Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

Women often develop excess abdominal skin, fat, and stretched abdominal muscles as a result of pregnancy or weight loss. Abdominoplasty, surgical removal of loose skin and excess fatty tissue, corrects these problems. If the patient’s only complaint is excess fat in the abdomen, the problem can sometimes be corrected by liposuction alone.

Abdominoplasty is usually performed under general anesthesia and takes two to three hours. The patient usually must spend one night in the clinic. When discharging the patients, doctors prescribe oral pain medication to control typically mild to moderate pain. The patient also is given an abdominal binder to provide support while healing.

Abdominoplasty is performed through an incision across the lower abdomen. An incision is made around the belly button, leaving it attached to the abdominal wall. The skin and fat are then elevated from the abdominal wall and muscles to the level of the rib cage. Surgeons may remove some fat from the flanks with supplemental liposuction and, if needed, the abdominal muscles are tightened by suturing them together in the midline and shortening them. Surgeons remove excess skin and fat at the upper line of the incision. The belly button is then brought out through a small incision and sutured to the new skin in its normal position.

Drains are left beneath the skin for 3-14 days  following surgery.

Following surgery, patients should restrict their activities for two to three weeks, and exertion is prohibited for four weeks. The stitches generally are removed in one to two weeks following surgery.

It may be months before all the swelling has completely subsided. Patients often experience reduced sensation in the abdominal area and the upper thighs. This generally subsides in the months following the procedure. The scars around the belly button and the lower part of the abdomen will gradually fade and become less visible.

Potential complications of abdominoplasty include bleeding, infection and healing problems, which can lead to heavy scars. Some lack of symmetry also may occur. Because the skin is undermined, there is a slight risk of inadequate circulation and loss of some skin. This risk is greater in smokers and in patients with specific kinds of old scars. Patients should quit smoking for 14 days prior to and following surgery, and stop taking aspirin 14 days before surgery.

For more information, please visit our FAQ section and see examples of performed surgeries in our gallery.

A typical patient will have extra skin and/or fat in the abdominal area. The length of the scar varies, depending on how much extra skin is present. It is usually placed within the bathing suit (bikini line) area.

If the muscles underneath have stretched because of pregnancy, they are brought together.

The extra skin is pulled down like an apron and removed. The belly button, if a full tummy tuck is performed, is brought through the skin at the normal location (usually at the hip level).

The scars are hidden in the bathing suit line but they do exist. Because of tension scars can stretch with time. These can be improved through a “scar revision” about one year following the surgery.