Length of operation: From 2 to 3 hours
Type of anaesthesia: General
Length of stay in hospital: 2 nights hospital stay
Time off work: 2 to 3 weeks after operation
About abdominoplasty: An abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgery procedure to remove loose abdominal skin and fat and make the abdomen flatter and firmer. Pregnancy, weight-loss and the natural ageing process can leave behind excess, sagging skin around the stomach area. No amount of exercise can banish skin laxity, particularly in the presence of stretch marks. Non-invasive treatments generally do not work, either. Abdominoplasty removes this excess fat and skin from the abdomen and also tightens the rectus (six pack) muscle.
A full abdominoplasty is required when patient has sagging lower abdominal skin and fat plus a weakness in the underlying muscle layer. A mini or modified abdominoplasty can be performed when patient has good muscle tone, but there is limited lower abdominal skin laxity.
It is a common practice for patients to combine tummy tuck surgery with other procedures such as liposuction and breast surgery.
Suitable candidate: If any one or a combination of the following conditions trouble you – excess or sagging abdominal skin, a disproportionately large or protruding abdomen, abdominal muscles that have been separated and weakened – then you would be a good candidate for abdominoplasty.
Reasons not to go ahead: patients on blood thinning medicine, active smoking, overweight patients, patients planning to have children and patients who do not want any scarring.
Pre op: You can discuss your expectations, learn about the surgery and clarify any doubts you might have at the consultation. The surgeon will perform an examination in order to be able to assess your individual needs and discuss the results in length with you.
On the day: If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, you will receive advice about what to do and what to avoid, prior to surgery. Drains are inserted under the abdominal skin to remove any excess blood or fluid for the first 24 to 48 hours. These drains are then removed, the patient is discharged home. The incision site will covered with tape and you may have a firm, elasticated band that promotes proper healing ( binder). Your surgeon will also instruct you on how to best care for the healing wound and how to position yourself while sitting or lying down to help ease pain. Most patients are discharged after two nights in the hospital. An appointment is made for removal of sutures a week following surgery and for a further review in two weeks after surgery.
Post op: The abdomen feels tight for the first few days after the operation and patients are not able to stand fully erect. The abdominal support garment must be worn constantly for the first 4 weeks, and only during the day for a further month. Strenuous exercise must be avoided for about 4 to 6 weeks.
Convalescence: Within a week or two of the procedure, swelling will begin to reduce and you should be able to stand tall fully upright. It may take up to six to twelve months for your abdominal area to settle completely so that you can see the full results of your abdominoplasty.
Risks and complications: A small percentage of patients can have complications just like for any surgical procedure. These will be discussed in detail during your initial consultation.
Infection – can be usually readily treated with an antibiotic.
Haematoma (blood clot under the skin) or bleeding – a re-visit to the operating theatre may be necessary.
Wound breakdown and delayed healing of the wound – particularly true in case of diabetic patients or those who smoke. This needs to be discussed with the surgeon during the consultation stage.
Scars – scarring will normally heal well, but will differ from patient to patient.
There may be a change in sensation over the abdomen.
Effects of the procedure: Your abdomen should remain firmer and flatter for many years, unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight or become pregnant, However, gravity and the effects of ageing will eventually take their toll. If, after a period of years, you again become dissatisfied with the appearance of your abdomen, you may choose to undergo a second procedure to restore a more youthful body contour.