What is Abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure performed on the abdomen. More commonly known as a tummy tuck, this procedure removes excess fat and skin from the tummy area. This cosmetic procedure is often performed when excess fat has accumulated after pregnancy, obesity or due to age (middle age spread).

Am I a candidate for Abdominoplasty?

In order to undergo any surgical procedure, including cosmetic surgery, you must be in good health and not have any active diseases or serious medical conditions. It is also important that you have a realistic vision of what abdominoplasty can do for you.

You must be completely honest with your cosmetic surgeon if you want the procedure to be successful. Keeping quiet about any existing or past medical conditions, or any medication of drugs you may be using will only lead to complications and could put you at serious risk. It is also not recommended if you plan to have children in the future.

When is Abdominoplasty usually performed?

First things first… this procedure is not for weight loss. Abdominoplasty is usually performed on women who have gained excess fat & skin after childbirth and are not planning on having any more children. This is very important as after having this procedure, there may not be enough tissue left to accommodate another pregnancy. It is also becoming increasingly common for men to undergo abdominoplasty where they cannot shift their ‘beer belly’ through regular exercise.

What does a typical Abdominoplasty consultation entail?

Prior to meeting your cosmetic surgeon face to face, you should have sent recent and accurate photographs of yourself. Between the pictures you have sent and information gathered at your consultation (including measurements of your abdomen and torso), your cosmetic surgeon will give you a realistic understanding of what is and what is not possible with abdominoplasty.

It is important that you discuss exactly where the incisions and resulting scars will be as different surgeons use different techniques. More often than not this will be along and just below the bikini line, but please make doubly sure you are aware of where the scar(s) will be during your primary consultation.

How is Abdominoplasty performed?

Abdominoplasty is performed under a general anaesthetic, so thankfully, you won’t feel a thing. An incision is made along the bikini line and may go from hip to hip. Excess skin and fat is dissected off the muscles of your abdomen up towards your ribcage and your belly button is removed (don’t worry, you will get it back!).

Once the excess fat and skin has been removed and the abdominal muscles have been tightened, the remaining skin is drawn towards the pubis and stitched into position. A new hole is placed where your belly button would naturally be and you belly button is stitched back in position. You may also be fitted with a drain or two for a few days to allow excess fluid to drain off.

Like any surgical procedure, bruising and swelling will follow but once this has ebbed, you’ll begin to feel like the brand new you.

What should I expect post-operatively?

As with most surgical procedures, you’ll feel like you’ve been beaten up for a few days after undergoing abdominoplasty. You will be able stand and walk, but bed rest is what you really need. As the skin between your ribcage and pubis has been tightened, you will not be able to stand up straight or lay down flat on your back for up to a week after surgery. Remaining bent at least 45° is necessary, especially when spending a few minutes upright and walking around (this is encouraged 3-4 times a day during the first week).

Going through some depression and anxiety during this period is perfectly normal. You’ve undergone a serious operation and will be bruised, swollen and sore. You will be on painkilling drugs and may suffer some depressing side effects, and you’ll be more or less confined to your bed. It’s not going to be a fun time for anyone, but it will pass.

After this first week of bed rest, you’ll have probably read several books & magazines, watched numerous films and are eager to be much more mobile. You may still feel some tightness when you stand up straight, this is perfectly normal and we will keep a close eye on you during this period following your cosmetic surgery. You may also be required to wear a post-operative compression garment for up to 6 weeks after the procedure.

Is there much pain associated with Abdominoplasty?

As with any surgical procedure, you will be left bruised and swollen and this can obviously be uncomfortable. Due to the fact that your tummy has been tightened, you will have to remain bent at 45° for the best part of a week following abdominoplasty. This can and probably will result in lower back pain, but like the bruising, will pass. There are a variety of painkilling drugs and muscle relaxants available, but please consult with your cosmetic surgeon and do not self prescribe.

Where are the scars located involving an Abdominoplasty?

Most cosmetic surgeons make the main incision horizontally below the bikini line in a place where it can be hidden by your underwear or a standard bikini. At time of writing, there is no method of performing a tummy tuck leaving no scaring.

Is there a lot of swelling involved with Abdominoplasty?

Yes, there will be some selling but this will reduce in time. Abdominoplasty does not give instant results so you must allow yourself enough time to let the swelling and bruising go before you can enjoy the results.

When Can I return to work?

Most patients return to work after two weeks. Don’t be tempted to go back to work any sooner than your surgeon advises and if you have a job which involves lifting, pulling or manual labour, you should request to be put on light duties for an additional few weeks until you’re fighting fit.

When will I be able to see the results?

Simple answer is…. not straight away. The procedure is very invasive and in spite of a quantity of fat and skin being removed, you will suffer from bruising and swelling. Once the drains have been removed and the swelling begins to subside, you will start to see a difference. Don’t expect instant results. Give yourself time and you wont be disappointed

What are the risks of Abdominoplasty?

Any surgery performed under a general anaesthetic comes with a risk. Abdominoplasty also has it’s own set of risks, which include the risk of the fat and surrounding tissue becoming necrotic due to lack of blood supply. This can cause a die off of fat cells and in the unlikely event that this occurs, the necrotic tissue must be removed before an infection develops, which could become gangrenous.

Although this is incredibly rare, it is more likely amongst smokers. For this and many other reasons, it is essential that you quit smoking for three weeks before surgery and a good two-three weeks after surgery.

Pulmonary Thromboemboli is another potential risk. In layman’s terms, this is a blood clot which can break free from where it formed and travel through the veins to the lungs. This can cause difficulty breathing and left untreated, can result in cardiac arrest or coma. Pulmonary Thromboemboli can happen up to three weeks after surgery, however symptoms usually show themselves within the first 72 hours after surgery. Early symptoms include shortness of breath and fatigue.

Our nurses, who’ll be visiting you every day as you recover will be looking out for symptoms such as these. If you have any concerns at all as you recover, please don’t keep them to yourself.

How long does an Abdominoplasty last?

The skin will naturally stretch if you put on excessive weight, or go through pregnancy. As long as you keep yourself relatively fit and trim, and do not have another pregnancy, abdominoplasty will last for many many years.

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