Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

A Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty) is the surgical procedure performed to improve the shape and contour of your tummy. The operation is performed to remove excess skin, unwanted scars, stretch marks and fat, and it will also tighten the stomach muscles.

Who is suitable for a tummy tuck?

There are a variety of different abdominoplasty procedures that may be suitable for you, depending on your age and specific circumstances. These include:

Liposuction – Typically, liposuction is suitable for younger patients who have not been pregnant, who have good-quality, elastic skin and whose main problem is an excess of fat. Often patients have what might be termed a ‘pot belly’ – a slight excess of fat in the lower tummy and perhaps flanks. Liposuction involves small incisions, through which excess fat is removed. The tiny wounds are then closed and a pressure garment worn for a few weeks. Over the following months a degree of skin shrinkage or tightening can then be expected.

Mini Tummy Tuck – This is usually performed on slightly older patients who may have had previous pregnancies (causing the muscles below the belly button to splay apart), and who have a slight excess of skin and fat, especially below the belly-button. A wedge of skin and fat is cut from the lower tummy, leaving a horizontal scar similar to that from a Caesarean Section. Liposuction is performed on the upper tummy and waist and the muscles below the belly-button are tightened. The belly-button itself is stretched slightly to become more elongated, and generally assumes a more appealing appearance.

Classic Tummy Tuck – In patients with a greater degree of slack or excess skin, excess fat and splaying of the muscles, a classic tummy tuck may be required (though not in women who are planning future pregnancies). Incisions are made firstly from hip to hip, then around the bully button, and a large wedge of skin is excised from above the belly button to just above the pubic hair. Some areas may be treated with liposuction and the muscles above and below the belly-button are tightened. Although this operation leaves the biggest scar, it provides the greatest degree of improvement in shape.

What to expect at the initial consultation?

At the initial consultation, I will discuss your thoughts and needs with you and elicit a past medical history. It is important that you mention to me any previous abdominal surgery, pregnancies, leg or lung blood clots and whether or not you smoke. If you are on any long-term medication, have any allergies, have a tendency to bleed or bruise easily, have had any previous surgery or problems with local or general anaesthesia, or if you have any medical ailments, please tell me. It’s also important for me to know about any large fluctuations in weight that you’ve experienced.

I will weigh you and your abdomen will then be examined to assess your skin quality and the quantity of fat and muscle tone. At this stage, I will assess what type of abdominoplasty is suitable for you and whether the operation will meet your specific needs.

Where does the treatment take place?

Your operation can take place at either Parkside Hospital, Wimbledon; St Anthony’s Hospital, Cheam, or The New Victoria Hospital, Kingston upon Thames. You can expect to spend 2-3 nights in hospital recovering from the operation before going home.

What can go wrong?

In general, abdominoplasty is safe and results are entirely predictable, with an associated high-degree of patient satisfaction. Nevertheless, no surgery is without risk and I will explain the risks and possible side effects of treatment with you at your consultation. Possible complications include:

  • Bleeding and haematoma
  • Infection
  • Wound healing problems
  • Poor or absent sensation below the umbilicus
  • Poor scars, including hypertrophic and keloid scars
  • Asymmetry
  • Seroma
  • DVT and pulmonary embolism
  • Fat necrosis (benign fat lumps)
  • “Dog ears”

How long does it take to recover?

Recovery can take up to 4 weeks and you are advised not to return to work during the recovery period. You may need to wear a girdle-style pressure garment for the first 2-4 weeks after your operation. Vigorous abdominal wall exercise will not be possible for up to 8 weeks after a full abdominoplasty.

How satisfied can you expect to be with the procedure?

Mini or Classic tummy tucks produce excellent results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin and fat. In most cases, the results are long lasting, especially if you avoid weight gain, follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Patients frequently experience improved self-confidence from an improved abdominal contour.

Scars are inevitable with any operation, but with time these should decrease and be much less conspicuous. As far as possible most scars will be within your underpant and/or bikini line.

I can discuss the exact nature of your treatment, including procedure details, recovery times and any possible side effects, at a consultation. This will reflect your exact circumstances and needs. The information included here is provided for general guidance only.

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