Abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is a body contouring technique which refers to a range of surgical procedures that address excess abdominal skin and fat to improve the aesthetic appearance of the abdomen. Some of the commonly performed procedures include: mini-abdominoplasty, full abdominoplasty and fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty. Sometimes abdominoplasty is used in combination with liposuction to achieve the desired body contour.

Who is suitable for abdominoplasty?

Both women and men may have an abdominoplasty. Excess abdominal skin and fat can be a problem for example after pregnancy or weight loss, where diet and exercise alone will not help. The excess abdominal skin hangs over the waistline like an apron and can appear unsightly. Abdominoplasty is not suitable for patients who seek weight loss by means of surgery.

What areas can be treated?

The primary goal is to remove excess skin and fat overlying the anterior abdominal wall. In some cases, patients who have a loosening of the muscles of the anterior abdominal wall and will need to have this tightened surgically at the same time as the abdominoplasty.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is carried out under general anaesthesia. I will mark your abdomen before surgery so that the resulting scar will lie within or as close as possible to the undergarment/bikini line to make it less visible. If liposuction is to be carried out this is performed first. Following this the actual abdominoplasty is performed removing the excess skin and fat. Muscle tightening procure is performed where appropriate. The wound is sutured with absorbable sutures placed under the skin to minimise scarring.  A padded dressing is placed on the scar, and all patients are put in elasticated compression garments to reduce swelling and give a narrow waist.

What happens after the operation?

Normally patients stay one to two nights in the hospital. You are encouraged to mobilise after the operation, discomfort permitting. Patients can expect to be off work and driving for 2-4 weeks, gentle sporting activity for 6 weeks and contact sports for 3 months. The benefits of abdominoplasty should become evident fully by 3-6 months after the operation. The scars take anything up to 12-18 months to reach their final state and patients will be encouraged to start massaging the scars from 6 weeks post-operatively.

How long do the results last?

The benefits of body contouring procedures can last a life time. However, if the patient gains weight excessively for example, the shape of the anterior abdominal wall can return to the pre-operative state. Therefore it is essential for patients to maintain their results by adopting normal diet and exercise.

What are the risks of abdominoplasty?

There is a substantial amount of evidence that suggests a strong link between increased weight, smoking and hormone therapy/diabetes on increasing complications, particularly wound healing, infection and blood clots. Minor wound Infection and wound dehiscence are the most common complications, followed by bleeding and/or fluid accumulation under the skin.

Fleur-de-Lys abdominoplasty (includes a midline incision) in a patient that has lost 10 stone

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This lady had liposuction to the flanks and full abdominoplasty. The after photos are taken two months after surgery

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Full abdominoplasty with 360 liposuction (abdomen, flanks, lower back); results at 10 weeks

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