An abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) involves a horizontally-orientated oval shape of skin and fat being removed from the lower part of your abdomen leaving you with a scar that goes from hip-to-hip at the level of the pubic hair line, and a scar around your belly-button. At the same time, the muscles on the inside are tightened to correct any abdominal weakness or bulge you may have.
What does it involve?
The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic (with you asleep). To achieve the best result possible, additional liposuction to your flanks and other parts of the abdomen is often recommended. You will normally be in hospital for 1-2 days after surgery.
What are the benefits?
An abdominoplasty will remove the excess loose skin and fat of your abdomen. You will, however, put weight back on to your abdomen after the surgery if you do not eat a balanced and healthy diet (i.e. it is not a method of weight-loss!).
How long does the surgery take?
The surgery usually takes around 2.5 hours.
What is the recovery period?
After the surgery the wound will be dressed with medical tape. This is splash-proof and shower-proof (but not bath-proof!). You will be able to shower from the day after surgery, and dab the tape dry with a clean towel, kitchen towel or use a hair-dryer on a cold setting to dry the tapes. Surgical drains (tubes) are not normally used nowadays, as Mr Pacifico often performs a lipoabdominoplasty or “Brazilian tummy-tuck” in which no drains are used.
You will be able to return to sedentary activity (i.e. an office job or light duties) after a minimum of 2-weeks. You should wear some form of abdominal support for 6-weeks after the surgery – this may be in the form of specific post-surgical garments or alternatively supportive underwear that reaches up to the breast crease.
How long before daily activities may be resumed?
Strenuous activity and exercise should be avoided for at least 6-weeks. You should not drive for 4-weeks. This is because if you had to perform an emergency stop or similar manoeuvre the wound may be at risk from seatbelt pressure.
What are the success rates?
Abdominoplasties have a high success rate, but can have minor common “nuisance” problems during the healing process. These include suture spitting (where occasionally dissolvable stitches work there way out of the wound before they have dissolved); mild inflammation around the belly button; and seroma formation (the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen). These can all be dealt with in the clinic setting.
What are the possible complications?
These include wound infection, bleeding or haematoma (a collection of blood in the wound that would mean that you would need to be taken back to theatre to stop the bleeding); delayed wound healing or wound breakdown – if this happens it is more likely to be in the middle of the wound above the pubic area. This may require treatment with dressings or rarely mean you need to go back to theatre for further surgery. In some people scars may be lumpy (known as a hypertrophic or keloid scarring), which may need further treatment. Sometimes the scar may be slightly uneven. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolus (PE) occasionally occur- these are blood clots that may occur in the leg (DVT) and travel to the lung (PE) which may be very serious – fortunately they are not common.