There are a variety of abdominoplasty procedures available, and operations can be tailored to suit a patient’s wishes and needs. Generally speaking, however, tummy tucks are most commonly carried out to remove excess skin, unwanted scars, stretch marks and fat, and to tighten the stomach muscles.
The ideal patient is someone whose weight is normal, particularly those who have been overweight and have lost the excess weight. Abdominoplasty is not an operation for people who are overweight, or as an attempt at losing weight. In appropriate patients abdominoplasty can have a very marked effect and is associated with high patient satisfaction.
Mini-abdominoplasty is used when surplus skin below the umbilicus is removed leaving a low abdominal scar at the level of the pubic hair.
For patients who have significant skin laxity, excess fat and separation of the muscles, a classic tummy tuck is the most common procedure. Performed under general anaesthetic, this operation can require patients to be in hospital for two or three days. During the operation, an incision is made from hip to hip and around the umbilicus. The excess skin and fat is excised from the umbilicus to just above the pubic hair. The muscles above and below the umbilicus are tightened. The skin is then sewn up to give a circular scar around the umbilicus and a long scar across the lower abdomen. Although this operation leaves a large scar, it does provide the greatest improvement in abdominal shape.
Liposuction can sometimes be done at the same time as the abdominoplasty. However, liposuction can be recommended instead of an abdominoplasty for younger patients who have good quality, elastic skin and whose main problem is a localized excess of fat. A general anaesthetic is most commonly used, but treatment can often be as a day case. During the procedure, small incisions are made, excess fat is removed and the wounds are then closed. Some degree of skin tightening or shrinkage can be expected as well, but the results of liposuction can sometimes be unpredictable. Liposuction alone will have less effect than abdominoplasty.
What should I expect in terms of treatment, procedures and outcomes?
You will be admitted on the day of surgery, and your length of stay depends on which procedure is done. With a full abdominoplasty you will have some dressings on your tummy and usually some drains (plastic tubes attached to suction bottles). The drains will usually be removed before you go home. Patients will be mobile from day one and should be back to full exercise within six weeks. Patients are recommended to take two weeks off work immediately after the operation in order to ensure they recuperate fully.