Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
Abdominoplasty (“tummy tuck”) is a plastic surgery procedure that removes loose skin and excessive fat from the lower abdomen, as well as tightening the abdominal muscles for improved contour, tone and function of the abdomen
Abdominoplasty is best suited for men and women in relatively good shape, but with loose abdominal skin and fat that won’t respond to dieting or exercise. It also allows surgical repair for the abdominal muscles that may be stretched apart during pregnancy, which leads to lower abdominal bulging despite strengthening of these muscles. Abdominoplasty is not a surgical procedure to correct major weight problems.
Abdominoplasty is the ideal procedure to correct:
- Loose, sagging abdominal skin, that may hang over previous abdominal scars such as caesarian section or appendicectomy scars
- Excess fat in the abdominal area
- A protruding abdomen
- Abdominal muscles weakened by pregnancy (particularly after several pregnancies or twins), or ageing
Types of Abdominoplasty/Tummy Tuck
There are several different types of abdominoplasty techniques, depending upon your own body habitus, the degree of muscle weakness and skin stretch and overall contour problem. Whenever possible, our plastic surgeon, Dr Steve Merten, will always recommend the technique that will give you the best result to correct your concerns, and balance this with your own recovery and lifestyle concerns.
“Mini” tummy tuck
Mini-abdominoplasty is helpful if you have less skin looseness, and it is mostly restricted to the lower abdomen below the bellybutton. It is best if there is less need for major muscle tightening. The scar is kept short above the pubic area, and is shorter than the full or standard abdominoplasty. Loose fat and skin are removed from the area above the pubis, and some additional liposuction is often also done to improve the overall shape. In mini-abdominoplasty, the belly button is not moved, and little work is done above the level of the bellybutton. Unlike the full abdominoplasty, therefore, there is no scar around the bellybutton. However, because there is less muscle tightening, recovery is usually quicker and less uncomfortable.
Standard abdominoplasty (see our Animated Video of this procedure below)
This is traditionally termed “radical” abdominoplasty, but is, in fact, the most common abdominoplasty technique. The cut and final scar go from hip-to-hip, and are longer than the mini-abdominoplasty. In the standard abdominoplasty the belly button is cut around and freed from the skin, which is pulled down to allow maximal removal. Standard abdominoplasty allows for the abdominal muscles to be tightened full length, from pubic bone to breastbone. The bellybutton is brought out through a new hole at the end of the procedure. Standard abdominoplasty gives a more widespread contour improvement than the mini-abdominoplasty, and is the typical technique if you require improvement of larger amounts of skin, fat and muscles.
High lateral tension abdominoplasty
“HLT” abdominoplasty is a modification of the standard abdominoplasty, which is suitable for patients who are thin but have lost these waist shape. The technique pulls the waist across more dramatically, which creates maximum mid-abdominal shaping. High lateral tension abdominoplasty may, however, result in a longer and higher scar, which may not suit every patient.
Abdominoplasty is a significant plastic surgery operation and is undertaken in hospital, usually with a stay of several days. The surgery takes between two and three hours, and is often combined with other body contouring procedures, such as breast augmentation/enlargement, breast reduction or lifts, and liposuction of the trunk or thighs.
Abdominoplasty is usually recommended after you have finished having your children and your weight is stable. For abdominoplasty after major weight loss or bariatric surgery, it is usually best to wait until you are close to your ideal weight and your health and nutrition is normal.
Watch our Animation of the Tummy Tuck Procedure
Before and After Gallery
Your surgeon will also discuss the possible risks of surgery, and how these would be managed; this allows you to make an informed decision. A second consultation is done closer to the surgery date, to ensure the right choices have been made for you.
What does abdominoplasty entail?
During abdominoplasty, an incision will be made around the pubic area. Dr. Merten will do the best he can to make the incision within your swimsuit lines for less visibility. Following the primary incision, Dr. Merten repairs the stretched muscles, then pulls down and removes the excess loose skin. Your umbilicus (belly button) is then repositioned into it’s new position. Drainage tubes will be placed under the skin to help prevent any fluid buildup. After the procedure, it is usual to have moderate discomfort, and you will be provided with pain medication to help alleviate these symptoms.
To promote blood circulation, you will be encouraged to get up and move around soon after surgery. Bending and lifting, however, should be avoided at this stage. Sleeping on your back with your knees up may also be recommended for the first few weeks after surgery.
The abdominoplasty procedure is typically performed using a general anesthetic. You will be required to stay at a hospital for a few days after surgery. Dr. Merten advises his patients to take several weeks off work to optimise the healing process. Scars from abdominoplasty usually fade over six to twelve months after surgery.
Are there other options?
Sometimes, a traditional tummy tuck procedure may not be the best option to suit your aesthetic needs. In this case, Dr. Merten offers “mini” abdominoplasty procedures, which are used to only treat the lower abdomen area. There is typically less scarring associated with a “mini” abdominoplasty.
If you only want to treat a small area of your abdomen, liposuction alone may be an ideal solution for your needs. Liposuction is used to eliminate excess abdominal fat, but does not tighten the muscles or skin in the abdominal area.
Are there safety concerns associated with a tummy tuck?
Dr. Merten takes every step to perform abdominoplasty in the safest way possible. Although there are complications associated with this procedure, these risks will discussed with you during your preoperative consultations.
How should I prepare for my abdominoplasty?
Dr. Merten will provide you with specific instructions before abdominoplasty to help you attain the best possible results. Some of his instructions include:
Avoid certain medications
Avoid smoking 6 weeks before and after surgery
Arrange post-surgical care, including a ride home or in-home care after your hospital stay
After six weeks, you will no longer be required to wear your compression garment and you should be able to resume daily activities. Dr. Merten advises patients to avoid excess sun exposure so scars can heal quicker.
When will I see my results and how long will they last?
During the healing process, you will notice that your abdomen area is firmer and sleeker. To maintain long-lasting results, Dr. Merten recommends regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Aging and fluctuation in weight may loosen your abdominal skin, and Dr. Merten can provide you with an additional surgical treatment to help restore your abdominal shape.