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A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, targets weakened muscles and loose skin caused by weight loss or pregnancy. The approach to the operation varies from patient to patient depending on your goals, skin elasticity and skin and muscle quality. A tummy tuck usually involves closing separated muscles to restore firmness and make the stomach flatter.
The operation can be combined with liposuction for those who want to address both excess skin and a weakened muscle state.
If you’re a mother, you may also be interested in the ‘mummy makeover’ which combines the procedure with a breast augmentation or lift and liposuction to restore the body to its pre-pregnancy appearance.
Who is the procedure suitable for?
Those who have lost weight rapidly
After losing weight rapidly, the skin on the stomach can sag and become crepey. Despite your best exercise efforts, you may have difficulty shifting the excess skin. In this circumstance, a tummy tuck can lift and tighten the skin.
Those who are looking to restore their pre-pregnancy figure
A tummy tuck is a common post-pregnancy procedure that is often combined with other procedures like breast augmentation and lift in what’s known as a ‘mummy makeover’. During pregnancy, the muscles can become separated due to the excessive pressure put on them. Diastasis refers to when there is a defined gap of around 2-3 fingers between the abdominal muscles. The separation creates a protrusion or bulge between the middle of the ab muscles.
When the abdominal skin and muscles have stretched beyond the point where they can return to their natural state, you may wish to consider a tummy tuck. There’s a lot of contradictory theories surrounding whether you can repair these muscles with exercise. However, surgery is a definitive way to correct this problem. With the proper rehabilitation exercises, the stomach can become flatter, but the success is often limited, partly due to misunderstanding how the muscles repair in this area.
Unfortunately, diastasis is often coupled with loose and sagging skin. For optimal results, many women opt for a tummy tuck which specifically targets weakened muscles and skin, closing the separated muscles and restoring a firmer and flatter stomach.
What does the procedure involve?
A tummy tuck requires general anaesthesia. The approach to a tummy tuck procedure will vary depending on your cosmetic goals. A tummy tuck can combine surgical methods such as liposuction, skin removal, and muscle tightening. Your skin quality, amount of fat, and muscle strength will determine this.
If the procedure involves repairing ab separation, the surgeon will pay more attention to the skin and muscle, and the surgeon may repair them with internal sutures. The surgeon will then trim the skin and re-drape it, closing the incision with sutures.
You may be required to stay overnight depending on the severity of your operation. Following the surgery, we may recommend you wear surgical drains for a few days.
How long does the procedure take?
The duration of the operation varies from case to case. It can be from 1-5 hours.
How long is recovery?
Patients should be prepared to take up to 3 weeks off work. You will be unable to drive for a few weeks after your operation. You should avoid strenuous activity for up to 6 weeks. Overall recovery usually takes around 2-3 months.
When can results be seen and are they permanent?
The results of a tummy tuck are immediate, but you can expect to experience some swelling that resolves with time. The final outcome will start to be visible after around six months.
The results are permanent; however, your results may change if you decide to have more children or put on weight. If you wish to maintain your results, it's ideal to wait until you have completed your family and can ensure you keep a stable weight without significant fluctuations.
Side effects and risks
Your surgeon will discuss the risks with you during your consultation. They include:
• Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
• Skin discolouration
• Fluid accumulation
• Poor wound healing
• Blood clot
Will my belly button be removed when I have a tummy tuck?
The surgeon may reposition the belly button during a tummy tuck depending on whether it's necessary.
Will there be scarring?
The severity of scarring will depend on the extent of your tummy tuck procedure. Generally, an incision is concealed along the underwear line. It can take up to a year for the scar to begin to fade.
If you have good skin laxity and don’t require much removal of excess skin or fat, a mini tummy tuck might be the best approach. A full tummy tuck which might involve some muscle tightening, removal of excess skin and liposuction is more invasive and would leave a more signigicant scar.
Do I need liposuction or a tummy tuck?
Some patients may not be deemed suitable for a combination of surgeries.
A patient who has less elasticity within their skin and whose skin is therefore sagging will be a more suitable candidate for a tummy tuck. If you’re able to ‘pinch an inch’ of fat in the selected area, you may be a suitable candidate for liposuction. Liposuction targets excess fat, whereas a tummy tuck focuses more on the surrounding muscle and skin. A suitable candidate for liposuction would have good skin tone and elasticity.
The scarring for liposuction will be considerably less, although some patients argue that they prefer the results of a tummy tuck as the results are more dramatic.
Browse our tummy tuck surgery before & after pictures:
Abdominoplasty Surgery Disclaimer
The above before and after photos are by no means guarantees of your results; they will likely vary significantly. Our expert plastic surgeon will take great pride in their advanced surgical techniques. They will fully explain the likely outcomes in terms of aesthetic and scarring.