Tummy Tuck

About Abdominoplasty

An Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) is designed to give patients a firmer, flatter stomach. It involves the removal of excess fat and skin from the lower abdomen and the tightening of the muscles on the abdominal wall.

An increasingly popular procedure, there are a number of reasons why someone might consider a Tummy Tuck. Pregnancy or substantial weight loss can leave the abdominal muscles weak with skin that can appear loose or saggy. This may not be a problem that can be solved by diet and exercise alone.

Whatever your reasons for considering a Tummy Tuck, the procedure can produce excellent results, helping to minimise the effects of pregnancy and weight fluctuations, resulting in a firmer, flatter stomach. This can give you extra confidence in swimwear or other types of clothing. In most cases, the results are long-lasting, provided you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Pre-Operative Visit With Your Surgeon

During consultation with the surgeon you will discuss your proposed Abdominoplasty. Topics of discussion may include; your general health, your expectations, the proposed outcomes and an examination to determine whether you are a good candidate for the procedure.

You will also meet with one of our nurses to have clinical images (photographs) taken for your file and a set of measurements will be taken in preparation for ordering your post-operative compression garments.

Approximately one week prior to surgery, you will attend the clinic to try on your post-operative compression garment. This is a quick appointment with one of our practice nurses who will fit the garment with you to ensure it will fit appropriately and provide you with optimal post-operative support.

On the day of surgery, your surgeon will visit you in the operating theatres’ holding bay; here he will draw markings on your abdomen to guide him in his management of your surgery.

Whilst in the holding bay, you will be fitted with TED stockings and compression sleeves (SCDs). These are worn to the operating theatre and post-operatively to assist in the prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

Your Procedure

On entering the operating theatres, you will be greeted by your team of highly experienced theatre staff. Your Anaesthetist will conduct a pre anaesthetic consultation, and shortly thereafter, your anaesthetic will be administered. Once you are asleep you will have an indwelling catheter (IDC) inserted which will drain your bladder whilst you are under the anaesthetic. The IDC will remain in place for up to two days post operatively.

During surgery, your surgeon will make a continuous incision from hipbone to hipbone, just above the pubic area. A second incision is made to free the naval from surrounding tissue. Your surgeon will then separate the skin from the abdominal wall all the way up to your ribs, creating a skin flap to reveal the vertical muscles in your abdomen. These muscles are then tightened by pulling them closer together and stitching them into a new position. Once the excess skin is removed, the skin flap is then stretched down to join the wound together and the naval is then reconstructed. Liposuction on your hips or flanks may be performed concurrently, improving the overall result of your Abdominoplasty. 

A drain will be placed into your surgery site to ensure there is no excessive fluid build-up and dressings will be placed over your suture lines and drain sites.

In some cases, it is also possible to have a Mini-Abdominoplasty. In this procedure, the incision is much shorter and the naval may not need to be moved. The skin is separated only between the incision line and the navel. This skin is stretched downward; the excess skin is removed, and it is then stitched back into place.

Abdominoplasty is always performed under general anaesthetic and takes 2 - 3 hours to complete.  You should expect to remain in hospital for three to five nights following your procedure. Revisional surgery is sometimes required to provide optimal results. For example, we may be able to improve upon your scar, once the initial healing process has occurred. Any revisional surgery will be considered only after your wound has completely healed and all swelling has settled.

After Your Procedure

  • Recovery time may vary due to a number of factors such as your body’s own healing process.  Generally, you will be encouraged to mobilise on the day after your surgery.  If you are feeling well enough, you may want to mobilise almost immediately post-operatively.  In any case, early mobilisation will occur with the assistance of your physiotherapist and your nurse.
  • Mobilisation encourages the circulation of the blood throughout your body and thus helps your body heal, as well as decreasing the risks of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
  • You will stay in the hospital for 3-5 days in order to recover enough to go home. 
  • You will have a drain coming from the right side of your abdomen to help remove any excess fluid and encourage healing. This is generally removed before you are discharged; however, sometimes you may go home with a drain still in place.
  • Immediately after surgery, you will be resting in bed in a ‘banana position’ (with your head elevated and your knees bent). In the days following the procedure, you will gradually decrease the amount of bend at your middle, depending on your comfort level. 
  • You will be given Patient Controlled Anaesthesia (PCA) for pain relief in the recovery room, which will assist in managing your pain and aid in early mobilisation post operatively.
  • Some pain or discomfort at your wound and/or drain site can be expected. This will gradually settle and can be managed with oral pain medication.
  • Once your operation is complete, your post-operative garment will be fitted to you in theatre whilst you are still asleep. This must be worn continuously for six weeks, with the exception of showering.
  • You will continue to wear your TED stockings whilst in hospital and upon your discharge, until you are well mobilised at home.
  • You will be visited each day by a physiotherapist while you are in hospital, who will give you a series of breathing and leg exercises to perform. 
  • An appointment to see your surgeon for your post-operative review will be made for you prior to discharge from hospital.

At Home

  • When you return home you will be encouraged to gently mobilise around your home environment, and to go about your normal daily living activities, to the extent to which you feel capable/comfortable. You should gently increase these as you feel stronger.
  • Most people can expect to return to normal activities and work after 3-4 weeks of recuperation at home. 
  • You may notice slight redness, swelling and bruising around the wounds - this is normal. 
  • Any pain should be managed with oral pain medication. 
  • A small amount of discharge from your wounds is normal.
  • You will have dressings over your wound sites. These should be left on until the two to three week post-op review. These dressings are waterproof, so there is no need to cover them to have a shower; however, if the dressings lift before the post-op review, please contact our Clinic Nurse.
  • You must continue to wear your garment for six weeks after surgery and this should only be removed when showering. 
  • Avoid heavy lifting, over exertion, strenuous exercise and any unnecessary strain on your wound for six weeks after surgery.
  • Make sure you remain mobile at home as well as going for short walks, etc.
  • Avoid driving for two weeks and, if necessary, drive short distances only until six weeks after surgery.
  • Post-operative lethargy is often experienced and can last for a month or more after your operation. 
  • You should eat a nutritious diet high in vitamin C and drink plenty of water to help promote wound healing.
  • A post-op review with the clinic nurse will generally be carried out three weeks after your surgery, at which time your dressings will be removed.  
  • If you experience any concerns at any time during your recovery, please contact our Clinic Nurse.

Things To Look Out For

Surgery is not without its risks and we encourage all patients to be mindful of the warning signs that a complication may be developing. If you experience any of the following symptoms during your recovery, please contact us immediately: 

  • Signs of infection such as: high temperature, heavy discharge from your wound site, an increase in redness or heat around your wound site, or a dramatic increase in pain that is not relieved by oral pain medication.
  • Increased swelling around your wound.
  • Nausea or vomiting which does not settle.

Outside of clinic hours, please contact your GP or closest emergency department.