A tummy tuck may be helpful if you are concerned about loose skin and fat on your tummy. It can also tighten your abdominal muscles.
An abdominoplasty or ‘tummy tuck‘ is a procedure that will improve the shape of your tummy by removing excess tissue. You may be suitable for a tummy tuck if you are affected by the appearance of your stomach after weight loss or pregnancy. A tummy tuck can also help tidy up bulges or improve scars from caesarian section or hysterectomy.
An abdominoplasty is a major cosmetic surgery operation and takes around 2-3 hours to perform. You will need 4-6 weeks to recover fully. Satisfaction rates are high, and the best results are seen in patients who are at or near their ideal weight.
The procedure is often combined with the tightening of the abdominal muscles (especially if there have been previous pregnancies) and with liposuction (to reduce fullness in the flanks and upper abdomen).
How do I know if I am suitable for an abdominoplasty?
You might be suitable for a tummy tuck if you are close to your ideal weight, yet still, have excessive abdominal skin or bulging which you can’t lose. A decision to undergo an abdominoplasty procedure will ultimately have to be made after careful consultation with your plastic surgeon.
Will an abdominoplasty remove the stretch marks on my tummy?”
The short answer is yes and no. If your stretch marks are below your belly button, then a tummy tuck will get rid of them as this skin is removed as part of the operation. Any stretch marks above your belly button will be pulled down when your wound is pulled together and may be stretched further. The stretch marks can, however, end up looking smoother and flatter.
What are the different types of tummy tuck procedure?
There are three types of tummy tuck procedure:
They all involve removing variable amounts of skin and fat.
What is a standard abdominoplasty?
A standard or full abdominoplasty involves removing the excess skin and fat between your pubic area (bikini line in women) and your belly button. Your belly button is left attached in its place, but a cut is made around it to free it from the surrounding skin (which is to be removed). The remaining skin left at the level of the belly button is then pulled down and stitched at the pubic level. The belly button is brought out through a new cut made in the skin that has been pulled down over it. Any weakness of your muscles or hernias is repaired before your wound is closed.
What is a mini tummy tuck?
A mini tummy tuck is less invasive than a full tummy tuck because much less skin is removed and there are no cuts around your belly button. You might be suitable for it if you only have a small amount of loose skin or fat affecting the lower part of your tummy. Your belly button remains undisturbed but may be pulled down slightly. The scar from a mini-abdominoplasty is usually shorter (but not always) than that of a standard abdominoplasty.
An apronectomy is a modification of the mini-abdominoplasty for patients who have a large overhang of skin and fat over the lower tummy area. In this procedure, only the surplus skin and fat is removed. The scar is long and extends from one side of the apron to the other.
What is an extended abdominoplasty?
An extended abdominoplasty may be needed after massive weight loss. It involves removal of excess skin and fat from the abdomen and lower back. It will leave a scar around the umbilicus and a long curved scar on the abdomen above the pubic area, and around towards the flank/ lower back. Sometimes the wound extends the whole way around the body – circumferential abdominoplasty, and this is a very major and involved procedure.
Is liposuction combined with abdominoplasty?
Liposuction is commonly combined with any of the different abdominoplasty procedures.
Can I have liposuction alone instead of an abdominoplasty?
Sometimes liposuction alone can achieve a good result on the tummy. A critical factor is the quality of your skin. Dramatic improvements can be achieved when your skin is of good quality and has not been overly stretched in the past. If you have a lot of loose skin, then liposuction on its own is likely to make things worse.
What if I get pregnant after a tummy tuck?
Getting pregnant after a tummy tuck will not harm you or your baby. However, it will undo (to some extent) the effects of your tummy tuck. If you are planning on getting pregnant, it is best to wait until you have completed your family before undergoing a tummy tuck.
What are the risks of having a tummy tuck?
As with all surgical procedures, there are risks associated with abdominoplasty surgery. Some patients are at higher risk of complications than others (for example smokers and patients who are overweight). Your surgeon will be able to point out particular dangers that you may be more susceptible to, depending on your personal history and circumstances.
All patients will experience:
A variable degree of pain and bruising for at least a few days. Pain is usually worse if there has been a requirement to tighten your abdominal muscles (rectus plication)
A variable degree of swelling – this can take several months to subside completely.
Permanent scarring – the quality of scarring cannot be guaranteed and usually depends on the way your body heals. Some patients can form thick, red, itchy scars but most scars typically fade over time (but won’t completely disappear).
Complications can occur during or after the operation.
Possible general complications 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). A DVT can be a serious condition, and if the clot spreads to the lungs (pulmonary embolus), then the outcome can be fatal. Fortunately, the incidence of pulmonary embolism after abdominoplasty is rare.
Complications specific to tummy tuck include:
Infection might require treatment with antibiotics. On rare occasions, an infection can be severe and life-threatening.
Bleeding might require a return to theatre to stop the bleeding and drain the area.
Delayed wound healing
Delayed healing can occur, particularly in the tighter central part of the wound. Sometimes dressings are needed for a few weeks.
A seroma is a collection of fluid under your skin which may need to be drained with a needle during your post-operative visits. The collection usually settles down (but may last for more than a month) and does not affect the cosmetic result. The chance of getting a seroma that needs drainage is less than 1 in 10.
Scars can sometimes be red, thickened and itchy (hypertrophic scars). These can take several months to settle and fade
Loss of sensation is usually temporary but can be permanent
Perfect symmetry does not exist before or after abdominoplasty surgery. Scars will never be identical from side to side, and the umbilicus will not be precisely in the midline
Secondary procedures are occasionally required to revise scars or to excise more skin (particularly on the sides).
How long does it take to recover from an abdominoplasty?
It usually takes about six weeks to make a full recovery from a tummy tuck, but this varies between individuals and the technique used. Over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are usually sufficient in the first few days after your surgery. You can generally return to work about three to four weeks after the operation.
You will usually be able to do light activities at around ten days after your surgery. Any vigorous exercise should be avoided for at least six weeks. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions depending on the type of operation you have had.
How much does it cost
Mini tummy tuck from £4175
Full tummy tuck from £5750
Extended tummy tuck from £6000
All inclusive costs for one year following surgery