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"I want to add, that the few of our friends and relatives who were "in the loop" about what we had done at the clinic, were impressed with how we looked, and what we told them about the treatment we received."

Thank you. USA

Information by Dr Rick van der Poel
Edited for the website by Lorraine Melvill

Abdominoplasty Tummy Tuck

Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to improve the appearance of the abdomen. Pregnancies can cause the abdominal skin and muscles to become loose and flabby. Excessive weight gain followed by weight reduction often leaves a layer of loose excess skin and stretched-out, thin musculature in both men and women. Abdominoplasty is designed to correct these conditions. This can be done by removing excess skin and fat and tightening the muscles. It can also be done to eliminate or improve existing scars and to correct hernias.

Abdominoplasty, often known as a 'tummy tuck', is a not weight-loss technique. Although the procedure removes some fat, it is not a substitute for a healthy diet or sensible exercise. Patients should be at normal or near-normal weight before surgery.

Two kinds of abdominoplasty can be performed - a complete abdominoplasty and a mini-abdominoplasty. The complete abdominoplasty is performed for patients who need maximum correction. In this operation a horizontal incision is made low on the abdomen at the level of the pubic hair. The abdominal musculature is tightened with stitches and any hernias or weaknesses are repaired. The umbilicus (belly button) is usually circumscribed during the operation. It remains in the same position on the abdominal wall, but is brought out through a new skin opening.

A mini or modified abdominoplasty is performed for patients who require less correction. In this case there is no scar around the umbilicus and the horizontal scar is shorter. In a full abdominoplasty the scar extends from hip to hip.

It is possible to perform an abdominoplasty at the same time as another intra-abdominal procedure such as a tubal ligation, although I prefer to perform an abdominoplasty as a separate procedure. It can also be performed at the same time as other cosmetic procedures such as breast or facial surgery. Liposuction of the hips and other areas is commonly performed with an abdominoplasty.

At the time of your consultation, It will assess whether you are a candidate for a complete or mini-abdominoplasty. I will take clinical photographs, before and after surgery, as these are an important aid in planning and performing the surgery. They become a permanent part of your patient record. These photographs are of the abdominal region only and do not include your face.

Here are some questions frequently asked about abdominoplasty:

Will I have to have a general anaesthetic and how long will the operation last?

If you have a complete abdominoplasty you will be given an epidural or general anaesthetic. A mini-abdominoplasty can be performed under a local anaesthetic. The procedure takes between one to three hours, depending on the area involved.

Will I have to stay in hospital?

If you have a complete abdominoplasty you will need to stay in hospital for 2 days after surgery. For a mini-abdominoplasty you will be discharged after 1 day.

What care is necessary after the operation?

Patients who have a complete abdominoplasty remain in bed until the next morning. A urinary catheter will be placed during your operation while you are asleep and remain for one day after surgery. Patients who have a limited abdominoplasty do not need a urinary catheter. You will experience some pain but this gradually subsides as you begin to walk. A narrow bandage is removed two days after surgery, and you may shower. All stitches are internal and self-dissolving. You will be given medication for pain.

When can I return to work and what sort of physical activity will I be able to do?

Most people return to their usual activities and to work two weeks after the operation. Strenuous sport, however, is prohibited for two months.

Will I have scars?

Following both a complete and a mini-abdominoplasty, you will have a horizontal scar low on the abdomen. After the complete abdominoplasty you will have a circular scar within the umbilicus. A different type or location of scar may sometimes be necessary because of individual anatomic variations but this would be decided upon beforehand. Although occasional findings during the operation dictate that the scar be somewhat longer or in a different position than planned before surgery, I will make every effort to keep the scar as short and inconspicuous as possible.

Will I be able to have more children?

Yes, you will be able to have more children but you should not have an abdominoplasty until your family is complete as pregnancy will stretch the entire abdomen considerably.

What will I feel like after the operation?

As with any surgical procedure, small nerves to the skin are interrupted during an abdominoplasty. Parts of your abdomen will feel numb or have less than full feeling. Sensibility returns over several months but some diminished feeling may last indefinitely.

Swelling of the abdomen is normal following surgery. During the first week your clothes may fit more tightly and you may weigh more than before. This swelling will subside from the second week after surgery but some lower abdominal fullness persists. You may expect to see about 50% of your total contour improvement at two weeks and about 75% at one month. It usually takes an additional two months for the last of the swelling to recede. Occasional patients may see continued improvement up to six months after surgery but changes beyond three months are subtle. It is important to understand that it will take between six months to a year for the scars to mature fully. Tissue oil massage helps immensely.

Are there likely to be any complications?

As with all surgery, it is important to be aware of possible side effects and undesirable or serious complications no matter how remote their possibility. All surgery carries potential risks which could be fatal. It is important to be aware of these possible complications so that your decisions are made with an understanding of them. I would discuss these risks with you pre-operatively and they include infection; blood collection under the skin (haematoma); serious fluid collection under the abdominal skin (this fluid can be aspirated with a syringe if it collects post-operatively); wound healing problems; deep vein thrombosis - this is a blood clot in the leg which rarely travels to the lungs.

Summary

Abdominoplasty is a surgical means of correcting flabbiness and improving muscle tone in the lower abdomen. Although not a procedure performed for weight loss it flattens the tummy area and improves contour.

 

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