If you have tried to achieve a flatter stomach through diet and exercise, but haven’t had the results you would like, you may find a full or partial abdominoplasty could be the answer. The treatment, also known as a tummy tuck, involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the abdominal area and a tightening of the abdomen wall. Abdominoplasty results in a flatter stomach and a narrower waistline.
It should be remembered that abdominoplasty, whether full or partial, is major surgery which will leave a permanent scar, and shouldn’t be undertaken without full consideration of the pros and cons. We’re here to help you decide if this procedure is right for you.
Both procedures require a general anaesthetic and at least one night in hospital. The full abdominoplasty usually takes two to three hours while the partial abdominoplasty takes one to two.
An incision is made just above the pubic area between the hip bones and a second incision is made to free the navel from surrounding tissue.
After this, the skin is separated from the abdominal wall all the way up to your ribs and a large skin flap is lifted to reveal the vertical muscles in your abdomen. These muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position. This provides a firmer abdominal wall and narrows the waistline.
The skin flap is then stretched down and the excess skin is removed. A new hole is cut for your navel, which is then stitched in place. Finally, the incision is stitched, dressings will be applied, and a temporary tube inserted to drain excess fluid from beneath the skin.
With partial abdominoplasty, the incision between your hips is much shorter and the skin is separated only between the incision line and the navel. The navel itself may not be moved. Once the lower abdominal muscles have been tightened, the skin flap is stretched down, the excess removed and the flap stitched back into place.
Complications are rare, but they can occur.
Post-operative complications associated with full or partial abdominoplasty include infections and blood clots. Infection can be treated with drainage and antibiotics, but you’ll probably have to stay in hospital until you are completely well. You can minimise the risk of blood clots by moving around as soon after surgery as possible.
Complications can also arise from anaesthesia – these will be discussed with you when you attend your initial consultation.
After surgery, there is a small risk of poor healing, which can result in conspicuous scars. This is normally addressed through a second operation.
At this appointment, we will assess the area to be treated and seek to understand the results you would like to achieve. This will help us to determine the best surgical approach, and help to determine if surgery is, indeed, right for you.
If you intend to lose a lot of weight, it’s a good idea to postpone surgery. Also, women who are planning future pregnancies should also wait as the vertical muscles in the abdomen that are tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy. If you have scarring from previous abdominal surgery, your operation may need to be modified.
When it comes to improving the contour of the abdominal area, there may be alternative treatments to consider. If, for example, your fat deposits are limited to the area below your navel, it may be that a partial abdominoplasty is appropriate. On the other hand, you may need to have a complete abdominoplasty in conjunction with liposuction to achieve the look you have in mind. Alternatively, it may be that liposuction alone will provide the best result. During your initial consultation, we will discuss the options available to you.
If you do decide to go ahead with surgery, you need to be in general good health with strong abdominal muscles as this will aid your recovery. In addition, exercise before surgery will help you to heal better. Even people who have never exercised before should begin a programme to lessen the chance of blood clots and to tone muscles.
If you are a smoker you will need to cease at least six weeks before your operation and refrain from smoking for six weeks afterwards. Also, expect your surgery to be postponed if you develop a cold or other type of infection. We want you to be in general good health before your treatment as this leads to a faster recovery and better results.
For a few days after surgery, your abdomen will be swollen and you’re likely to feel some pain and discomfort, though we will prescribe pain relief. Depending on the extent of the surgery, you may be released the next day but it’s normal to have to stay for at least two nights.
Although you may not be able to stand straight at first, you should start walking as soon as possible, partly because this reduces the risk of blood clots.
You’ll need to wear a support garment for 2 – 3 weeks. We’ll give you instructions for showering and changing your dressings. Stitches are usually absorbable although some may need to be removed.
Your scars may appear to worsen during the first 3 months as they heal, but this is normal. It can take up to a year for the scars to flatten out and lighten in colour. And whilst they will never disappear completely, it should be possible to hide the scars with your clothing.
Most people can return to work after a couple of weeks but others need up to a month to rest and recuperate. A healthy lifestyle where you eat well and exercise regularly will help you achieve long-lasting results from full or partial abdominoplasty.
Whilst it is generally a good idea to be as fit as possible before you undergo any surgical procedure, weak abdominal muscles will not affect your recovery from this type of surgery.
This is a significant procedure so don’t expect to feel normal for at least a few days, possibly weeks. We will give you guidance to help ensure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible.
No, but if you are considering abdominoplasty, you should wait until you have finished having children. Life does not always go according to plan and it is safe to have further pregnancies after an abdominoplasty, but it will undo some of the benefits of the surgery and may require a further procedure to correct it.
We will give you a good idea of the results you can expect to achieve when you attend your initial consultation. You may also like to consider making use of our 3D body imaging service which will give you realistic images of what your body will look like post-surgery.
We will give you advice and guidance on keeping your stomach muscles in good shape after surgery. A healthy balanced diet and regular exercise will help.