Tummy Tuck Abdominoplasty
A tummy tuck is designed for people who have excess skin, which often occurs as the result of significant weight loss. A tummy tuck differs from liposuction, as this removes excess skin, rather than excess fat. Therefore, a tummy tuck is not considered a suitable alternative for losing weight. Instead, it is a good option once the weight has already been lost and skin needs to be removed.
At London Lipo Institute, we offer drain-free tummy tucks. This means you will have a thinner, lower, and more concealed scar as compared to traditional liposuction.
What is a drain-free tummy tuck?
The drain-free tummy tuck ensures patients can achieve optimal results. The difference between this and a traditional tummy tuck procedure is the surgeons do not use surgical drains at the incision site after the surgery. In a traditional tummy tuck, you are required to wear a drain for at least one week following the procedure. A drain-free tummy tuck eliminates this step, meaning you have a faster, more comfortable recovery period.
Can I have a tummy tuck?
A good candidate for a tummy tuck will be someone who has:
- Loose or excess skin
- Excess amount of abdominal fat
- Abdominal muscle stretching or muscle laxity
You will also need to be:
- Physically healthy
- At a stable weight
- A non-smoker
You will need to have realistic expectations of what the tummy tuck can achieve.
If you do not think you have enough excess skin or fat, or think a tummy tuck is not appropriate, you may wish to consider a mini tummy tuck. During your initial consultation with a surgeon, they will be able to help you decide which procedure is best for you.
It is important to note that a tummy tuck is not an option for someone who is wanting to lose weight. Instead, a tummy tuck is for people who have already lost an excessive amount of weight.
How is a tummy tuck performed?
A tummy tuck is performed under a general anaesthetic, so you will be asleep throughout the duration of the procedure.
An incision will be made between the pubic hairline and belly button, which will go horizontally across the abdomen. The size of this incision will vary depending on how much excess skin is going to be removed.
Next, the abdominal skin is lifted and, if necessary, muscles and skin are tightened. The belly button may also be repositioned. Doing this will help to improve the aesthetic appearance of the abdomen.
Once the excess skin has been removed, the skin remaining on the upper abdomen is pulled down and the incision is closed with sutures and bandages. The skin will now appear to be tighter, and the abdomen will have a flatter appearance.
After the surgery is complete, you will be given bandages and a compression garment to wear over the incision site. This will help to ensure you get the best possible results, and will also help speed up the recovery.
You may also require liposuction during your procedure, depending on how much excess fat you have. This will be discussed during your initial consultation with your surgeon.
It is important to note that a tummy tuck differs from a panniculectomy. This is where the loose skin is 'amputated', and is suitable for those who have lost 100lb or more and now find they have medical issues as a result of the excess skin. This procedure removes the hanging skin from the abdomen. This procedure does not tighten the stomach muscles as the tummy tuck procedure does. During your consultaiton, your surgeon will be able to clarify whether you need a panniculectomy, tummy tuck, liposuction, or a combination of the procedures.
What is the recovery period like?
After having the tummy tuck procedure, it is normal to experience bruising and swelling. In the first few days following the procedure, you may experience some discomfort, which can be managed with pain medication. After the first few days, you will be able to notice a difference in how you are feeling and your pain levels.
You will be required to visit our surgeons after having your procedure. This will allow the surgeon to see how you are progressing and address any problems. This will also ensure you achieve the best possible results. During the first 48 hours, you will need to ensure you have a responsible adult accompanying you at all times.
For the first 14 days, you will need to walk in a stooped position. This will help to avoid straining the sutures. As time progresses, you will find you will be able to stand more upright. During this period it is important that you flex your feet at the ankles. This will help to activate the calf muscles and the blood will be properly pumped out of the legs. This will reduce your risk of getting a blood clot. This can be done when you are either sitting or lying down. After one week, you will be able to resume light physical activities. You will be able to be transported in a car, but you will not be able to drive. You will have to wait at least two weeks until you can drive, as you will be taking pain medication during this period.
