A tummy tuck or "abdominoplasty" is a procedure performed on both men and women that involves removing excess fat and loose or sagging skin from the lower and central abdomen. The goal of a Tummy Tuck is to create a firmer, flatter abdomen and a tighter silhouette. It is commonly performed after pregnancy, massive weight loss, or to treat areas that just won't respond to diet and exercise.
The surgery can be combined with liposuction to help reduce the overall size of the tummy and waist. It can also help repair abdominal muscles weakened by pregnancy.
The best candidates are men or women who have reached a sustainable, safe body weight for at least six months and have no horizontal upper abdominal scars. For women, you should have no plans for a future pregnancy.
You can benefit from a tummy tuck if you have excess sagging skin following pregnancy (see Mommy Makeover), stubborn belly fat that is diet and exercise resistant, or loose skin as a result of massive weight loss. If you have a personal history or family history of breast cancer, it’s important to know that standard abdominoplasty eliminates the possibility of using the abdomen as a source for making a new breast. Furthermore, you can’t be a smoker as the risks of serious complications, including wound healing problems and breathing problems around the time of the surgery, rise drastically in smokers. You must be emotionally mature, understand your motivations for having this procedure, and have realistic expectations about what the surgery can achieve.
During your initial consultation, your surgeon will do a physical examination and go over all your concerns and expectations. As every patient is individual -- your age, weight, bone structure and the condition of your skin can all impact the final result -- your surgeon will discuss the procedure that best fits your goals and body. At this time, you will be given a basic understanding of the procedure, including how it can help, how it's performed, what results you can expect, and any risks and limitations.
Day surgery, general anaesthetic
Surgery time is 2-3 hours.
Recovery room 2 hours
Return to work 2-3 weeks.
Resume exercise 6 weeks.
A tummy tuck addresses both the inside and outside of the abdomen. Common options for tummy tuck include full abdominoplasty, mini-abdominoplasty, vertical abdominoplasty, and full body contouring. The surgery is usually performed as a day-care surgery, which means an overnight hospital stay is not required, with the occasional exception of a massive weight loss patient who may be required to stay overnight. The traditional tummy tuck surgery usually takes between 2-3 hours.
Full or traditional abdominoplasty is the most common tummy tuck performed. Known as the gold standard of all of the procedures, it allows for recontouring of the entire abdomen from the pubic region up to the rib cage, including:
The procedure results in a scar around the belly button and a scar that runs all along the lower abdomen below the bikini line, similar to but a bit longer than a C-section scar.
A mini-abdominoplasty is a procedure which removes limited skin and fat below the belly button only. It may result in a slightly shorter scar than the traditional tummy tuck and spares the scar around the belly button. However, it is not a good option for patients who have lost a lot of weight or who have a lot of excess fat, stretched-out skin, or rectus muscle separation in the upper abdomen.
Vertical abdominoplasty is a procedure reserved for patients who have had a massive weight loss. Like traditional abdominoplasty, it leaves a horizontal scar hidden under the bikini line as well as a vertical scar extending from the pubic region up to just below the belly button. The addition of the vertical scar helps to narrow the waist.
Circumferential abdominoplasty (belt lipectomy or lower body lift) is reserved for patients with massive weight loss who require recontouring and removal of hanging skin and fat from both the abdomen and lower back/buttock regions. It involves making incisions all the way around the lower abdomen and back ("circumferentially") to remove excess hanging skin and fat.
Liposuction (link) is often done with the tummy tuck to help reduce fat at the front of the abdomen, the pubic region, and the love handles (flanks). This allows for improved contouring and helps to better define the waistline. Liposuction alone will not tighten or remove excess, stretched-out skin. Liposuction may also be done to other troublesome areas, such as the thighs, arms, and back at the time of the tummy tuck. Other procedures may sometimes be combined with a tummy tuck, such as a Mommy Makeover, breast lift, breast augmentation, or brachiaplasty (arm lift).
Simple activities are possible within a few days but heavy lifting should be avoided for a few weeks, so parents of young children may want extra help during this time. Patients wear a special girdle-like garment for 4-6 weeks after surgery to help reduce swelling and improve the final result. When muscle repair is performed, you should not resume a full exercise programs until at least 6 weeks after surgery. Any scarring is hidden in the waistline under clothing and swim suits and it takes 6-12 months for the scars to fade. The results from abdominoplasty can take up to 6 months, and produces a dramatic but natural look that most patients find extremely satisfying.
As in any surgery, risks include infection, scarring, delayed wound healing, bleeding, and anesthetic reaction. Risks specific to this procedure include asymmetry, distortion of navel, seroma, and numb skin. Complications in this procedure are relatively uncommon but will be discussed further at the time of consultation.