Tummy Tuck

What is a tummy tuck?

Abdominoplasty, known more commonly as a “tummy tuck”, is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall.

How is a tummy tuck performed?

This type of procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic and requires at least one night’s hospitalisation and often three to four days in hospital. The length of skin incision and therefore the type and position of the final scar will be determined by the deformity you have and the need to tighten the abdominal muscles to achieve a flat abdomen. The looser the abdominal skin and the more pendulous the fatty tissue apron of the lower abdomen, the longer must be the scar across the abdomen. This is so because of the geometry of the operation and has to do with the relative lengths of the base and hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle.

Your surgical practitioner will explain this because you need to appreciate why the transverse scar may need to be as long as it is. All efforts are made to keep this scar as short as possible and to locate it low on the abdomen. It is sometimes not possible to reduce the fullness of the fatty tissue in the upper abdomen for fear of decreasing the circulation to the lower abdominal skin. In the interests of safety, this may need to be done at a subsequent procedure by liposuction. However, in most cases where less undermining of the skin is required, reduction of all fatty tissue may be possible.

The wounds on the abdomen and around the umbilicus are sutured and often only dissolving sutures are used. This wound is supported with plastic skin or micropore tape for up to six weeks to give it every chance to develop a fine scar.

What are the risks and complications of a tummy tuck?

  • Scarring
  • Numbness
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Skin death or necrosis
  • Wound healing problems
  • Vein thrombosis
  • Seroma (collection of fluid beneath the skin)