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Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is a Tummy Tuck?

The goal of a tummy tuck, or an abdominoplasty is to remove excess, wrinkled skin, and subcutaneous fat from the abdomen.  When necessary, the underlying muscles may also be tightened resulting in a smoother, flatter abdominal area.

Who are the best candidates for a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck is suitable for men and women who are in good health, with excess fat deposits, or loose skin around the belly, that does not respond to diet or exercise.  An abdominoplasty is effective for tightening their abdominal muscles and reducing skin.

Who should not consider a Tummy Tuck?

A woman planning to get pregnant should not have a tummy tuck until they are finished having children. During pregnancy the vertical abdominal muscles separate allowing for expansion of the abdominal cavity. In an abdominoplasty, vertical muscles are tightened which would, during future pregnancies, become undone. For people planning to lose a large amount of weight, a tummy tuck is not recommended because it is not an alternative to weight loss.

How is Abdominoplasty Surgery performed?

There are several techniques that may be used to perform an abdominoplasty and the most common involves a “u” shaped incision that extends across the lower abdomen from one hipbone to the other. A second incision is usually required, around the navel, and the skin is separated from the abdomen and lifted up.  When required, abdominal muscles are tightened and excess skin and fat is removed. The navel is reconstructed before the incision is closed and the procedure time varies with the amount of tissue to be removed.

What type of anaesthesia will I have for my Tummy Tuck?

General Anaesthesia is typically used for a full tummy tuck and for a mini tummy tuck, your procedure can sometimes be performed under Light Sleep IV Sedation.   For patients requiring muscle repair, general anaesthesia is used because of the involuntary contraction of abdominal muscles in patients who are not deeply anesthetized.

What is recovery like after a Tummy Tuck?

Swelling, bruising, and discomfort are moderate after a tummy tuck and resolve in a few weeks.  Your surgeon will provide you with pain medication and specific instructions to help speed your recovery.  Strenuous activities should be avoided and a support garment must be worn for several days (sometimes weeks) to aid in the healing process.  Since a tummy tuck is major surgery, it will take time to see the full benefits.

What is a complete Abdominoplasty?

A complete tummy tuck is usually recommended for patients with a lot of excess skin that is typically seen after pregnancy or massive weight loss.  This procedure involves the removal of excess fat and skin from the lower abdominal region, and the muscles in the middle of the abdomen are often tightened as well.

What is a mini Abdominoplasty?

A mini, or partial, tummy tuck is for patients who have minimal excess skin in the lower abdominal region and a smaller incision is made below the bikini line.  The skin is tightened and the muscles may or may not be pulled together.  Recovery is less than a full tummy tuck and this procedure does not tighten the upper abdomen.

What complications can arise after a Tummy Tuck?

Although rare, bleeding and infection are risks of any surgery, as well as fluid collection, asymmetry and poor scarring.  You can help reduce any complications by following all of your surgeon’s postoperative instructions.

What about Tummy Tuck scarring?

The scars from a tummy tuck are low on the abdomen, so they are usually hidden, and a full abdominoplasty will also leave a scar around the belly button, which is not very noticeable.

What are some of the techniques used in a Tummy Tuck?

There are several incision methods and surgical techniques used when performing an abdominoplasty that may include endoscopic rectus diastasis correction, reverse abdominoplasty, and vertical scar abdominoplasty.  After your complete examination, your chosen surgeon will be able to determine which option is best for you.

How do I know whether or not I only need a mini Tummy Tuck or a full Tummy Tuck (FTT)?

Only a Reconstructive Consultant Plastic Surgeon will be able to determine which technique is best for your needs, however, if you have a considerable pooch and your abdominal fascia and muscles are stretched out, normally a full tummy tuck is required.  If you have tight muscles and minimally loose skin, you may qualify for a mini-tummy tuck.

How do I know if I need Muscle Repair (MR)?

If you have been pregnant or overweight for some time, the fascia covering your abdominal muscles may have stretched and no amount of exercise and diet will correct the problem.  If you are at a healthy body fat percentage and the fascia is stretched, the “pooch” that you see is normally the visceral fat and organs pressing against the overlying fascia.  Your surgeon will be able to determine if you need muscle repair, after a full physical examination.

Do non-surgical Tummy Tuck methods work?

The skin tightening effects of non-surgical methods, such as lasers or radio-frequency (RF) cannot give you the significant improvement a tummy tuck surgery can, nor do their benefits last.  They also have no effect on the underlying muscles and fascia.

Can I get Liposuction or Breast Surgery at the same time as my Tummy Tuck?

Many patients commonly get complementary liposuction around the treatment area (flanks and hips) for contouring and a breast lift procedure however this is entirely dependent upon your health and what your surgeon recommends.

How long will I have to stay slightly bent over?

For the majority of patients, the inability to stand up straight lasts no more than two weeks, you will notice that even after that period of time you may still bend your knees slightly to compensate for your surgery.  The length of time it will take you to stand up completely straight depends on the tightness at the incision line and underlying muscles, as well as the amount of tissue removed and your personal pain tolerance.

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