You will be able to return to work after 10 days, however, you will still need to avoid any strenuous activity and any lifting, stooping or prolonged standing. All strenuous physical activity should be avoided for the first three months.
Do not stress if you experience any numbness or occasional pain or discomfort in your abdomen following the surgery - this is a normal side effect. You may also experience swelling, which can be managed by wearing compression garments. You will have access to 12 months aftercare, which will allow you to see your surgeon if you ever have questions or experience problems during the recovery period.
You will derive the most benefit from a tummy tuck if you have loose abdominal skin and/or there is an element of sagging skin which forms an overhang over your pelvic bone. In addition, if you have lots of stretch marks, recently lost a large amount of weight or you have an abdominal bulge, a tummy tuck procedure may be more appropriate for you. Localised areas of fat with good overlying skin can often be served well with liposculpture alone. The most appropriate option for you will be discussed at your free no-obligation consultation.
A full tummy tuck will entail liposculpture of three areas: the upper abdomen, lower abdomen and the flanks. Excess skin will then be removed from the lower abdomen and tightening of the underlying muscles will be performed. This results in a very smooth and flat abdomen. A mini tummy tuck can also be performed. The skin incision is shorter, and no muscle tightening is performed. This procedure is only suitable for tightening of the lower abdomen.
After pregnancy and childbirth, the abdominal muscles stretch out from the growth of the baby. This also happens if you were previously overweight or obese and have lost a lot of weight. In both these scenarios, the muscles will still remain separated in the middle leading to bulging out that liposuction alone cannot address fully. In these cases, the underlying muscle needs to be tightened. The coverings over the muscles, called the fascia, is sewn together in the midline. This flattens and strengthens your abdominal muscles and result in a very smooth and flat tummy. The muscles are not injured in any way. This is the only technique available to address the bulging caused by the separated muscles.
Firstly, anaesthetic fluids are injected into the tissues to fully numb the areas, and decrease bleeding. The risk of infection is also much reduced using this technique. Liposuction is then performed to reduce the fat in the abdomen and sides. The excess skin in the lower part of the abdomen is measured by stretching down this part. This excess skin is removed. The underlying muscles are then tightened to flatten the stomach area. Finally, the skin is sewn together in as low a position as possible, within the bikini line. This gives a very flat and smooth appearance. The resulting incision is nicely hidden in the bikini line.
You will be able to leave the clinic 30-60mins after your procedure. Most patients are back to low-intensity activities within 5-7 days after a tummy tuck, regardless of whether it is a full or mini tummy tuck. After 7 days, your activity levels will begin to increase more rapidly. Gym work can commence 4-6 weeks after the procedure. You will not be ‘stooping’ like with some of the older techniques for performing tummy tucks. Most of our patients can go back to sedentary type work within 5-7 days after a tummy tuck, regardless of whether it is a mini or a full tummy tuck. No longer is your recovery 6-8 weeks like some of the old tummy tuck procedures. With our new method, recovery is rapid. After a week you start doing more activities and you should be back at all your normal activities, including lifting weights, around 4-6 weeks after the procedure. Most of our patients are not severely “bent over” after the procedure like one has seen with some of the older techniques.
Mini tummy tucks can be performed using tumescent anaesthesia with mild oral sedation. However, a full tummy tuck usually requires the patient to be asleep for the procedure. IV sedation with tumescent anaesthesia is used for full tummy tucks, you will be asleep during the procedure. Compared with full general anaesthesia, recovery is much quicker and smoother with this technique. The risk of postoperative nausea and vomiting is much reduced with tumescent anaesthesia and IV sedation when compared with full general anaesthesia.
The risks and potential complications from the tummy tuck procedure are much reduced using the techniques we employ. Tumescent anaesthesia markedly reduces the risk of infections occurring due to anti-bacterial nature of the anaesthetic solution. The risk of infection is also reduced with taking antibiotics before, during and after the procedure for maximum protection against infection developing. The healing process can be impaired with smoking. We, therefore, advise all prospective patients to quit smoking at least 4 weeks prior to the procedure and for 4 weeks after the procedure. Of course, we would recommend total cessation of smoking for the best results.
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