Abdominoplasty or a tummy tuck is a common cosmetic surgery procedure for women post childbirth (usually after multiple pregnancies) and for those who have lost a significant amount of weight, where they have been left with loose skin on their abdomen.
The operation surgically removes the excess skin and fat in the abdomen that has remained post pregnancy or weight loss. It can also be used to tighten abdominal muscles that have been stretched during pregnancy. The goal is to improve the overall appearance of the abdomen, to reduce or remove a skin apron that can cause emotional distress and discomfort in clothes or when moving.
A tummy tuck is not designed to be a weight loss procedure. It is suitable for people with a healthy body mass index (BMI) who have excess skin and fat in the abdomen that is resistant to diet and exercise. If you only have excess fat, without an apron of over hanging skin, you may be more suitable for a liposuction procedure.
The abdominoplasty procedure will either be a full or partial abdominoplasty depending on the extent of correction required to the abdomen.
For example, a partial abdominoplasty involves an incision across the lower abdomen, the removal of excess skin and fat below the belly button. The skin is then pulled together and suture in the new position.
A full abdominoplasty involves a larger incision, and another incision around the belly button so the skin around it is also free. The abdominal muscles can then be realigned and sutured into place, as well as the removal of excess skin and fat. Finally, a new hole is created in the skin as it is pulled into place to create a hole for the belly button. The skin and belly button is sutured in the new position.
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Treatment Summary at a glance
Pain, swelling, bruising, numbness, and tightness to the tummy.
Remove excess skin and fat in the abdomen.
After 4 weeks
How does it work?
Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that can be a partial or full tummy tuck.
It involves a surgical incision across the lower abdomen, including from hip to hip and around the belly button in a full procedure. This allows the surgeon to remove excess skin and fat from the stomach area, use sutures (stitches) to tighten up underlying abdominal muscles, reposition the belly button, and then close the incision with further sutures to create a tighter, flatter stomach appearance after removing unnecessary skin.
The surgeon will always try, where possible, to hide the scars low on the abdomen so they will not be visible when wearing underwear or swimwear.
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Your suitability for abdominoplasty will be assessed by our surgeon who will decide if you are the correct candidate for the procedure. A full medical history will also be taken to make sure that there are no contraindications for you to have the procedure, such as any medication that you may be taking, underlying medical conditions, or your wound healing history.
You will need to have a healthy BMI and not be overweight.
Pregnant, breast-feeding women, or those planning on future pregnancies are not suitable for a tummy tuck procedure.
The tummy tuck surgery will be performed using general anaesthesia so you will not feel the procedure.
The operation can take 2-4 hours to perform depending on a full or partial abdominoplasty procedure.
After the surgery, and once the anaesthesia has worn off, your abdomen will feel tender and tight. Some people do experience mild side effects because of the anaesthesia so you will be monitored before you are discharged from our care.
You will need to wear a post-surgical compression garment (like a corset) 24/7 in the 6 weeks following your surgery to reduce swelling, aid healing, and support the tissue as your incisions heal.
Depending on the timing of your surgery, you may leave to go home the same day or be required to stay overnight. This will be discussed during your consultation.
Pain, swelling, bruising, numbness, and tightness are common for the first week’s post-surgery. Any pain and discomfort post-surgery can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication or medicines prescribed by our surgeon. The numbness can persist for several months as nerves take longer to re-establish.
Your ability to move will be limited for several weeks, so you will need to take 4-6 weeks off work and reduce your normal activities. You should avoid strenuous exercise for at least 3 months, and be careful when sleeping, standing, and moving for the first 6 weeks to avoid over stretching your stitches. It is advised to avoid driving for up to 6 weeks too, partly due to the medical implications and discomfort from wearing a seatbelt, but also because it may invalidate your vehicle insurance. You will be given advice on the kind of activities and gentle exercises you can do after 6 weeks.
The full recovery from abdominoplasty surgery can take up to three months.
It will take time to heal and adjust to the results of a tummy tuck procedure. The extent of scarring across your lower tummy will depend on the type of procedure performed which may or may not include a scar around your belly button. These will heal and fade over time, and you will be given advice on creams to use to help reduce the appearance of the scars.
It is common for the stomach to feel tight for some time due to its new flatter, tighter appearance. Once the incisions have healed, you may still find it difficult to stand upright without experiencing a pulling sensation. This will improve over time and with gentle exercise.
Long-term, you will have a tighter, flatter abdomen, without an apron of excess skin. Results will be permanent, but you will need to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle to avoid future weight gain which could impact negatively on your results.
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