An abdominoplasty (also known as a 'tummy tuck') is a procedure designed to remove excess fat and skin from the abdominal wall. It is effective in patients who have otherwise good health, but are troubled by excess skin or localized deposits of fat which do not respond to diet or exercise.

The best results are obtained in patients who are close to their ideal weight for their height. Smokers have a significant risk of impaired wound healing and you should stop for a period of time before the surgery is carried out in order to decrease the risk of complications. Each patient has different requirements and it may be that a more limited abdominoplasty is recommended for those patients with more of their extra tissue in the lower abdomen.

Most abdominoplasty operations are carried out under general anaesthesia, with a length of hospital stay of approximately three days to one week. The operating time depends on whether all components of an abdominoplasty are carried out. The usual incision is transverse, running from hip bone to hip bone. The belly-button is freed from surrounding tissue, and the extra skin and fat lifted from the body wall. If required, the vertical muscles of the abdominal wall can be tightened to help support the abdomen and provide a firm base for the surgery.

The skin flap is stretched and the extra skin and fat removed, while the belly-button is brought through in its new position. The incisions are then sutured and plastic surgical tubes brought through the skin to drain excess fluid from under the previously lifted skin.

It is advisable to wear support garments in the post-operative period to help reapply the elevated skin to the abdominal wall. Although skin healing is achieved within two weeks, the scars will settle over a period of 12 -18 months, with some initial redness followed by gradual fading. There will be some loss of sensation over the lower abdominal skin, followed again by gradual recovery.

You should be able to return to work within 2 - 4 weeks after surgery, although vigorous physical activity should be deferred for six weeks. Most patients are satisfied with the outcomes of abdominoplasty. Provided you adhere to a reasonable weight programme and a healthy lifestyle, your new appearance should be a long-lasting one.

  Patient b: Before / six months after abdominoplsty and umbilicus reshaping. This scar has now started to fade. Note the significant improvement in body contour and hourglass figure
  • The amount of tissue removed during abdominoplasty depends on the relative excess of tissue and your overall body shape.
  • You may need either a mini-abdominoplasty, or a full abdominoplasty, and the dissection may or may not involving incising around the belly button.
  • Most scars will be red initially, and may take up to twelve months to settle down to a less obvious pale line.
  • An abdominal elastic garment, or binder, is helpful in the post-operative period for support and to help reduce swelling.

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