks all kinds of havoc on our bodies and is counterproductive to any weight loss efforts you make.
- Cut bad habits out of your life. Smoking and surgery don’t mix. If you smoke, you will be advised to quit during the weeks leading up to and right after your surgery. This is because nicotine causes blood vessel constriction, increases the risk for surgical complications and can slow the healing process. Additionally, you shouldn’t drink any alcohol right before or after your surgery. Be aware of any interactions that could occur between alcohol and prescription pain medications you may take during your recovery. Talking to your plastic surgeon about these things is very important, so be forthcoming about your lifestyle habits for your own health and safety.
- Maintain a steady weight. If you’ve recently lost weight, it’s best to wait for several months to be sure that your weight has stabilized before having a tummy tuck. If you gain weight after having abdominoplasty, it will most likely affect the results.
- Arrange for time off work. Do this as far ahead of time as possible so you can be sure to have plenty of time to rest and recuperate after your surgery.
- Recruit helpers. You will need someone to drive you home after surgery, and to stay with you for 24 hours afterward. Beyond that, you’ll need help around the house at least during the initial stages of your recovery. Talk to your spouse or another family member or a friend about helping out. Make arrangements for help with child care and with any other obligations or appointments you may have during your recovery time. If you don’t have anyone who is available to help, consider hiring a nurse or aide.
- Clean up and get organized. Make sure your recovery space is clean, comfortable and relaxing. If you’ll be recuperating at home, spruce up and de-clutter before your tummy tuck. Make sure you have lots of pillows and blankets and that you’ll be able to get around easily. Your upcoming surgery date can be a great inspiration to finish up any unfinished projects around the house.
- Stock up. Go shopping before your surgery and get all the things you’ll need for your recovery. Pick up any gauze, bandages or medications you might need. Have ice packs ready and consider getting some stool softener or a gentle laxative since pain medications can constipate you. Stock up on healthy snacks and meals so you can give your body what it needs to heal. Make sure you have plenty of distractions to keep you from getting bored as you rest. Keep your digital devices stocked with movies or podcasts and have magazines or books close at hand.
Your final results won’t show up overnight, but your patience will pay off.
What you look like in the days and weeks after surgery is much different than what your final results will look like. It’s normal to have swelling, which can take up to 6 months to resolve. During this time, your regular clothes probably won’t fit and you may feel as if you look worse than you did before. You may even gain a little weight as a result of the swelling, so it’s a good idea to just forget about the scale and focus on taking good care of yourself while you heal.
While a C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck can help you achieve a slimmer and more sculpted figure, no body contouring procedure is designed to help you lose weight. You should be at a healthy weight that is comfortable for you to maintain before having a tummy tuck. For many people who have lost weight, a tummy tuck is an important step in their journey toward achieving their body goals. Fat deposits and excess abdominal skin can take the wind out of your sails after working hard to reach your target weight. A tummy tuck combined with liposuction can reshape your abdomen, and these results are not contingent on a certain number of pounds on the scale. Also, many people find that having a tummy tuck helps motivate them to keep the weight off.
You will have a scar any place an incision is made. An experienced plastic surgeon will place your tummy tuck incision as inconspicuously as possible. The incision for a tummy tuck is generally made very low on your navel where it should be covered by your underwear or bathing suit. During the initial stages of healing, it’s normal to experience swelling along your incision site. You may also have some discomfort and itching as your incision heals.
Follow any instructions you are given regarding incision and scar care. If you take care of your tummy tuck scar, it will heal better and faster. Avoid exposing your incision to direct sun, as this can cause your scar to darken. With proper care and a bit of patience, your scar should fade over time.
Fatty deposits removed during your C.L.A.S.S.® tummy tuck can’t come back. However, the longevity of your results has a lot to do with you. You are ultimately responsible for maintaining your new look over time:
- Continue eating a healthy, balanced diet long after you’ve recovered from surgery. If you gain enough weight, your beautiful tummy tuck results will certainly suffer and you may even end up needing a tummy tuck revision. Eat lots of veggies and whole grains, and stay away from fast food, fried food and processed foods.
- Keep up a good exercise regimen. Just like eating right, working out is an intrinsic part of keeping your tummy tuck results looking great throughout the years. When you don’t feel like working out, think of the investment you have made in yourself to help provide motivation. A qualified personal trainer can help you develop a workout routine and even a nutrition plan that will work best to help you stay fit.
- Show off your results. Don’t hide your tummy tuck results underneath baggy, ill-fitting clothes. When you fully enjoy the benefits of having slimmer figure, there’s a much better chance that you’ll work to keep it. Invest in new clothes to flatter your figure. Don’t forget about the rest of you, either. Many people find that getting a tummy tuck can be the perfect impetus to adopt a more polished look all over.
*This information is for education only, and is not meant as a guarantee of results. Your results may vary.