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Abdominoplasty - Overview

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What Is Abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty—commonly known as a tummy tuck—is a significant surgical procedure that aims to eliminate excess skin and fat from the abdominal region. In addition to fat removal, it strengthens muscles within the abdomen, creating a firmer and tighter tummy...  It might also help remove stretch marks and excess skin below your belly button. However, it won't fix stretch marks outside this part of your abdomen.

People who have experienced pregnancies often find this surgery beneficial, improve the contour of the waist, tighten lax six pack muscles and lower abdomen. Similarly, individuals who have experienced substantial weight loss also choose this procedure to remove excess skin and achieve a toned abdominal area.

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Abdominoplasty offers a pathway to enhanced body confidence and improved physical comfort. Here's what you need to know about the procedure, its benefits, its risks, and how to take the first step. 

If you're ready to start your journey, contact our London clinic. Our plastic surgeons are available to answer your question and provide personalised advice. 

Types of Tummy Tucks

There are different types available, each tailored to address specific issues. Choosing the right type depends on your unique needs and the changes you wish to see.

Each type of tummy tuck addresses different needs, so discuss your goals and medical history with your surgeon to determine the best option for you.

Below is a detailed breakdown of the various tummy tuck procedures to help guide your decision:

Full Abdominoplasty


This is the commonest type performed and is often referred to as the standard tummy tuck. This comprehensive procedure tackles excess fat, fixes separated muscles, and gets rid of extra skin. It's a comprehensive solution for significant change.

Extended Abdominoplasty


If you're dealing with extra fat and skin not just in your abdomen but also around your flanks, upper hips, and lower back, this might be your best choice. It does everything a full tummy tuck does but extends round to the flanks to address the excess skin in this region.

Mini Abdominoplasty


For those with lax skin located between the pubic region and the belly button, a mini tummy tuck could be sufficient. This procedure is less extensive but still tightens muscles and removes excess skin, improving the lower abdomen's appearance.

Fleur de Lis Abdominoplasty


This procedure specifically targets excess skin both above and below your belly button, pulling the skin downwards and inwards for a smoother, tighter abdomen.

Brazilian Tummy Tuck


This option may be great for those with more skin than fat to address. It combines liposuction with a tummy tuck, sculpting the abdomen, flanks, and waist. This procedure promotes quicker healing and carries fewer risks than a full abdominoplasty, making it an attractive option for many.

Why People Get Tummy Tucks

A tummy tuck is a practical option when hard work and effort haven't made a difference in how the middle part of your body looks. This surgery offers various techniques to pull up sagging skin and regain a smoother belly shape. It works by cutting away extra skin and fat and making your belly muscles stronger.

After a tummy tuck, your abdomen will appear more toned. If you keep your weight steady, the changes from a tummy tuck should last for a long time.

There are several reasons why you might have extra fat, less firm skin, or weakened muscles in your belly area. These could be due to:

  • Significant changes in your weight

  • Pregnancy

  • Previous surgeries surgery, like a C-section

  • Ageing

  • The natural shape of your body

A tummy tuck helps get rid of hanging skin and extra fat and tightens up weak muscles.

If you've had a C-section in the past, your surgeon may be able to use the same scar for the tummy tuck. Also, a tummy tuck can be done with other surgeries to shape your body, like breast surgery. If you've had fat taken out with liposuction, you may have a tummy tuck to remove any extra skin left behind.

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It is important to note that a tummy tuck is not the right choice for everyone. Your doctor might advise against it if you:

  • Plan to lose a lot of weight

  • Plan on becoming pregnant in the future

  • Have serious health issues like heart disease or diabetes

  • Significantly overweight (BMI over 30)

  • Smoke

  • Had surgery before that left a lot of scars on the tummy

  • Will not achieve your goals


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Preparing for Your Tummy Tuck

Getting ready for a tummy tuck means preparing yourself for a smooth procedure and recovery.

Before you have your surgery, you will have a detailed talk with a plastic surgeon to ensure everything is clear and ready. Always make sure that you have had all your queries answered and you are comfortable with the procedure and what to expect during and after surgery.  To help you with this here is what to expect and how to prepare:


  • Talk About Your Health:

The surgeon will want to know your medical history. This includes any health conditions you have, all medicines you take including supplements/over the counter medications, and any past surgeries. It is very important that you are honest and thorough. If you have allergies to any medication, make sure to mention them.

  • Undergo Physical Exam:

The surgeon will examine your abdomen to decide the best way to proceed with the surgery. They will be checking for where the excess skin and fat lies, any scars and their locations, your muscle tone and if you have any hernias.  They might also take photos to have a “before” record in your medical notes.

  • Set Clear Expectations:

This is the time to discuss why you want the tummy tuck and what you hope to achieve. Understand both the good points and the potential risks, including the chance of scars. If you’ve had abdominal surgery in the past, it’s essential to talk about it since it might affect your results.

To prepare for the surgery itself, you should:

  • Quit Smoking:

Smoking can cause problems with blood flow and slow down the healing process. Plus, it can raise the risk of complications. So if you smoke, you need to stop for several weeks, both before the surgery and while you recover - your doctor will advise you on how long for.

  • Steer Clear of Certain Medicines:

You might need to stop taking medication like aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements, as they can increase the risk of bleeding during surgery.  You will be advised what to stop and when they can be restarted.

  • Keep Your Weight Stable:

Try to maintain a consistent weight for at least a year before your surgery. If you are significantly overweight, your surgeon might suggest losing weight first. Gaining or losing a lot of weight after the procedure can affect your results.

