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Education Center >> Tummy Tuck: Abdominoplasty
 
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ABDOMINOPLASTY

An abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is a cosmetic operation to improve the appearance of your abdomen. It may involve removing excess skin and fat and tightening the abdominal muscles. Your surgeon will advise if this surgery is appropriate for you.

Always tell your surgeon if you are:
•Planning to lose a lot of weight – it may be better to lose the weight before surgery
•Pregnant or planning to get pregnant in the future. Pregnancy can change the shape of your breasts and may affect the long-term results of surgery

Benefits
A successful operation should give you a firmer and better-shaped abdomen – the operation can benefit both men and women who have been left with loose layers of fat and skin after dramatic weight loss or successful weight loss surgery, as well as women following pregnancy.

Alternatives
•Exercise. If your abdomen looks saggy because the muscles of your abdominal wall are slack, exercise may help
•Liposuction. If the problem is caused mainly by too much fat, it may be better to only have liposuction, where the fat is sucked out using a small tube. Sometimes your surgeon will recommend having liposuction before, during or after a tummy tuck

The operation
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes between two and five hours. Your surgeon may use one of the following techniques:

Standard abdominoplasty (suitable if you have a lot of excess skin).
Your surgeon will make a curved cut from one hip to the other, going down to just above the pubic area. They will remove any excess skin and fat between the pubic area and your umbilicus. Your surgeon will then cut under the skin above your umbilicus, pulling it downwards and tightening it

Mini-abdominoplasty (suitable if you only have a little excess skin).
Your surgeon will only need to make a small cut just above the pubic area to remove the excess skin

Endoscopic abdominoplasty (suitable if you only need to have the muscles of your abdominal wall tightened).
Your surgeon will make small cuts and use an endoscope (flexible telescope) with special surgical instruments to tighten the muscles of your abdominal wall. Your surgeon may also use liposuction to remove excess fat.

At the end of the operation, your surgeon will usually place small tubes (drains) in the cuts to help the wounds to heal. They will usually close the cuts with dissolvable stitches, leaving the drains in place.

Continue your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.

These lifestyle changes can help make the operation a success:
•Giving up smoking
•Eating healthily. If overweight, you have a greater chance of developing complications
•Exercising regularly.

Possible complications
•Bleeding after surgery.
•Some pain is common with most operation, but you will be prescribed painkillers for a few days following your operation. However, you can feel quite sore if you had a standard abdominoplasty or if your surgeon had to tighten your abdominal muscles.
•Minor infection in a surgical wound, which is common and may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery
•Unsightly scarring of the skin, but this will fade over time.
•A swelling under the skin in your lower abdomen, caused by blood or fluid collecting. You may need to have the blood or fluid removed.
•Numbness or persistent pain on your abdomen. This is caused by injury to the small nerves that supply the skin. Any pain or numbness usually settles after a few weeks.
•It is difficult to predict exactly how your abdomen will appear after surgery. Sometimes you will still have a small area of excess skin after the operation.

Recovery
After the operation your abdomen will look discoloured and feel firm and swollen. You should try to keep your knees bent to reduce the tension on your stitches.

You should be able to go home two to three days after the operation. However, your doctor may recommend that you stay a little longer.

For the first two weeks, you should rest and not do any heavy activities. This will help the wound to heal and reduce the risk of fluid collecting. You should be able to return to work after the second week. For the first six weeks after the operation, don’t lift anything heavy or do strenuous housework.

Your surgeon will arrange any follow-up appointments and will give you advice on exercise. The best results of an abdominoplasty will happen if you keep to a healthy weight and exercise regularly. The results of an abdominoplasty improve gradually over the first six months.