Abdominoplasty, often referred to as a tummy tuck, is an operation to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall and to remove excess skin folds and fatty tissues from the middle and lower abdominal region. A tummy tuck can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen and lead to a flatter, firmer stomach. Liposuction is often performed alongside this cosmetic procedure for optimum results.
In today’s body-conscious society, greater attention is directed to our size and shape. We use exercise and diet to try to control any bodily changes however certain areas of our body can become stubbornly resistant to any improvements and in some individuals the localised deposits of fat in the abdominal region combined with muscle laxity can make any hopes of a ‘flat tummy’ very difficult to achieve.
FAQs for Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty)
This will be decided at your consultation. During your consultation, Mr Karidis will ask you about your general medical history including details about any previous abdominal surgery, or childbirth (where relevant!). Women who plan to become pregnant imminently should usually postpone the operation until after their family is complete.
If you are a smoker you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Smoking seriously constricts blood vessels and therefore decreases blood flow to a given area resulting in poor healing. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications can cause increased bleeding, so you must avoid these. You have to remember that an abdominoplasty is not performed for overweight individuals and thus a patient should have a weight that is within 10-15% of their ideal weight.
Remember to always be open in discussing your expectations at the consultation. Mr Karidis will also be frank with you and together you will work at choosing the procedure that is right for you and which will come closest to achieving the desired result.
In certain borderline situations abdominoplasty can be performed in individuals whose weight is perhaps slightly above it being within their 10% of ideal weight (i.e. 15%). This can be technically performed with some success, but with the understanding of a couple of provisos.
First is that, the result will not be as ideal as it would be by getting you to within your 10% of ideal weight, and that secondly further secondary procedures, i.e. liposuction may be required, or that further weight reduction will be necessary to further improve the result. Abdominoplasty in these situations is usually performed to basically remove the obviously loose, hanging skin, which does not go with even the most diligent of exercises and diet, and that the hope is that this will act as an incentive or motivation for you to pursue further weight reduction.
There are a number of variations in the technique of abdominoplasty. The decision will be based on the quality of your skin, the presence of stretch marks, the laxity of your muscles, and the amount and distribution of fat. A definite decision can only be made at the consultation after a proper examination. However, broadly speaking, if you have loose muscle and excess skin in both the upper and lower abdominal areas with only modest fat deposits you will most likely require a full abdominoplasty.
Occasionally, what is called a ‘mini’ abdominoplasty is performed. This may be appropriate in certain patients who have loose skin confined mainly to the lower abdominal area, from the belly button downwards, but have retained good skin and muscle tone above the belly button, and with little or no excess fat.
Alternatively, if this is accompanied by modest excess fat in the upper abdomen then liposuction may be used in conjunction with the ‘mini tuck’ to improve the result. However please note that in Mr Karidis’s experience, very few patients are suitable for this ‘mini’ tuck. It would also be fair and reasonable to state that the term ‘mini tuck’ is actually a misnomer as the scar is still about 10 inches long and therefore cannot be deemed very ‘mini’.
Pain and discomfort are subjective sensations but it is true to say that an abdominoplasty is considered one of the more painful procedures. Appropriate pain killers will keep you comfortable. Compared however to a caesarean section delivery, which requires cutting into the muscles to deliver the baby, an abdominoplasty, which only tightens the muscles on a more superficial level, is significantly less painful.
Any pain is probably more noticeable when standing or and walking in the first few days following surgery and usually involves the upper half of the tummy. Some patients report the sides (flanks)-which sometimes need some liposuction to contour the waist – as being more painful than the abdomen. Thus for the first week or so you will need to take regular painkillers in order to minimise this.
As already explained the scar length will be substantial. These normally extend from hip to hip above the pubic area in a slightly curved but horizontal line. At times it may be necessary to add a small vertical component to this and therefore the appearance may be likened to an upside-down ‘T’.
Although all surgeons try to suture the incision as neatly as possible, it is ultimately impossible to predict a scars’ eventual appearance. In fact, very rarely can abdominoplasty scars be described as hairline. You must understand that due to the normal healing response these always appear red, raised and lumpy in the first few months after surgery, but do tend to settle with time. A silicone gel sheet will be provided for you and which will help the appearance of the scars.
However, it may take up to 18 or 24 months to do so. Stretching and prominence of all or parts of the scar, however, can occur. If necessary, and when deemed appropriate, it may be necessary to revise a scar to try to improve its appearance. This will be discussed at the follow-up consultations.
Tips from the Top
Senior Nurse Suzi says:
A balanced healthy diet, rich in protein will help you heal from surgery – try drinking a fresh green juice every morning.
Write down any questions and take them into your consultation with Mr Karidis – that way you won’t forget anything.
Prepare your body for surgery by keeping it soft and supple by moisturising skin twice daily (avoid vitamin E containing products).
Always wear sun block (SPF 50+) over surgery scars to stop pigmentation.
Stock up on comfy lounge wear for after your surgery – front opening tops are ideal.