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Tummy Tuck, frequently asked questions (Abdominoplasty)

Women and men who have loose abdominal skin and fat that is concentrated in the abdomen can benefit from abdominoplasty.  Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to remove excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen to tighten the abdominal muscles. 

Sometimes these conditions are inherited.  In other instances, weight loss may cause abdominal skin to become flaccid and pregnancy may weaken and separate the abdominal muscles.  The procedure can also remove some abdominal scars and stretch marks.

Q. Am I a good candidate for abdominoplasty?

A. You may be a good candidate for abdominoplasty if you have one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Excess or sagging abdominal skin
  2. Abdomen that protrudes and is out of proportion to the rest of your body
  3. Weak and stretched abdominal muscles

Q. How will my plastic surgeon evaluate me for abdominoplasty?

A. At your consultation, your plastic surgeon will examine you standing up as well as lying down.  Your skin tone, the amount of excess fat and the condition of your abdominal muscles will all be assessed.

You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your past history which will include any previous surgeries, particularly abdominal, any medical conditions, including regular medication prescribed by your GP, any allergies and any previous pregnancies.

Abdominoplasty will much improve your appearance and renew your self confidence; but your mental attitude and emotional stability will also help determine a successful outcome.

Q. How is abdominoplasty performed and where will my scars be?

A. The procedure will be performed under general anaesthetic.  Excess skin and fat is removed from the lower abdomen and the abdominal muscles tightened.  The exact extent and type of procedure will be determined by individual factors and personal preferences.  Recontouring of the abdomen is achieved by removing (excising) excess skin and fat from the lower tummy, freeing up the skin of the upper abdomen and re-draping this in a more satisfactory fashion across the tummy.

Although scars are the result of any surgery, your surgeon will make every effort to make the scars as inconspicuous as possible.  It is usually possible to leave a horizontal line just above the pubic region within the bikini area.  Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may also require your navel to be re-sited in a more youthful position leaving you with some small scars at this site.  Scarring is an individual characteristic and can vary from patient to patient.

Q. I understand that every surgical procedure has risks or side effects but I want to learn more so that I can make an informed decision.

A. Every year many thousands of people undergo successful aesthetic surgery of the abdomen, experience no major problemsand are delighted with the result.  Significant complications from abdominoplasty are infrequent but can include bleeding, infection, and occasionally tissue loss along portions of the horizontal incision.  This is most common when the abdominoplasty is extensive and usually prolongs the course of recovery, is an inconvenience but may not affect the end result.  Some conditions are known to increase this complication rate and therefore you should discuss your full past medical history with your consultant surgeon.  Fluid accumulation under the skin may occasionally happen but removal of this by aspiration is straight forward.

Q. What will the day of surgery be like?

A. Your abdominoplasty will be performed under general anaesthetic as an inpatient in hospital.  When surgery is completed you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored by expert recovery staff.  Small tube drains will have been placed under the skin of your abdomen to help prevent the accumulation of fluid.  These will generally be removed after 48 hours.  You will be expected to wear a support girdle around your abdomen and will be looked after in hospital under your drains are removed.

Q. How will I look and feel initially?

A. On the first day after surgery you will feel quite tight in the abdomen and may not be able to stand fully.  You will be encouraged to walk around, avoiding straining, bending or lifting.  You will need to wear your support garment for six weeks after your operation.  There will be no stitches to come out.  Returning to your normal activities is an individual matter but most people return to work within two to four weeks and to more vigorous exercise after six weeks.  There is usually an area of diminished sensation on the abdomen that persists for several months.  Recovery is often an individual matter but severe pain is most uncommon.  Sexual activity can usually be resumed within two to four weeks.

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