You’ve packed a lot into your morning since 5.30am. A 5km run, a 20-minute weights work out and you’ve managed to pack the school lunches! As you’re showering, you can hear your children fighting and yelling at each other. You brush it off as another school morning until, they both burst into the bathroom. Just getting out of the shower and putting on your bathrobe, they see your stomach.
When you children saw your saggy, droopy belly, they stood there with their eyes wide and mouths open – and then the questions started:
- “Mum, what’s that funny baggy skin around your stomach doing?”
- “Mum, can I touch that weird pouchy skin before school?
- “Why haven’t we seen this funny stomach shape before?”
Brushing the questions aside, you close the door and take a deep breath.
You’ve worked hard to lose weight and stay fit and healthy since your last pregnancy. But no matter how hard you exercise or watch your diet, you can’t get rid of the baggy, saggy stomach skin. You feel a bit angry that your children have pointed fingers – because it’s because of the pregnancies that the skin developed in the first place!
But another side of you is understanding of their shock. After all, when you exercise you wear tight active wear that ‘sucks the baggy stomach’ in and during the day you usually wear an undergarment to smooth out your tummy bump.
Making it through school drop off, you call your best friend. After you tell her about what your children said about your stomach being ‘droopy and saggy’ she says, “Maybe we should do what my other friend is getting done – a tummy tuck!”
And that’s when you find out all you can about tummy tuck surgery and how it can make your stomach flatter. You learn that tummy tuck is also called abdominoplasty and that you may be a prime candidate for surgery!
What is a tummy tuck?
An abdominoplasty, otherwise known as a ‘tummy tuck’, is a surgical procedure to remove loose skin and excess fat from the middle and lower abdomen.
A tummy tuck can tighten separated abdominal muscles and flatten the stomach. Abdominoplasty surgery is most commonly performed after pregnancy or weight loss in women and after weight loss in men.
By reducing a protruding or drooping abdomen and smoothing loose skin, tummy tuck surgery can make a major difference to the body shape. Nearly all patients undergoing abdominoplasty feel very positive about its results.
Who is the best candidate for tummy tuck surgery?
Abdominoplasty is best suited for men and women in relatively good shape, but with loose abdominal skin and fat that won’t respond to dieting or exercise. A tummy tuck repairs muscles and removes excess skin, revealing a stomach that is smoother and firmer. It’s important to note that abdominoplasty isn’t a replacement for a healthy diet and regular exercise, nor is it a weight loss solution.
A tummy tuck procedure may be appropriate for you if:
- You have realistic expectations, are physically healthy and at a stable weight
- You have excess stomach fat that hasn’t responded to diet or exercise
- You have droopy or loose skin around your stomach
Your abdominoplasty surgeon will carry out a detailed assessment before deciding if surgery is suitable for you. During the assessment, they will examine your abdomen, ask questions about your medical history and may take photos for your medical records.
I’m not sure if I want more children. Should I wait until I’ve had them before I have a tummy tuck procedure?
Many abdominoplasty surgeons recommend women wait to have a tummy tuck until after they have completed their family to achieve the best results. Pregnancy can reverse some of the corrections from a tummy tuck, with follow-up tummy tuck surgery sometimes needed to refine the look.
Essential facts you must know about abdominoplasty surgery
- Many surgeons recommend that a tummy tuck should only be considered after a suitable diet and exercise program have achieved a healthy body size for the individual. Overweight patients may be advised to lose weight before undergoing abdominoplasty surgery.
- An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is a type of cosmetic surgery performed to remove fat and excess loose skin from the abdomen.
- Complications of tummy tuck surgery include infection, haematoma and seroma (blood or fluid collections under the wound), wound breakdown requiring regular dressings, and a poor scar requiring minor revisional surgery. There is always some numbness of the skin just above the scar after this surgery.
- Abdominoplasty is not a treatment for obesity. Excess hanging skin can hamper exercise, so occasionally it is preferable to remove this before weight loss is attempted.
- Having a tummy tuck procedure won’t stop you from gaining weight in the future. To maintain your abdominoplasty results, you should avoid big fluctuations in your weight.
Are there different types of tummy tuck procedures to consider?
Your Surgeon has five types of abdominoplasty procedures to consider. The type of tummy tuck operation you have will depend on the amount of excess skin you have on your abdomen.
