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A New Approach to Tummy Tuck Surgery: An Interview with Plastic Surgeon Dr. Chris Patronella 

Posted December 31, 2014 in Tummy Tuck

By Sherri Roberts

 In  2012, plastic surgeon Dr. Chris Patronella launched a website dedicated to his signature approach to tummy tuck surgery, The True Form Tummy Tuck®, also referred to as the True Form Abdominoplasty®, because of the emphasis the surgeon places on redefining the abdomen’s subtle contours.

In this interview, Dr. Patronella discusses the features of his abdominoplasty method and the role that a growing area of his practice—tummy tuck revision surgery—played in his endeavor to create more ideal abdominoplasty results.

Houston plastic surgeon Dr. Chris Patronella developed the True Form Tummy Tuck® method to create more natural-looking tummy tuck results. This photo of his tummy tuck patient illustrates the key features of his approach, which includes abdominal and waist contouring, smooth transitions among all regions of the abdomen, and tightening of the abdominal muscle wall.

What led you to develop the True Form Tummy Tuck® method?

Dr. Patronella: As my practice evolved over the years, more and more patients came to me to correct previous tummy tucks procedures. I started to think about what technical errors in judgment led to the issues I was seeing, and in doing so, I applied the insights I gained from this to my own cases in order to avoid these same pitfalls of tummy tuck surgery.

What specific problems did you note?

 Dr. Patronella: Many of the women who came to me for revision surgery consultations felt that the tummy tuck results they’d received had an artificial appearance, though they often could not pinpoint exactly why. Their thoughts affirmed my own sense that, while the textbook traditional method of abdominoplasty succeeded in providing patients with a flat abdomen, it was an unnatural-appearing board-like flatness which lacked the contour nuances that can be seen on the natural abdomen.

Other issues I frequently encountered were the pubic hairline had been raised higher and the incision location was too elevated to be easily concealed, which eliminated many of the swimwear and clothing styles patients had looked forward to wearing. In the planning stages, the location of both of these elements should be a major consideration.

In addition, some patients were left with a “step-off”—an odd surgical look that is created when the tissue thickness above and below the incision line is uneven—and/or a shapeless waist that does not blend with the new toned and rejuvenated appearance of the abdomen after abdominoplasty.

These were some of the main concerns I sought to address through my efforts to perfect the standard tummy tuck, in addition to other details that make the difference in providing results that authentically capture the elegant beauty of the feminine abdomen versus those that appear surgically-created.

Tell me about the process you went through to achieve this goal.

Dr. Patronella: I evaluated photos of fit, attractive abdomens in order to identify the key features that characterized them and then attempted to recreate these by refining techniques I used for other parts of the body and incorporating them into the tummy tuck procedure. By redefining the abdomen’s subtle contour variations and creating smooth transitions—ensuring that a consistent skin tone and tissue thickness is maintained between the upper and lower abdomen and above and below the incision line—my goal is to create an abdominal appearance that, unless you see the scar, is indistinguishable from that of a healthy, youthful-looking abdomen.

What has been the reaction of your tummy tuck patients to the results they receive?

Dr. Patronella: They are thrilled and appreciative to have the beauty of their abdomens restored in a way that appears authentic to the way it did before pregnancy. In fact, many tell me that their bodies look even better than they did before having children.

Having done so many of these procedures over the years now, a tummy tuck that lacks the natural anatomical features is not only dissatisfying to patients but wholly unsatisfying to me.

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