Tummy Tuck

Procedure time

2 to 4 hours

Overnight stay

2 Nights

Anaesthetic

General or local with sedation

Final results

6 – 9 months

A tummy tuck, otherwise known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that helps create a more defined abdominal contour. It is currently one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the world. This tummy tuck overview will be able to give you an introduction to the surgery.

What can a tummy tuck achieve? 

The aim of a tummy tuck is to create a smoother, more shapely abdomen. Your surgeon does this by removing stubborn fat and excess skin that cannot be lost through exercise and diet alone. 
You should be aware however, that a tummy tuck is not a weight loss procedure. It is most suitable for patients who have excess skin from major weight loss or pregnancy. You should therefore aim to reach your optimal weight before you consider having a tummy tuck.
A tummy tuck procedure can: 

  • Remove loose skin after major weight loss
  • Remove excess skin or fat after a pregnancy
  • Tighten weak stomach muscles
  • Repair stomach muscles that have separated.

Your surgeon may also choose to include liposuction with your tummy tuck. This is because liposuction can help contour the body more precisely, and therefore help achieve a more shapely figure. Some surgeons include liposuction in all of their abdominoplasty procedures and some do not. It is worth asking your surgeon if they will include liposuction with your tummy tuck.
In addition to the changes made to your figure, you may also see improvements with unwanted:

  • Scars
  • Stretch marks.
Why have a tummy tuck? 

It is important to be aware that a tummy tuck is not a type of weight loss surgery. It is therefore not an appropriate procedure for you if you are seeking to lose more weight. The ideal tummy tuck candidates include patients who have a stable weight and are looking to remove stubborn fat and skin that they cannot remove through exercise and diet alone.
Ideal tummy tuck candidates include those who: 

  • Are not happy with the look of their abdomen
  • Want to remove excess skin or fat from their abdomen
  • Have loose or weak abdominal muscles that need tightening
  • Are not currently pregnant or planning a future pregnancy.

Before you consider having a tummy tuck, you must make sure that you are:

  • Physically and emotionally fit for surgery
  • Not smoking or using nicotine products for at least 6 weeks before the operation
  • Willing to adopt a healthy diet and do regular exercise to maintain results after surgery
  • Expecting realistic goals from your operation.
Who is not suitable for a tummy tuck?

Weight loss

As tummy tuck surgery is not a procedure that aids weight loss, surgeons only recommend this operation for patients who have stubborn fat or excess skin that cannot be removed through exercise or diet alone. You should be aware that major weight loss or weight gain after the operation may affect the results of the procedure. We, therefore, recommend that you reach an optimal and stable weight before you have your tummy tuck.

Pregnancy

If you are a woman who is planning on becoming pregnant, tummy tuck surgery may not be suitable for you until after you complete your family. This is because the surgery will involve tightening of the abdominal muscles, which will stretch during pregnancy. Therefore having a pregnancy after a tummy tuck will stretch the muscles back to their pre-surgery state. This will also put you at a greater risk of developing a hernia if you were to become pregnant.

How is a tummy tuck procedure performed?

A tummy tuck procedure often lasts between 2 to 4 hours. Before you have your procedure, you must follow the advice given for eating, drinking and taking medications the night before. The procedure involves the following steps:

1. Consent form

Before or on the day of your surgery, you will be given a consent form to sign by your surgeon and anaesthetist. After you have given consent, your surgeon will draw lines on your abdomen and discuss the goals of your tummy tuck.

2. Anaesthesia

Before your surgeon starts, your anaesthetist will give you your anaesthetic. This is usually a general anaesthetic but may also be a local anaesthetic with IV (intravenous) sedation.

3. Incisions

There are several tummy tuck techniques that your surgeon may use. Your surgeon will choose which technique is most appropriate for you. The incisions made depend on the type of tummy tuck you have. There are four different procedures that are currently used for tummy tuck surgery:

  • Full abdominoplasty
  • Mini (modified) abdominoplasty
  • Endoscopic abdominoplasty
  • Fleur-de-Lis abdominoplasty

A full tummy tuck procedure involves making two different incisions:
1. The first one is made around the belly button.
2. The second one is made along the bikini line, from one hip to the other.
This is the ‘classic’ tummy tuck technique that targets both the upper and lower abdomen. The surgeon will tighten the abdominal muscles and remove excess skin and fat. It is most suitable for patients who have recently lost a great deal of weight or women who have excess, stubborn fat and weak muscles after pregnancy.
A full tummy tuck is not suitable for patients who are planning a future pregnancy as the pregnancy will re-stretch the muscles and reverse the results of surgery.
Although a full abdominoplasty causes a large amount of scarring, it allows for a greater improvement in shape than a mini or endoscopic tummy tuck.

A mini tummy tuck mainly targets the lower abdomen. Your surgeon will make a single incision line made across the bikini line (smaller than in a full tummy tuck). There is no scar around the belly button but your surgeon may stretch it to a different shape. Surgeons use this technique when only a small amount of excess skin and fat needs removal. The surgeon may or may not tighten the muscles, depending on necessity. While not ideal, it is a more suitable option for women planning a future pregnancy but as pregnancy will stretch abdominal muscles, you may need revision surgery if you give birth after the procedure. A mini tummy tuck causes a smaller amount of scarring than a full tummy tuck, however the final results are not as effective.

For an endoscopic tummy tuck, you surgeon will make several small incisions in the following areas:

  1. Around the pubic line and
  2. Around the base of the belly button.

The surgeon then uses a small camera called an ‘endoscope’ with small surgical instruments attached to perform the procedure.
This technique is the least invasive and is most suitable for patients with a protruding abdomen and a small amount of excess skin.  It is the best option in patients for whom muscle tightening is the main goal.
This technique causes very minimal scarring that you can easily conceal.

The three incisions made in a Fleur-de-Lis tummy tuck include:

  1. Around the belly button
  2. Across the bikini line, from one hip to the other
  3. Vertically down the middle of the stomach.

This technique is the most extreme type of tummy tuck and is not often used. It is most suitable for patients who have lost a very large amount of weight, resulting in large amounts of excess skin. This can be a result of having weight loss surgery such as a gastric bypass. This type of tummy tuck causes a large amount of scarring but allows for the greatest amount of improvement.

3. Closure of incisions

After your surgeon removes the excess skin and fat and tightens the muscles, they then close the incisions. They will apply some tape and strapping to the stomach. They may also insert some drains to help reduce swelling and bruising.

4. Return to the ward

Finally, you are taken back to the ward to recover from the anaesthetic. You should be able to go home after spending 1 to 3 nights in hospital. It may take 6 to 8 weeks for the swelling and bruising to go down before you can appreciate the full cosmetic results of your procedure. Your surgeon will discuss the different techniques with you and will suggest which procedure will achieve the best results for your body. Their choice will depend on a number of factors including:

  • The amount of excess skin and fat on your abdomen.
  • The elasticity of your skin.
  • The tone of your underlying muscles.
  • Your own desired outcome.

It can be difficult for you to determine which kind of tummy tuck procedure is right for you. Your surgeon will discuss which procedure will achieve the best results possible.

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