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Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)

What is abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure to remove excess fat and skin from the abdominal area in order to tighten the abdominal muscles and tissues.

Surgery can help those who have been left with folds of abdominal skin following weight loss, pregnancy or simply the ageing process.  It’s important to note that a tummy tuck is not a weight loss treatment and should only be considered when a healthy weight is achieved.  Surgery is not appropriate for women planning to have more children.

What does surgery involve?

Abdominoplasty is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually requires a two night stay in hospital.

Your surgeon will make an incision across the base of the abdomen - hip to hip – usually following the pubic line (bikini line).  A ‘mini’ tummy tuck will involve significantly smaller incisions.  Your surgeon may also cut around the umbilicus (belly button) so that it can be repositioned.

If necessary, stretched or torn abdominal muscles are pulled together and stitched in place.  The skin is pulled down, excess removed and the belly button is repositioned.  Incisions are stitched and the abdomen bandaged.

Drainage tubes may be used to remove excess fluid from the abdomen.  These will be removed before you return home.

How soon will I recover?

Some pain, swelling and bruising is to be expected following surgery and should subside within a couple of weeks.

Your anaesthetist will prescribe painkillers for the first week, possibly longer.  It’s important to discuss pain and discomfort with our nursing team.

Your surgeon will advise, however an abdominal support garment is usually worn constantly for the first two weeks, then during the day for a further four weeks.

A course of antibiotics will be prescribed.

A minimum of two weeks off work is usual, however your surgeon will advise.  Strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, swimming and vacuuming should be avoided for at least six weeks.

What are the risks involved? 

Abdominoplasty is a commonly performed and generally safe procedure.  Nonetheless, all surgery and anaesthetic have some risk associated.  Risks to all surgeries include infection, excessive bleeding, adverse reaction to anaesthetic or blood clotting.

You will have scarring following surgery, however it should gradually soften and fade over several months. Numbness may be experienced in the lower part of your abdomen.  This is usually temporary, however in some cases may be permanent.

In some cases the belly button may not be central within the abdomen following surgery and, in very rare cases, may not be successfully re-attached.

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