Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
Excessive, loose or hanging abdominal skin is a condition that frustrates many people because of their inability to improve upon it despite diet and exercise. This loose skin can make it difficult to fit in clothing and tuck in shirts or blouses.
Abdominoplasty, the medical term for what is commonly called a “tummy tuck”, involves removing excess skin and fat from the middle and lower part of the abdomen and often tightening the abdominal muscles. In general, the best candidates for the procedure are those who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by loose abdominal skin that remains and will not respond to diet or exercise. The procedure is especially useful for women whose skin has stretched after pregnancy and in those that have lost weight.
There are several variations of tummy tucks (abdominoplasty) and the decision as to which one is correct will depend upon your anatomy and your expectations.
Where the excess tissue is just on the lower part of the abdomen, a partial abdominoplasty, or mini-tummy tuck, may be an option. When there is considerable laxity or loss of a great deal of weight then other more extensive procedures may be necessary. Your surgeon will guide you the choice of operation explaining in detail the pros and cons of each technique.
Once everything has settled you should feel a greater degree of self-confidence and an ability to chose clothes more fitting to your over-all shape.
Patients present for abdominoplasty with a variety of complaints but but the main reason is excessive, loose or hanging abdominal skin following weight loss that won’t go despite diet and exercise. This weight loss can be considerable.
The precise procedure suggested to you by your specialist surgeon will depend upon examination of specific anatomical features.
These will include excess skin, muscle laxity and any residual fat that may still exist both inside your abdomen and externally under your skin. He/she will bring together all of these factors and together with your expectations, formulate a plan for you.
In general however, surgery involves making an incision that hides low on the abdomen. Through this same abdominoplasty incision a space is created which allows loosening of retaining ligaments allowing the edges to be pulled together at just the right tension. The tummy button is preserved.
There are several possible variations on this technique depending upon your requirements:
Once you and your surgeon have agreed on the precise details of the surgical plan, they will outline a likely recovery, including time frame for return to normal activities including work, management of young children and exercise.
Tummy tuck or (abdominoplasty) is performed under general anaesthesia and therefore you won’t be able to eat or drink for six hours before the operation.
You should expect detailed instructions to be provided by your hospital on exactly what you should and should not do before surgery. The procedure usually takes around 2-3 hours and a 1-2 night stay is usual.
On the day of surgery you will be seen by your surgeon and your anaesthetist pre-operatively. They will discuss with you the procedure and reaffirm the surgical plan. Your anaesthetist will speak to you about previous anaesthetics and provide a plan for minimising the discomfort that you will feel after your operation.
After your surgery is complete you will awake gently in the recovery ward and you will be seen by your surgeon and anaesthetist to make sure that you are comfortable post operatively.
You will then return to your ward. The following morning discharge a plan will be made for you to be reviewed in the outpatient dept for a wound check.
The precise recovery plan as discussed with you pre-operatively and be confirmed by your surgical team and any modifications made. Most surgeons will allow you to return to work in one week and to begin some gentle physical exercise within the first week. As a general rule of thumb, however, following abdominoplasty surgery:
- Most patients who have abdominoplasty are back to work within two weeks
- You will need to wear support garment for two weeks during the day
- You should be able to drive after a week or two
- You’ll be able to walk around straight away but it will be three months before you can run again and around six months before you can do sit-ups
- In terms of discomfort this should be controlled with simple analgesia such as paracetamol.
Frequently asked questions
The results can last for many, many years. If you have no large weight gain or pregnancies after your tummy tuck, then the changes will be relatively permanent. There will be some relaxation of the tissues with age, but not to the extent prior to surgery.
You are usually able to walk after abdominoplasty surgery and you will be encouraged to do so. You should take a short walk three or four times a day for a few minutes each time. You will most likely not be able to stand completely straight and you may be a bit hunched over for several days. The skin of your abdomen may feel tight.
If drains have been inserted, they are usually removed the following day but may be kept in by your surgeon for longer. You should take it easy for at least 2 weeks after surgery. Take it easy, but walk a bit every few hours every day. You will be told to wear an abdominal pressure garment for several weeks after your surgery to hold everything in place while you heal. This is a girdle or a band that fits around your abdomen and holds everything in place during healing.
Some swelling and bruising are normal, but the amount varies from person to person. Recovery from tummy tuck surgery may vary depending on the person and the surgery type..
An abdominoplasty is serious surgery and you must understand there are some serious risks. Your chosen surgeon will explain all commonly occurring complications in detail and will answer any questions that you may have. Do not hesitate to raise any concerns that you may have.
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