Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure that can change the shape of the abdomen by removing excess loose skin and fat, and by tightening the underlying muscles.
Why choose tummy tuck surgery?
Tummy tuck surgery is one of the most rewarding and popular procedures available today and can help people achieve a flatter stomach, slimmer overall physique, and a feeling of rejuvenation. It is commonly performed in cases where abdominal skin and muscles have been significantly stretched, such as women who have recently given birth or a person who has gained and then lost a large amount of weight. The procedure can also correct Caesarean scars and reduce the effects of stretch marks.
Is an abdominoplasty right for me?
If you are considering having a tummy tuck procedure, it's essential that you contact an accredited and experienced surgeon for a full consultation. The surgeon will be able to assess your personal needs, and decide whether surgery is your best option. Ideally you should be close to your ideal weight, but it is understood that this is not always possible. The surgeon will discuss whether you should combine the procedure with liposuction, and the position of your scar. Sometimes the position of the scar can be slightly adjusted in light of your preferred form of clothing or underwear, but ultimately the final decision is restricted by your anatomy. The surgeon may also suggest non-surgical alternatives such as tummy tuck cream.
What is involved in the tummy tuck procedure?
There are two forms of tummy tuck surgery. UK surgeons will either perform a full tummy tuck or a partial tummy tuck (apronectomy). The surgery is normally performed under general anaesthetic, and the length varies depending on the patient's needs, but can often take up to three hours.
During a partial tummy tuck, your surgeon will make a large incision across the lower abdomen. He or she will then separate the skin from the abdominal wall and remove any excess fat. The surgeon will then cut away any excess skin before the remaining skin is pulled down to the first incision and stitched together.
In a full tummy tuck, your surgeon will make an incision across the abdomen, just above the pubic region, from hip bone to hip bone. A second incision is then made in order to free the belly button from surrounding tissue, and the skin is then separated from the abdominal wall. The muscles are then pulled down and stitched into the new position, and any fat deposits and excess skin are removed. A new hole is subsequently cut for the belly button, and it is stitched back in to place. Finally, your surgeon will pull the remaining skin down to the first incision and stitch them together.
What happens after the abdominoplasty operation?
After your tummy tuck surgery, drainage tubes are placed under the skin in order to collect any excess fluids. This will be removed after twenty-four to forty-eight hours, but the post-surgery dressing is usually kept in place for a week, and a special compression garment that aids healing is often required, which is worn for up to three weeks.
Abdominal discomfort and tightness may occur after abdominoplasty surgery, but can be controlled with painkillers—although aspirin should be avoided as it can promote bleeding. Swelling and bruising may also occur but will usually disappear within six weeks. Numbness is also known to occur in the lower abdomen, but sensation should return over time.
For a full tummy tuck recovery, you should avoid returning to work for around two weeks—longer if your job requires strenuous activity. It's important to rest fully and to make sure you don't put any strain on the affected area.
Rare tummy tuck complications can include:
- Blood clots
- Prominent scars
- Seroma (fluid collection)
- Skin necrosis (Skin death)
Infection can be treated with antibiotics and drainage, and a seroma can usually be drained by you surgeon using a fine needle. You can reduce the risk of blood clots by moving about as soon as you can after your operation.
More serious wound problems such as skin sloughing off, or liquefied fat draining from the incision, may require additional surgery to allow healing, sometimes utilising skin grafts.
It's important that you research the procedure you're interested in thoroughly before you make any final decisions regarding surgery. You should be completely happy and confident with your surgeon, and aware of the inherent risks and limitations of all surgery. Once you are fully prepared, you stand a good chance of achieving a pleasing outcome.