  • Plan for Recovery:

Make sure you have someone to drive you home from the hospital and stay with you for the first night after the surgery. You’ll need this support as you start your recovery journey at home.


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What Happens During a Tummy Tuck Surgery

A tummy tuck surgery varies depending on the specific procedure chosen. Here's an overview of what typically happens in different types of tummy tucks:

  • Full Abdominoplasty:

You will have a horizontal cut near your bikini line or lower belly and around your belly button. The size of the cut depends on how much skin needs to be removed. Your surgeon will then reshape your skin and muscles. Sometimes, drainage tubes are placed under the skin to remove excess fluid, these are attached to a drainage bag that you will need to carry with you.   Your surgeon will let you know when these need to be removed if they are placed.

  • Partial or Mini-Abdominoplasty:

This smaller-scale surgery involves a shorter cut in the bikini line. Unlike the full tummy tuck, there is no scar around your belly button. The skin between the incision and belly button gets lifted and repositioned. This procedure is quicker, and drain tubes may or may not be used.

  • Circumferential Abdominoplasty:

Involving both the abdomen and the back, this surgery is for those with excess fat around these areas and the scar extends around to the back as well as around the belly button. It may include liposuction or the removal of skin and fat from the back and hips, enhancing your body's shape from all angles.  A drain may or may not be used in this procedure, your surgeon will advise.

Other types of abdominoplasty follow a combination of the above procedures, sometimes in conjunction with other surgical techniques. Your surgeon will go through the procedure that has been tailored for you including where to expect the scars, what dressings will be used over your wounds, if you will need drains, and when to return for your follow up appointments.

Regardless of type, abdominoplasty usually takes between 2 and 5 hours, and most patients stay in the hospital for 1-2 days. Post-surgery, it's normal to experience some pain as the anaesthesia wears off, but adequate pain relief will be provided.

Before leaving the hospital or surgical clinic, you'll be fitted with a special corset (sometimes called a binder) or control pants to support your abdomen.

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Recovery After a Tummy Tuck

Post-tummy tuck, setting aside about 6 weeks for recovery is essential. During this time, you will not be able to drive, and you will need to coordinate with your surgeon to determine when it's safe to get back behind the wheel.

Here's what you need to know about your recovery:

  • Time Off:

Plan for a 4- to 6-week break from work and physical activities.

  • Seeing Results:

It takes about 6 weeks to fully recover, but it will be several months before you see your final result.

  • Special Garments:

A specific type of corset or tummy-control pants is usually required for 6 weeks post-surgery. This helps your skin heal correctly and lessens any swelling.

  • Body Position:

Keep your knees bent while in bed to take the pressure off your stitches and make your recovery smoother.

  • Follow-Up Appointments:

Expect a few follow-up visits to ensure everything is healing as it should.

  • Getting Back to Normal:

After 6 weeks, you should be able to remove the corset and gradually return to your usual activities.

It's important to talk to your plastic surgeon about what to expect in terms of after-effects:

  • Scars:

The scars could be raised and more red/darker than your usual skin colour but should fade and flatten over 12 to 18 months.  You will be given advice on how to care for your scars post operatively.  If you are concerned about your scar contact your surgical team.

Post-Surgery Feelings and Sensations:

  • You might find it tough to stand up straight initially—your tummy may feel like it's being pulled. This sensation improves with time.

  • Pain, swelling and bruising are quite common, this will improve with time.

  • Numbness in your tummy area could last from a few months and can be permanent.

A temporary fluid-filled swelling might appear above the scar (seroma), sometimes this needs to be drained, please contact your surgical team.

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Risks of Abdominoplasty

When considering abdominoplasty, be aware of the potential risks involved. Being informed helps you make a sound decision and prepare for the recovery process and beyond.

Risks Associated with a Tummy Tuck

  • Bleeding:

Immediately post surgery there is a small risk of bleeding or collections of blood (haematoma), this may require a return to theatre.

  • Wound Healing Issues:

Sometimes, the incision line may not heal as expected, or the edges might start to separate. Antibiotics are given at the time of surgery but your surgical team will decide if you need further courses of treatment.

  • Scarring:

While the tummy tuck will leave a permanent scar, surgeons usually place it along the bikini line to keep it hidden. The appearance of the scar can vary significantly among individuals.  If your scars become very lumpy and itchy there may be treatments available, please discuss with your surgical team.

  • Tissue Damage:

There’s a risk of damage to the deep fatty tissue within the abdominal area (fat necrosis), which you may feels as firm areas or lumps. This risk is heightened for smokers. Depending on how extensive the damage is, the tissue might recover independently, or a follow-up procedure might be needed.

  • Changes in Skin Sensation:

The procedure can alter the nerves in the abdominal region and, in rare cases, in the upper thighs. This can lead to a temporary reduction in sensation or numbness, which should improve over time.

  • Blood clots - there is a small risk of developing clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) or lung (pulmonary embolism or PE), your surgical team may give you medication to reduce this risk after your surgery.

  • Risk of anaesthesia - you will be assessed before surgery to ensure that you are safe to have an anaesthetic and you will have an opportunity to discuss any concerns with the anaesthetist before your procedure.


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Start Your Journey Towards a Tummy Tuck

Considering a tummy tuck in London? Take the first step towards a more confident you by scheduling a consultation with our experienced team.

We understand that every patient’s journey is unique, and we are here to address your specific needs and goals. Contact our London-based plastic surgeons to discuss how a tummy tuck can help you achieve the results you desire.

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