As a result of pregnancy and weight loss women often develop an excess of abdominal skin and fat with stretched abdominal muscles. Men can also suffer a similar excess of skin and fat following weight loss. An abdominoplasty "tummy tuck" is an operation to remove excess fat and skin from the abdomen in order to improve the shape and contour of this region of the body. The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and takes 2-3 hours requiring a 2-3 day hospital stay. During the procedure a long curved cut is made in the skin across the lower abdomen at the level of the top of the pubic hair, and a separate small cut is made around the umbilicus. Beneath the skin and fat the abdominal wall muscles are tightened with stitches and the excess skin and fat are then excised.
The lower wound is stitched with dissolving sutures leaving the resulting scar concealed by bikini style underwear. The umbilicus is stitched with a combination of dissolving sutures and some that will need to be removed 7-10 days after the operation. This is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures and has high patient satisfaction and low complication rate. It can be performed in conjunction with liposuction if additional excess fat needs removing. In some patients with a smaller excess of lower abdominal skin and fat, a mini version of an abdominoplasty is performed requiring a smaller scar in the bikini line but without the need for any scarring around the umbilicus.
Not everyone is suitable for an abdominoplasty. Suitability is a matter for you and The surgeon to discuss in clinic, following a thorough analysis of your medical history and a thorough clinical consultation.
The surgery improves the contour and shape of the abdomen increasing patient confidence and improving self esteem. Patients who have had an abdominoplasty enjoy being able to wear clothes and swimwear that they would have previously been to embarrassed to wear.
There is one long low abdominal scar extending in a curve from one side of the abdomen to the other. This scar is hidden within the bikini line. There is also a small scar around the umbilicus. In a mini-abdominoplasty, the low abdominal scar is in the same location but usually much shorter and there is no scar around the umbilicus.
Following surgery, you will be given a corset to wear for six weeks. For the first week you will need to walk around stooped over a little, and sleep with a pillow under your knees to keep tension off the wound. For the first two weeks postoperatively, you should not lift anything heavier than a kettle. Depending on your job you can usually return to work for light duties after 2-3 weeks. A gradual increase in light exercise is encouraged after you your first wound check following discharge from hospital, but no sport, strenuous exercises or weight lifting should be undertaken until six weeks following surgery or until you are seen by the surgeon for review.
The visual improvement in abdominal contour will be immediately apparent following Abdominoplasty surgery. However, there may some bruising, swelling and numbness around the wound which may last several weeks. The scars will undergo a natural maturation process involving a series of colour and texture changes over a period usually around 6 months. The final result can usually be judged at around 6 months to a year following surgery. The results of abdominoplasty are long lasting but large fluctuations in weight, further pregnancies and the normal age related effects on skin laxity can lead to a recurrence of loose skin.