Abdominoplasty – better known as a tummy tuck surgery – is an operation to remove excess fat and skin from the lower abdomen, and restore muscle tone. This cosmetic surgery is usually performed to correct a loose or sagging abdomen following childbirth or rapid weight loss, especially in cases where other approaches, such as diet and exercise, have been ineffective.
This article on tummy tuck cosmetic surgery is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
Before you commit to a tummy tuck, you should be sure that you have completed your family and do not plan to get pregnant again. You should also commit yourself to a healthy diet and regular exercise. A tummy tuck is a major operation and your money, discomfort, and risk will all be wasted if you fall pregnant again or allow your weight to fluctuate significantly.
As with all cosmetic surgery, you should first consult your GP, even if you’re planning to have your tummy tuck procedure privately. Your GP is best placed to advise you, and with a GP referral your private surgeon will gain access to your full medical records.
The first step in your treatment will be a consultation with your surgeon. It is important to be open and honest during this process to ensure you get the treatment that is right for you, and that you have realistic expectations of the outcome of the surgery.
Your surgeon will talk to you about your operation and discuss your reasons for having it. He or she may recommend counselling before they agree to the operation.
You will also be asked a series of questions about your medical history, diet, and smoking and drinking habits, as these will all impact on the success your surgery.
Each tummy tuck operation is different, depending on the extent of the excess skin and fat, and underlying muscle damage. However, the procedure will usually last between one and two hours and include the following steps:
- A cut is made across the lower abdomen, usually from hipbone to hipbone
- A second cut is made upwards past the navel
- The skin is lifted to give access to the underlying muscle
- The muscle is repaired and any separation stitched to create a tighter tone
- Any excess fat is removed
- The skin is stretched downwards to flatten the tummy and any excess is cut off
- The skin is stitched and the navel is repositioned appropriately
As it is a major operation, you need to allow substantial recovery time. The schedule will normally run as follows:
- You will need to stay in hospital for 1-2 nights
- You will feel sore and swollen for several days
- Any non-dissolvable stitches or clamps will be removed after 5 days
- You should try non-weight-bearing exercise such as swimming as soon as you feel able
- Some patients return to work after 2 weeks, but it could take 3 or 4 weeks
- You should wear a support garment for the first 6 weeks and avoid heavy lifting
- After 6 weeks, you should feel fully recovered
Your clinic will give you detailed advice about caring for your wound and any drains that have been put in place to clear it. You will also be given a series of aftercare appointments to ensure that all is well.
Although many thousands of tummy tucks are performed each year without any complications, you should be aware that there are some risks involved in this cosmetic surgery which can be serious. These include wound infections and blood clots. If you have any concerns, notice any bleeding, or experience a sudden increase in pain level, you should consult your clinic as soon as possible.
Very occasionally there is nerve damage during tummy tuck surgery that can leave small areas below the belly button without sensation. This numbness usually fades with time but can be permanent.
Given the nature of the procedure, scarring is inevitable. However, your surgeon will do his or her best to position this below the bikini line and, where possible, in a natural fold or crease. You can minimise the scarring by massaging, moisturising, and even steroid injections. If this is important to you, you should discuss this with your surgeon in advance.
The average cost of tummy tuck surgery in the UK is between £4,000 and £5,000. However, as with any private treatment, your clinic choice should also include factors such as the surgeon’s experience and qualifications, the clinic location and facilities, and your sense of confidence in the organisation.