Ask a Surgeon: Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) Q&A with Mr Nadir Ali

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

In this blog post, consultant surgeon Mr Nadir Ali answers the most common questions regarding abdominoplasty.

Q1: What is abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is a surgical procedure designed to remove excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen and tighten muscles of abdomen to improve the overall shape.

Abdominoplasty should not be considered a treatment to stop you losing weight in the future nor help you to control or lose weight. However, as long as you maintain a healthy weight after the procedure and exercise your abdominal muscles, the results of a tummy tuck can be permanent.

Choosing to have a tummy tuck will be dependent on your general health, for example if you have a heart condition (e.g. diabetes or heart disease), if you are a smoker or very overweight, then you may not be suitable for the procedure. Your surgeon will discuss your condition further and make an informed decision as to whether you can have the operation.

Q2: What are the different types of tummy tuck?

There are several types of tummy tuck:

Standard: An incision will be made along your pubic area running hip to hip. Your belly button will need to be freed from surrounding skin so another cut will be made around it. Excess fat and skin is then removed as well as repairing and tightening your abdominal muscles. Your belly button will be moved to the correct position and remaining skin will be pulled down. In terms of scars, you will have scars above your pubic area (can often be covered with underwear/swimwear) and around your belly button

Mini: There is a controversy about what exactly is mini tummy tuck. My understanding is that it’s a type of abdominoplasty focused on improving lower abdomen. The area between belly button and pubic hairs specifically. The length of scar is similar to full abdominoplasty but operating time and recovery is shorter. Your belly button will stay in the same place. There are limited indications, for this operation best to have a detailed chat with a good plastic surgeon.

Extended: Also known as a lower body lift, this procedure is for those who have a lot of excess skin, perhaps if you have lost a significant amount of weight. A similar procedure to a standard tummy tuck with the added removal of excess skin/fat from your lower back. You will have scarring around your belly button, above your pubic area and around your lower back.

Q3: Who is the most likely candidate for an abdominoplasty?

An ideal candidate for abdominoplasty is a healthy person with loose abdominal skin or apron, lax abdominal muscles, and some fat that’s amenable to liposuction. Abdominoplasty is focused on reshaping the lower trunk area, specifically front and sides of the body. This needs to be tailor made for person and their body shape. It’s best to have a detailed consultation with a good plastic surgeon.

Q4: Who is not a candidate for an abdominoplasty?

Most healthy patients can tolerate this surgery well, like any other cosmetic operation it has restrictions. Abdominoplasty is not suitable for patients with medical conditions that may affect wound healing and/or prohibits prolong surgery, high body mass index, medications that impairs blood clotting, patients with unrealistic expectations or psychological problems. Its best to have a detailed consultation with a good plastic surgeon.

Patient with good skin and muscle tone, no skin excess with little fat excess may need liposuction alone.

Q5: Why do we require liposuction in addition to abdominoplasty?

Liposuction can be carried out during a tummy tuck or before/after as a separate procedure.Abdominoplasty addresses protruding abdomen, there are areas of fat deposits which you may wish to improve for example, love handles which require liposuction to improve the overall results.

Liposuction is sometimes used as a way of improving the results of a tummy tuck; this option will be discussed further by your surgeon.

Q6: Why can’t I just have liposuction?

Liposuction is ideal for removing excess fat. Unfortunately it’s not so effective in addressing excess skin and has no effect on muscle. Only an abdominoplasty can target all these problems.

You need to be aware that results of choosing to have liposuction alone can be unpredictable and may not have the same effect as abdominoplasty.

Q7: Can I have a baby after a tummy tuck?

Though it is not advisable, but yes it is still possible. It will ruin the results achieved with a very prolong and expensive surgical procedure though.

Q8: How much weight can I lose from tummy tuck surgery?

Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery is not about losing weight, it’s about improving the shape of the body. The actual weight removed at the time of surgery depends on excess of skin and fat present and is different for person to person.

