Abdominoplasty, or a “tummy tuck” is a procedure to correct a protruding belly which is a resulting of weak abdominal muscles, weight gain or due to pregnancy. Obesity causes the skin to lose its elasticity. Then diet or exercise doesn’t work if the skin and underlying muscles have been stretched.
There are several types of tummy tuck – the one you have depends on how much skin and fat you want removed. Your surgeon will explain which type is most suitable for you.
Surgical cuts will be made in your abdomen and above your bikini line. Your belly button will be cut from the surrounding skin. Your surgeon will pull stretched or torn muscles together and stitch them in place. He or she will remove excess fat, pull down the skin and trim off the excess. Your belly button will be repositioned. Cuts are closed with stitches and your lower abdomen will be firmly strapped with bandages. You will have a scar around your belly button and a long curved scar along your bikini line, which you can usually hide with your underwear.
The skin and fat below your belly button is removed, leaving a long curved scar along your bikini line.
Extended tummy tuck
Excess skin and fat from your abdomen and back is removed. You will have a scar around your belly button and a long curved scar along your bikini line and around your back
See answers to common questions about tummy tuck, including:
After having twins, my stomach isn’t toning up even though I exercise regularly. Will a tummy tuck help flatten my stomach?
A baggy lower abdomen is a common problem after having a baby. A tummy tuck operation involves removing excess fat and skin from your tummy and tightening your abdominal muscles. However, its best not to have a tummy tuck if you plan to have another baby because this will stretch your skin again. Yes, a tummy tuck can help tighten stretched skin and muscles in your lower abdomen after a pregnancy.
How do I know whether a tummy tuck is right for me?
You shouldn’t rush into a decision to have cosmetic surgery. Discuss your options with your GP, who may be able to recommend a reputable surgeon or give advice about how to choose which hospital to be treated in. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons provides a list of qualified cosmetic surgeons. Before opting for a tummy tuck, discuss with your surgeon what you are hoping to gain from the operation and the result you can realistically expect. There are serious risks associated with the procedure, such as bleeding, skin loss and infection. You need to consider these carefully when making your decision.
How much does a tummy tuck cost?
The package usually covers all the costs of your treatment, such as hospital charges, surgeon’s and anesthetist’s fees, and follow-up consultation. The costs vary from surgeon to surgeon and clinic to clinic. You will usually be given a fixed price after your initial consultation with a cosmetic surgeon. You should never base your decision on costs alone when deciding where to be treated. You should always consider the quality of your surgeon and the quality of the hospital or clinic when making your decision.
What to expect afterwards?
You will need to rest until the effects of the general anesthetic have passed. You may need pain relief to help with any discomfort as the anesthetic wears off. You may have a catheter to drain urine from your bladder into a bag. You may also have fine plastic tubes running out from under the wound. These drain fluids into another bag and are usually removed after a day or two.
You may have a drip in your arm to keep you hydrated. It’s usually removed when you can drink enough fluid. You may wear an elasticized garment to support your abdomen. Keep your knees bent when you are in bed to stop putting strain on your stitches. You may find it difficult to stand up straight at first.
It’s important to do deep breathing exercises to help to reduce the risk of getting a chest infection. Your surgeon or nurse can show you how to do these. Stitches will be removed after one or two weeks, or you may have dis solvable stitches. The amount of time your dis solvable stitches will take to disappear depends on the type of stitches you have. They usually disappear in around two to three weeks, but it can sometimes take longer.
Recovering from a tummy tuck?
Your surgeon will have given you painkillers. You can also take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Follow the instructions in the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine and ask your pharmacist for advice.
Sometimes dressings are needed for a few weeks. It’s not unusual to have some tightness around the healing wound. You will need to wear a support garment for one to six weeks.
You will be able to do light activities comfortably after around 10 days. Most people can return to work after two to four weeks, but don’t do any vigorous activity for at least six weeks. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions depending on the type of operation done.
What are the risks?
A tummy tuck is commonly performed and generally safe. However, in order to make an informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications.
Side-effects are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects you may get after having the procedure, for example feeling sick as a result of the general anesthetic.
Side-effects of a tummy tuck include:
pain and bruising for at least the first few days swelling – this may not completely settle for a few months scarring – this usually fades over the course of a year, but won’t completely disappear numbness of your tummy skin – the skin below your “new” tummy button will be numb for several months, but this numbness will gradually reduce as new nerves grow
Complications are when problems occur during or after the operation. Most people aren’t affected. The possible complications of any operation include an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, excessive bleeding or developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in the leg (deep vein thrombosis, DVT). This can move to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and be life-threatening. Specific complications of tummy tuck are uncommon, but can include:
this may need antibiotic treatment and sometimes surgery bleeding under your skin (haematoma) – this may need surgery to stop the bleeding and drain the area numbness – this is usually temporary, but can be permanent; in the early stages (three months) after a ‘standard’ abdominoplasty you will have numbness in the lower half of the tummy and you will need to take special care of the skin until sensation has returned unusually red or raised scars – these may take a long time to settle but your surgeon will recommend treatments to help The final position of your belly button may be off-centre, and there’s a small risk of losing your belly button completely.
It’s possible that you may not be completely satisfied with your appearance after the operation. The exact risks are specific to you and will differ for every person, so we have not included statistics here. Ask your surgeon to explain how these risks apply to you.