A tummy tuck, known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure to remove the excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen in order to reshape the abdomen.
Why have a tummy tuck?
Abdominoplasty/ Tummy Tuck is performed to reshape the lower abdomen. It is used to reduce the bulging and overhang of the lower abdomen following pregnancy or weight loss.
Pregnancy, especially multiple and twin births can weaken the abdominal muscles. Tummy tuck surgery can remove the excess skin and fat and tighten the muscles to achieve a flatter, firmer abdomen.
The improvement in body shape can boost your self confidence and comfort enabling you to exercise effectively to maintain a good body weight and shape and to wear the clothes you want and boost your self-esteem.
Abdominoplasty surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and unfortunately, it is necessary to have a long scar as a result of the procedure, which is situated along the bikini line, just above the pubic area, from hip to hip. Skin and fat are removed, up to the umbilicus (tummy button) where a second incision is made around the umbilicus. Skin, fat and layers of tissue are then lifted away from the abdominal muscles, leaving the umbilicus on a stalk, all the way up to beneath the rib cage. The exposed muscles are then tightened as necessary by stitching them together creating a firmer abdominal wall. The skin and fat which has been lifted is then stretched downwards towards the initial incision and any extra tissue is removed. A hole is then made in order for the umbilicus, which has been left on a stalk, to pop through and the original incision is then stitched closed.
With a ‘mini tuck’ technique the skin is separated only between the lower incision line just above the pubic region, and an area just below the umbilicus. The umbilicus is left in place without the need for a further incision.
How long do I stay in hospital?
An abdominoplasty necessitates a 1- 2 night hospital stay and the surgery itself takes approximately 2½ hours to perform.
What can I expect afterwards?
Once you’ve woken up from your anaesthetic, you will notice a compression garment around your abdomen. This is to provide compression of the surgical site to reduce the postoperative swelling and bleeding. You will also be aware of 2 drains which are usually placed under the skin to evacuate any fluid build-up following your surgery. These usually come out the following day although in some cases there is increased drainage and these may need to stay in for an extra day.
You will find that the abdominal area will be quite uncomfortable and that you will have 1-2 pillows placed behind your knees in order to keep these bent in order to reduce the tension in your abdominal muscles. For the first few days following your surgery you will need to walk slightly stooped once you are up and about. You will gradually begin straighten up after this time. All stitches used for this procedure are dissolving and therefore there is no need for any stitch removal.
Please be aware that there will be considerable swelling and some bruising of the abdomen following your surgery. The bruising usually lasts about 2-3 weeks. Most of the obvious swelling will also have subsided during this time although subtle swelling may still be present for up to 6 months.
What are the long-term results?
The results of tummy tuck surgery are expected to be permanent. However should you gain weight following your surgery, the results of your surgery will not be optimal. Therefore following a healthy lifestyle including eating a well balanced diet and taking regular exercise is recommended.
What are the risks?
With any surgical procedure there are always associated risks. However, if your surgery is undertaken by a qualified plastic surgeon the risks are reduced, nonetheless, specific complications with this procedure can and do occur. Such as the risk of infection which is reduced by taking preventative measures such as administering antibiotics both at the time of and following your surgery. However despite these measures mild infection is relatively common and can occur around the incision site, but usually subsides over a period of about 2 weeks.
Very rarely, increased bleeding occurs which can lead to more significant swelling and the development of a haematoma (a collection of blood under the skin). Were this were to happen, surgical drainage to evacuate this would be required. Ultimately this should not affect the final outcome.
Another possible complication is the formation of a collection of fluid called a ‘seroma’, which sometimes needs aspiration. This fluid is clear and yellow in colour and is seen as a swelling in the lower abdominal region.
It is important for you to examine the reasons for undergoing a cosmetic surgery procedure as it is unlikely to resolve any life issues you may have. Having surgery for someone else is not the basis from which to make a decision. Cosmetic surgery will certainly boost your self esteem but you do need to be realistic about your expectations. Cosmetic surgery will lead to marked improvements but you also need to be aware that the end result of your surgery can and does take time and you need to allow your body time to recover.
Our aim is to fully understand your concerns and desires before agreeing on a treatment plan which is in your best interest. At consultation your consultant surgeon will explain your treatment fully including any potential risks and complications. Your consultation surgeon will advise you of the best strategy to address all of your needs and will also explain all aspects of your post-operative care.
If you would like to speak to one of our consultant surgeons, Mr Alan Park or Mr Sudip Ghosh, please do not hesitate to telephone or fill out our online form.