Abdominoplasty or Tummy Tuck, is a procedure performed on patients who are not overweight but sometimes have problem areas like bulging stomachs, or loose, folded skin around the abdomen. It is very common for people who have lost weight, sometimes following pregnancy, to have excess skin that cannot be resolved by dieting. People may notice weakness in their abdominal muscles that is not changed through exercise. Abdominoplasty treats these problems by removing extra skin and fatty tissue and tightening the abdominal muscles. Stretch marks on the lower abdomen are also removed and/or made less conspicuous.
It is extremely important to be aware that this surgery is not a means of losing weight and is not a substitute for eating healthily and exercising. The surgeon will discuss this with you at the consultation.
The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and requires a 1 or 2 night stay in the Hospital. A long, horizontal incision is made just above the pubic area, extending out to below the hip bones on each side. The skin and fatty tissue of the anterior abdomen are separated from the underlying muscle and supportive tissues. The underlying muscles are then tightened, the umbilicus is separated from the skin and left attached to the abdominal wall. The excess skin and fatty tissues are then pulled downwards and removed and the umbilicus is relocated to a more favourable position. Small plastic drains are placed beneath the skin for the first 24 hours and a firm elasticised dressing is applied to the abdominal wall.
This is a major operation and it will take some time to fully recover. In the first 7-10 days after surgery, there is a chance that fluid may collect behind the skin of the abdominal wall and need to be aspirated. You should rest for at least 3 weeks after the operation and it may take as long as 6 weeks to return to normal activities. You should avoid strenuous exercise and contact sports for 2-3 months.
Moderate tissue swelling may persist, just above the line of the scar, for several months before it finally disappears. There may be a small, circular scar around the umbilicus and a wider scar will be present across the lower abdomen, similar to a caesarean scar. These will gradually fade over 6-12 months and become less conspicuous. Sensation in the lower portion of the abdomen, just above the pubic area, will be reduced and this reduction in sensation may be permanent.
It is necessary to come for a pre-operative assessment at the hospital about a week prior to surgery. This takes about 30 minutes. It is also vital to attend post-operative consultations.