Q9: How long is the operation and hospital stay?

On average the operation may take 3-4 hours, this is dependent on the technique used and on how much fat and skin is removed. Additional procedures like liposuction may add another hour. Most of my patients go home next day some like to stay for another day.

Q10: What type of anaesthesia is used?

This operation is done under general anaesthesia which causes you to fall into a deep sleep and therefore you will not be aware of what is happening during your procedure.

For your comfort additional regional anaesthetic is used to numb the operated area to make your recovery smooth and less painful.

Q11: Tummy tuck or umbilicoplasty to correct the loose skin above and below the belly button?

Every person is different, we can only advice after taking a detailed history and through examination. It’s best to have a detailed consultation with a good plastic surgeon.

Q12: How long should I wear the binder/garment for after a tummy tuck?

I advise my patients is to wear these garments for at least 6 weeks after surgery.

Q13: What are risks and complications for abdominoplasty?

Like any other surgical operation abdominoplasty has its own risks and complications. The best way is to have a detailed consultation with your plastic surgeon. Possible common problems are infection, bleeding under the skin (haematoma), wound healing problems, clot in the leg, loss of skin and slow healing. Some of these problems may require a return to theatre for additional surgery. You need to be aware that the scar of the abdominoplasty is visible and quite long.

Q14: How long will a seroma last after tummy tuck and liposuction?

Seroma is a common surgical complication. In an ideal world it shouldn't happen. Most seroma resolves on their own after few weeks. Like any other outcome in surgery, management depends on what is the cause of seroma, what size it is, how many days/weeks after surgery it happened. The treatment is tailor made and best to follow the advice of the operating surgeon.

Q15: How long is the recovery?

Every person is different; therefore it may take between two to four weeks to recover. Most patients go back to work after four weeks, for more strenuous activities we advise back to work after six weeks. Recovery time is also dependant on the technique used.

Light exercise may be started after 6 weeks but more strenuous abdominal exercises should be avoided for 12 weeks.

Over-the-counter painkillers can be taken to relieve pain, although you should consult your pharmacist/surgeon should you have any questions

Q16: Are results permanent?

The results of abdominoplasty can be maintained for a long time, with help from a healthy life style, not gaining weight and staying active. Like everything else in life unfortunately the results are not permanent.

Here you can find our guide prices for abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)

Read more cosmetic surgery blog posts to find answers from our consultants to the most common questions including: liposuction, blepharoplasty, rhinoplasty, liposuction, best place for breasts implants, breastfeeding and implants, cosmetic surgery after weight loss surgery.

About Mr Nadir Ali

Mr Nadir Ali is a Cosmetic Surgeon at Euxton Hall Hospital in Chorley

Mr. Ali BA, MBBS, FRCSI, FRCS(Glasg), FRCS(Plast) BTech(Skin Laser), PG Cert (Wound Healing) is a member of the British Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (BAPRAS), the British Society for Surgery of the Hand (BSSH), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

His special clinical interests are plastic and reconstructive surgery of breast, aesthetic surgery, hand surgery and skin cancer.

Mr Ali has published many papers in peer reviewed journals and has presented papers at national and international meetings.

Read more about Mr Ali's qualifications, background and clinical interests.

About Ramsay Health Care Cosmetic Services

Cosmetic Surgery from Ramsay is a leading provider of cosmetic surgery and non-surgical treatments in Bingley, Doncaster, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Chorley, Preston, Ormskirk.

Ramsay offers a wide range of cosmetic surgery procedures including breast augmentation, breast reduction, breast uplift, eyelid reshaping, tummy tuck, apronectomy (mini tummy tuck), gynaecomastia surgery, nose reshaping, prominent ear correction and liposuction.

Also available are a number of cosmetic enhancing procedures that do not involve any incisions, surgery or general anaesthetics and include acne treatment, dermal fillersskin resurfacing and laser hair removal.

Please contact us if you would like to make an appointment with one of our plastic surgeons.

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