The abdominoplasty procedures your surgeon will consider include:
1 Standard abdominoplasty
If you have a lot of excess abdominal skin, your surgeon will use this procedure. They will make a curved cut from one hip to the other, going down to just above the pubic area. Any excess skin and fat between the pubic area and your umbilicus (belly button) will be removed. Your surgeon will then cut under the skin above your umbilicus, pulling it downwards and tightening it. Liposuction is sometimes used to remove excess fat.
2 Fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty
Your surgeon will use this surgical technique if you have a lot of excess abdomen skin hanging around and downwards. Many patients have this type of abdominoplasty surgery if they’ve lost a significant amount of weight or have had bariatric surgery.
This surgery is similar to a standard abdominoplasty. In addition, your surgeon will also make a vertical cut along your midline up to just below your breastbone to remove more excess skin and fat and tighten your waist.
If you’ve only got a little bit of excess skin, your surgeon may recommend this surgical technique. A small cut is made just above your pubic area to remove the excess skin and may also tighten the muscles of your abdominal wall. They will use liposuction only if they need to remove any excess fat and will not need to cut under the skin above your umbilicus.
4 Lower body lift or belt lipectomy
This type of tummy tuck surgery is suitable after significant weight loss, usually as a result of bariatric surgery. Your surgeon will remove excess skin and fat from your sides, abdomen and lower back. Liposuction may also be used to remove excess fat from your thighs.
5 Endoscopic abdominoplasty
If you only need to have the muscles of your abdominal wall tightened, this surgical technique may be suitable. Your surgeon will make small cuts and use a flexible telescope (endoscope) with surgical instruments to tighten the muscles of your abdominal wall. Liposuction may also be used to remove excess fat.
What is recovery like after tummy tuck surgery?
Depending on the type of abdominoplasty operation you’ve had, the hospital stay required will vary from one to four days. If muscle repair is part of the operative plan, recovery is slower than if no muscle repair is needed.
To minimise any discomfort when you wake up, before the end of your tummy tuck operation, local anaesthetic is inserted into the wound area. The nursing staff will closely monitor you postoperatively, and given all the pain medication you need. An IV drip will give you fluid, and initially you will have an oxygen mask. When you can drink well, the intravenous drip will be removed.
After the surgery, drain tubes may be required for several days to remove excess fluids from the wound. Your abdomen will be swollen for a few weeks after surgery and you will experience some discomfort. You may require a urinary catheter for a day or so.
Get more information about how to prepare for tummy tuck surgery here.
Are there risks or complications with tummy tuck surgery?
It’s important to note that any surgical operation brings complications of anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist will be able to discuss with you the possible risks and complications of having an anaesthetic.
General complications of every surgery include:
- Pain. Your healthcare team will give you medication to control the pain.
- Blood clot in your leg (deep vein thrombosis – DVT). This can cause pain, swelling or redness in your leg, or the veins near the surface of your leg to appear larger than normal. Your healthcare team will assess your risk.
- Blood clot in your lung (pulmonary embolus). If a blood clot moves through your bloodstream to your lungs. If you become short of breath, feel pain in your chest or upper back, or if you cough up blood, let the healthcare team know straightaway.
The specific complications of abdominoplasty surgery include:
- Developing a swelling under the skin in your lower abdomen caused by blood or fluid collecting. You may need to have a small procedure to remove the blood or fluid.
- Numbness or continued pain on your abdomen caused by injury to the small nerves that supply your skin. Any pain or numbness usually gets better within a few weeks but can sometimes continue for many months.
- Cosmetic problems. It is difficult to predict exactly how your abdomen will appear after the operation. Sometimes you will still have a small area of excess skin.
You can read about more complications of tummy surgery here.
What results can I expect from my tummy tuck surgery?
While your tummy tuck will leave you with a flatter, tighter stomach and may remove some stretch marks, you shouldn’t expect much weight loss as a direct result. Unless you have a significant weight change or become pregnant, your stomach should remain flatter and firmer for many years.
How do I choose the best Abdominoplasty Surgeon?
Tummy tuck surgery is an elective surgery procedure that will improve the appearance of your abdomen. It’s important to consider your options carefully and have realistic expectations about your abdominoplasty results.
With any elective cosmetic surgical procedure, the most important factor in choosing a surgeon is experience. We suggest you look for a board-certified plastic surgeon who performs the tummy tuck procedure frequently and has proven safe results.
Once you have a short list of surgeons, it’s a good idea to have multiple consultations before you select one. You can find the best Abdominoplasty Surgeons in Australia here.
Today tummy tuck surgery results are more effective, predictable and better looking than ever before. With the right combination of surgical skill and favourable tissue, abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery) can give you the flatter stomach you’ve always wanted.