Commonly known as a “tummy tuck,” an abdominoplasty takes the skin on your stomach and tightens it, eliminating any excess sagging tissue. The techniques used for securing the skin afterward can have a drastic impact on healing, with newer techniques making the process much simpler and quicker for the patient.
Progressive tension suturing—or the PTS technique developed by Dr. Harlan Pollock—solves a lot of the problems which arise from traditional abdominoplasty surgeries, by applying simple surgical principles.
To understand how the PTS technique shortens recovery, let’s take a moment and look at the traditional method. Once the flap of skin is tightened, it’s secured in place with sutures at the point of incision. This leaves a lot of dead space, or area where the outer flap of skin isn’t secured to anything.
This can be problematic. The amount of dead space leaves plenty of room for fluid to accumulate, resulting in seromas. In addition, the outer flap may detach—think of how a bed sheet would sag from a bed if you were to suspend it upside down—from the lower layers, essentially frustrating early healing and leading to inflammation and fluid buildup.
With the PTS technique, you avoid the problems associated with traditional methods. This technique secures the outer flap of skin to the lower layers with regular suturing; sort of the way buttons on an old cushion keeps the outer cloth layer attached to the stuffing inside.
These sutures help preserve tension while also keeping the outer and inner layers in contact, expediting healing. In addition, you have less dead space, meaning seromas are far less likely to develop. For this reason, an abdominoplasty with progressive tension sutures is often referred to as a drainless tummy tuck since there is no fluid to drain. Also, this allows healing to occur uninterrupted since it prevents shearing or separation of the outer skin flap from the inner tissue layers.