Tummy tuck surgery (or abdominoplasty) is a procedure used to give you a tighter, flatter stomach and reduce the appearance of stretch marks on your lower abdomen. This type of surgery is performed on patients who have skin and abdominal wall slackness after pregnancy or significant weight loss. Abdominoplasty surgery offers a solution by flattening the slack skin and tightening the muscles of the relaxed tummy wall. If needed, excess subcutaneous fatty tissue can be removed as well.
Tummy tuck surgery not only results in a better appearance and function, but it also stops the slackening process of the abdominal wall. The results can be long-lasting, especially if you exercise, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight after your operation.
Tummy tuck surgery can give you a tighter, flatter stomach and reduce the appearance of stretch marks on your lower abdomen. The operation can remove folds of skin left behind after losing a lot of weight, and tighten stretched skin and muscles after pregnancy in women who don't plan to have another baby. Abdominoplasty is not a substitute for losing weight through regular physical activity and a healthy, balanced diet, and cannot be used for weight control.
If you are considering tummy tuck surgery, you should have a full consultation with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, followed by a full and comprehensive medical examination.
A Tummy tuck usually requires a one or two night stay in the hospital and is done under general anesthesia. This means you will be asleep during the procedure. With a general anesthetic you must typically not eat or drink for about six hours beforehand. However some anesthetists allow occasional sips of water until two hours before the abdominoplasty procedure.
The incision and resulting scar runs closely above the pubic hair within the entire width between the hip bones, and is situated where it is easily covered with underwear along its entire length. In addition to removing excess skin slack, tummy tuck surgery also includes the transfer of the navel to a new position, reinforcement of the abdominal wall by suturing loose tummy muscles, and subcutaneous tissue removal if required.
The operation times vary, depending on the extent of the abdominoplasty operation. There are three types of tummy tuck options available depending on how much skin and fat you want removed. Your surgeon will explain which type is most suitable for you after a full consultation. A complete abdominoplasty can take one to five hours. A partial abdominoplasty (mini tummy tuck) can be completed in one to two hours.
The three types of tummy tuck are:
STANDARD TUMMY TUCK
Your abdominoplasty surgeon makes surgical cuts into your abdomen and above your bikini line. Your belly button is cut from the surrounding skin. Stretched or torn muscles are pulled together and stitched into place and excess fat is removed. Your skin is then pulled down and the excess trimmed off. Your belly button will then be repositioned to fit the new shape of your abdomen.
The cuts are closed with stitches and your lower abdomen is firmly strapped with bandages. You will have a scar around your belly button and a long curved scar along your bikini line, which can usually sit behind the line of your underwear.
MINI TUMMY TUCK
Only the skin and fat below your belly button is removed leaving a long curved scar along your bikini line.
EXTENDED TUMMY TUCK
Excess skin and fat from your abdomen and your back is removed by your abdominoplasty surgeon. You will have a scar around your belly button and a long curved scar along your bikini line and around your back.
In preparation for your operation your Abdominoplasty surgeon may ask you to:
- Lose weight. You will get the optimum result from your tummy tuck operation if you are the correct weight for your height.
- Stop taking the contraceptive pill six weeks before surgery and use an alternative method of contraception. This reduces the risk of blood clotting (thrombosis) which can be extremely serious.
- Give up smoking. Smoking increases your risk of chest or wound infection, and will slow your recovery.
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding.
When you arrive at the hospital for your tummy tuck operation, your nurse will explain how you will be cared for and do preliminary testing such as checking your heart rate, blood pressure, and testing your urine. Your surgeon will then usually visit you to discuss the operation and ask you to sign a consent form. This confirms that you understand the risks, benefits and possible alternatives to the procedure and that you give your consent for the abdominoplasty procedure to go ahead. Your surgeon may mark the operation site by drawing lines on your abdomen, and with your consent may take photographs so that the results of your abdominoplasty before and after can be compared.
You will then be prepared for surgery, and you will be asked to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots forming in the veins in your legs. You will also be measured for a support garment to wear after the operation to aid your healing and recovery.