What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is invasive cosmetic surgery which removes excess fat and skin from the stomach, as well as tightening the muscles in the abdominal wall. It is a different procedure to liposuction, although the two are often performed together. As this is a major surgical intervention it is important to understand the procedure before going ahead. Both men and women, who are in good general health, can undergo an abdominal tuck. This procedure will result in some residual scarring, but most people are more than happy with the results. Maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise will make sure the good work isn't undone.

Why is an Abdominoplasty Performed?

This cosmetic operation is useful for women who find their abdominal muscles and stomach skin are loose after several pregnancies. It is advisable to wait until a family is complete before opting for surgery, as future pregnancies may separate the tightened vertical muscles. Both men and women who have considerably reduced their body weight through dieting can choose this procedure. It gives a boost to self-confidence through the removal of excess fat and folds of skin.

Different Types of Abdominoplasty

A complete tuck is a lengthy and radical procedure which involves cutting from hipbone to hipbone and the removal of the belly button. Skin, tissue and muscle are then removed and sculpted as necessary by the surgeon and the belly button replaced. A less radical option for those whose fat deposits are located below the navel is a mini-tuck. This operation is fairly quick and it is not necessary to remove the belly button. Both operations involve a general anaesthetic, some post-op drainage and an overnight stay in hospital.

Preparation for Tummy Tuck Surgery

Informative websites, such as WebMD, explain the preparation needed before this operation. Patients should feel confident in their surgeon's skill and that their motives for the operation have been understood. As with all major procedures and general anaesthetics, smoking can cause serious complications and smokers will be advised to quit totally at least two weeks in advance. A balanced diet, including plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables will help the body prepare for the healing process.

Tummy Tuck After-Care and Prognosis

Patients will be sore with reduced mobility for a few days post-op, so will need assistance at home. An elastic abdominal corset will be worn for a period post-op to support the surgery. Strenuous physical activity will have to be avoided for up to six weeks. Pain medication will have been prescribed, which should be taken as directed and stitches will need to be removed around a week post-op. Some numbness and bruising will be present for the first few days, but ice-packs will help reduce these. Post-op fatigue and some soreness might last for several weeks. Rare, but possible, complications include infection, blood clots or internal bleeding. Very rarely, poor healing might necessitate a further operation. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons offers further useful information and advice on this procedure.

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