Abdominoplasty, also known as ‘tummy tuck’, is a body contouring procedure performed on both men and, more commonly, women. The procedure is designed to improve the appearance of the abdominal area, which may have been affected by pregnancy, significant weight loss or the ageing process. These factors can cause abdominal skin to become flaccid and in the case of pregnancy, can also cause the muscles within the abdominal wall to become weakened. These conditions cannot be corrected with diet and/or exercise alone, requiring surgical intervention to remove excess skin and fat.
There are a variety of abdominoplasty procedures available, and operations can be tailored to suit the individual patient’s wishes and needs. There are many variations both to the design of the incisions and the technique itself. When the amount of loose skin is minimal and excess fat deposits are located below the navel, a short horizontal incision above the pubic bone is all that is necessary. This procedure is called a partial or “mini” abdominoplasty.
For patients who have significant skin laxity, excess fat and separation of the muscles, a classic tummy tuck is the most common procedure. Performed under general anaesthetic, this operation can require patients to be in hospital for three to five days. During the operation, an incision is made from hip to hip and around the umbilicus (belly button). The excess skin and fat is excised from the umbilicus to just above the pubic hair and the muscles above and below the umbilicus are tightened. The skin is then stitched together resulting in a long scar across the lower abdomen, generally from hip to hip, and a new umbilicus is created.
Liposuction is often performed at the same time as an abdominoplasty. However, liposuction can be recommended instead of an abdominoplasty for younger patients who have good quality, elastic skin and whose area of concern is localised excess fat. During the procedure, small incisions are made, excess fat is removed and the wounds are then closed. Some degree of skin tightening or shrinkage can be expected, but the results of liposuction can sometimes be unpredictable. Liposuction alone will have less effect than an abdominoplasty.
Risks and Considerations