Tummy tucks

The abdomen is frequently deformed by conditions such as obesity, pregnancy, weight loss and previous surgery. Pregnancy can cause abdominal skin laxity, stretch marks and stretching of the abdominal muscles. This can cause protrusion of the lower abdomen and is difficult to correct even with exercise. The abdomen can also be deformed from scars of previous surgery.

An abdomen deformed in such a way is aesthetically displeasing and many patients become self-conscious of their   the pubic region and can cause discomfort and rash.

Aims of Surgery

An abdominoplasty is an operation in which the loose skin and fat of the abdominal wall, particularly around the navel, is removed by elevation of the skin and fat, pulling it inferiorly and excising the excess. It is particularly effective in removing stretch marks from the lower abdomen it must be understood that not all stretch marks can be eliminated. Frequently, particularly after childbirth or weight loss, patients present with a weakness of the abdominal wall muscles and fascia. In such cases, the defect between the anterior muscles is repaired before trimming the excess skin and fat. This tightening of the abdominal muscles improves the waistline. T he navel is reinserted into the skin after the tightening procedure.  The operation can be combined with Suction Assisted Lipectomy (SAL) to correct the fullness of the flanks and the upper abdomen.

Types of Abdominoplasty

Mini Abdominoplasty: This operation is indicated when the skin and muscle laxity is mainly in the lower abdomen. The navel is not moved and the recovery period is shorter.

Standard Abdominoplasty: This operation is indicated when the skin and muscle laxity extends to the upper abdomen.

Extended Abdominoplasty: This operation is indicated in the very obese or those who have lost a lot of weight. The skin laxity extends to the back also.

Apronectomy: This is more a functional rather than a cosmetic operation done to remove large skin folds that hang down like an apron.

Commonly asked questions

Are there any scars?

It is inevitable that a certain degree of scarring will be produced but incisions are carefully planned and sutured so that the scars will be as inconspicuous as possible. The scars are located around the navel and above the pubic hairline where it can be covered by a normal two-piece swimsuit.

How long will the results last?

The result of an abdominoplasty is usually permanent although of course excessive weight changes or future pregnancies could lead to a recurrence of the deformity.

What happens if I become pregnant?

There is no danger to the pregnancy following this operation. Of course it is likely that further stretching of the skin will produce a recurrence of the deformity, although perhaps not as severe as prior to the surgery. If you are planning pregnancy in the near future it is best to defer the operation.

Are there any complications?

Tummy tuck is not a simple operation and there is potential for both minor and major complication. These complications are infrequent and measures are taken to prevent them. Occasionally excessive bleeding may cause haematoma (blood clot) or excessive bruising but the use of drains makes this rare. Sometimes tissue fluids collect (seroma) under the skin after the drains are removed, but this is easily aspirated in the outpatient clinic. Delayed wound healing can develop along the lower abdominal scar. This usually heals with dressing over 2-3 weeks. Smoking contributes to delayed wound healing and rarely to skin necrosis (Skin death due to loss of blood supply). It can increase the risk of chest infection.

Can vein thrombosis occur?

Venous thrombosis (blood clots in veins) can occur after any abdominal operation especially if the patients are grossly overweight. This complication is rare. Clexane (an anti-clotting agent) is given and anti-embolism stocking used during surgery and post operative to prevent this complication.

What type of anaesthetic is used?

A general anaesthetic is used as it provides the greatest comfort and safety for the patient. An intravenous drip is inserted for 24 hours.

Is the operation painful?

Yes, some discomfort and tightness is felt particularly for the first 48 hours. Appropriate medication is given to relieve pain. Patients are encouraged to get out of bed in the first 24 hours and pain then usually rapidly subsides.

How long does the operation take?

The normal operating time is around 3 hours.

How long am I in hospital?

An abdominoplasty operation requires 2-3 days hospitalisation. A firm dressing is applied after the surgery. This is removed after 24 to 48 hours to check the suture line. The drains are also usually removed after 48 to 72 hours. After the removal of the drain you are discharged from hospital. A firm abdominal girdle is to be worn for about 4-6 weeks and then at daytime only for a further 4-6 weeks. You will be seen in the outpatient clinic in about 7 days when the sutures (which are absorbable) are trimmed.

When can I return to work?

Most patients arrange 2-3 weeks off work although strenuous activity should be avoided for 4-6 weeks.

Should I reduce weight before the operation?

If you are overweight, reducing weight prior to surgery improves the overall cosmetic result. However many patients find this difficult to do preoperatively but are encouraged by the results of surgery to lose weight afterwards.

Meet Your Surgeon

Mr Juma is a Plastic Surgeon with 25 years of medical experience who has a long established reputation within his field. He is a Senior NHS Plastic Surgeon, a Medical Examiner and Honorary Lecturer who is renowned for being a perfectionist.

For your peace of mind, Mr Juma is GMC registered and a member of the Plastic Surgery UK membership bodies BAAPS and BAPRAS.

Call us free on 0800 977 6841