A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a
cosmetic surgery procedure that tightens up a flabby tummy that has lost muscle
tone and skin elasticity. It is not a treatment for obesity – you need to be at
a healthy weight before considering surgery. Men as well as women can benefit
from a tummy tuck but more women have the procedure as it helps reshape the
abdomen after multiple pregnancies.
Why consider a tummy tuck?
During pregnancy, a woman’s abdomen expands
very quickly. This causes visible problems such a stretch marks but it also
puts great strain on the abdominal muscles. Many women gain weight during
pregnancy and can become overweight or obese as a result. The additional fat in
the abdomen puts further strain on the skin and the muscles, resulting in a large
and flabby tummy.
Losing weight reduces the fatty tissue but
the skin does not recover as quickly. Women and men who have weight loss
surgery and who lose weight rapidly can develop folds of saggy lose skin and
may opt for a tummy tuck to increase their self confidence.
What is involved in a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck is a general name for
abdominoplasty and this procedure can be done in different ways:
A total abdominoplasty or full
abdominoplasty involves an incision across the width of the abdomen from hip to
hip. Two pieces of skin and fatty tissue are removed and the two edges of the
skin that remain are stitched together. This leaves a scar, although many
cosmetic surgeons keep the incision as low as possible, below the swimsuit line
if they can.
A mini abdominoplasty uses essentially the
same technique but on a smaller scale to remove less excess skin.
Endoscopic abdominoplasty is available for
women whose pregnancy has weakened their abdominal muscles but who do not have
excess fatty tissue or skin. The surgery to tighten the muscles is done under
the skin, so the scars left from the incisions are much smaller.
What to expect after a tummy tuck
This is a major operation and can take
between two and five hours to complete. It is always done under general
anaesthetic and you will be in hospital for two to three days. Drains will be
placed in the wound to let fluid out and you will not normally be allowed to go
home until these have all been removed.
You will feel very sore and will be given
pain relief in hospital. You may then need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen for
the first few days at home. You should be mobile after your tummy tuck but you
must not strain the abdominal muscles. Lifting or strenuous activity must be
avoided for at least 6 weeks. It is best to have your post operative check up
before starting an exercise programme, so that your cosmetic surgeon can make
sure your muscles have healed.
What risks are involved in a tummy tuck?
With the major incision in a full
abdominoplasty, there is always a risk of bleeding and infection but an
experience cosmetic surgeon will have a very low complication rate. More minor
complications can include:
Build up of fluid under the skin. This can
be drawn off by your cosmetic surgeon but may keep returning for several weeks.
It will eventually subside and won’t affect how your tummy looks when
everything has healed.
Scarring. The incision is large and it may
not be possible to make it low enough to hide under the swimsuit line. Some
people develop more obvious scars that take longer to fade.
Nerve damage: this can lead to a loss of
feeling in the skin of the abdomen.
An uneven result. This should not happen
with an experienced surgeon but if the amount of tissue that needs to be
removed is large, there is more of a chance that one side of the abdomen will
be flatter than the other.
What does a tummy tuck cost?
Typical range in a UK private hospital or
clinic is £4,575.00 – 6,600.00.