WHAT IS AN Abdominoplasty ?

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.

The best candidates for abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, are individuals who have concerns with the appearance and contour of their abdomen. Here are some factors that make someone a suitable candidate for the procedure:

  1. Loose or Excess Abdominal Skin: Candidates may have loose, sagging, or excess skin in the abdominal area. This can be a result of significant weight loss, pregnancy, or natural aging.

  2. Abdominal Muscle Weakness or Separation: Candidates may have weakened or separated abdominal muscles, often referred to as diastasis recti. This condition can cause a protruding abdomen or a “pooch” appearance.

  3. Stubborn Fat Deposits: Candidates may have localized fat deposits in the abdominal area that are resistant to diet and exercise. These stubborn fat pockets can affect the overall contour and shape of the abdomen.

  4. Post-Pregnancy Changes: Women who have experienced pregnancy and childbirth may have stretched abdominal muscles and excess skin that does not fully retract after giving birth.

  5. Weight Stability: Ideal candidates should be at a stable weight that is close to their goal weight. Abdominoplasty is not a weight loss procedure, and it is important for individuals to have realistic expectations about the outcome.

  6. Good Overall Health: Candidates should be in good overall health and without any underlying medical conditions that may increase the risks associated with surgery or hinder the healing process.

  7. Non-Smoker: Being a non-smoker or willing to quit smoking is preferred, as smoking can increase the risk of complications and impair the healing process.

  8. Realistic Expectations: Candidates should have realistic expectations about the outcome of the procedure. While abdominoplasty can significantly improve the appearance of the abdomen, individual results may vary.

Here is an overview of how an abdominoplasty is typically done:

  1. Anesthesia: The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia, which ensures that the patient is completely asleep and pain-free during the surgery.

  2. Incision Placement: The surgeon will make an incision in the lower abdomen, typically from hip to hip, just above the pubic area. The length and shape of the incision may vary depending on the extent of correction needed and the specific technique used.

  3. Removal of Excess Skin and Fat: The surgeon will carefully separate the skin from the underlying tissue and remove any excess skin and fat. Liposuction may also be performed to remove stubborn fat deposits in the abdominal area.

  4. Muscle Repair: If necessary, the surgeon will repair and tighten the abdominal muscles. This involves suturing the weakened or separated muscles together, creating a firmer and more defined abdominal wall.

  5. Repositioning of the Belly Button: In a full or standard abdominoplasty, the surgeon may reposition the belly button to ensure it looks natural and harmonious with the new abdominal contour. This involves creating a new opening for the belly button in the tightened abdominal skin.

  6. Skin Redraping and Closure: The remaining skin is carefully redraped over the newly contoured abdomen, and any excess skin is trimmed. The incisions are then meticulously closed using sutures or surgical staples.

  7. Post-operative Dressings and Drains: Your surgeon may apply dressings or bandages to the incision site to protect it and promote healing. Temporary drains may be placed under the skin to remove excess fluid and prevent the buildup of fluid in the surgical area.

  8. Recovery and Follow-up: After the surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery area until you wake up from anesthesia and are stable. Your surgeon will provide detailed instructions on post-operative care, including pain management, wound care, activity restrictions, and follow-up appointments.

The recovery period after abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck surgery, is an important time for healing and achieving optimal results. Here are some key points about the recovery process:

  1. Hospital Stay: Most abdominoplasty procedures require an overnight hospital stay, allowing medical professionals to monitor your initial recovery. In some cases, outpatient surgery may be an option, and you can go home on the same day.

  2. Pain Management: You may experience some pain, discomfort, and swelling in the abdominal area following the surgery. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications to help manage any discomfort during the initial recovery phase.

  3. Compression Garments: You will be advised to wear a compression garment or abdominal binder to support the healing process, reduce swelling, and provide additional comfort. This garment helps to minimize fluid buildup, promote blood circulation, and shape the newly contoured abdomen.

  4. Rest and Limited Activities: It is important to get plenty of rest during the initial recovery period. Avoid any strenuous activities, heavy lifting, or vigorous exercise for several weeks, as these can interfere with the healing process and potentially cause complications.

  5. Drainage Tubes: If drainage tubes were placed during the surgery, your surgeon will instruct you on how to care for them and when to have them removed. These tubes help to remove excess fluid that may accumulate in the surgical area.

  6. Wound Care: Proper wound care is essential for optimal healing. Your surgeon will provide specific instructions on how to clean and care for the incision site. It is important to keep the area clean and dry, avoid soaking in water or pools, and follow your surgeon’s guidance on when you can shower.

  7. Follow-up Appointments: You will have follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor your healing progress and remove any sutures or drainage tubes. These appointments allow your surgeon to assess the results and address any concerns or questions you may have.

  8. Swelling and Bruising: Swelling and bruising are normal after surgery and will gradually subside over time. Keeping yourself well-hydrated, elevating your legs when resting, and following your surgeon’s advice on managing swelling can help expedite the healing process.

  9. Scar Care: It is important to take care of your surgical incision sites to minimize scarring. Your surgeon may recommend scar management techniques, such as applying topical creams or silicone sheets, to help reduce the appearance of scars over time.

  10. Patience with Results: It is important to have realistic expectations about the final results of your abdominoplasty. It can take several months for the swelling to completely resolve and for the tissues to settle into their new position. Be patient and follow your surgeon’s guidance for the best long-term outcome.


The duration of an abdominoplasty surgery varies depending on the extent of correction needed. On average, it can take approximately two to five hours to complete the procedure.

Yes, abdominoplasty does result in a scar. The scar is typically located low on the abdomen, below the bikini line, and can be concealed by most underwear or swimwear. Over time, the scar tends to fade and become less noticeable.

In most cases, patients are required to stay overnight in the hospital following abdominoplasty. This allows for proper monitoring during the initial recovery period. However, some less extensive cases may be performed on an outpatient basis.

The recovery time varies from person to person, but most individuals can return to non-strenuous work and light activities within two to four weeks after the surgery. Strenuous activities and heavy lifting should be avoided for several weeks or as advised by your surgeon.

Yes, wearing a compression garment after abdominoplasty is typically recommended. The garment helps to reduce swelling, provide support to the healing tissues, and improve the overall contour of the abdomen. Your surgeon will advise you on the duration of wearing the compression garment.

Abdominoplasty can remove stretch marks that are located on the excised skin. Stretch marks above the belly button may be partially or fully removed, while those below the belly button can be eliminated along with the excess skin.

While abdominoplasty is safe and effective, it is generally recommended to postpone the surgery until you have completed your family, as pregnancy can potentially affect the results. Pregnancy after abdominoplasty may lead to stretching of the abdominal tissues and compromise the aesthetic outcome.

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and potential complications. These can include bleeding, infection, scarring, poor wound healing, changes in sensation, asymmetry, blood clots, or unfavorable aesthetic results. It is important to discuss these risks with your surgeon and follow their pre- and post-operative instructions for a smooth recovery.

related procedures