Abdominoplasty, more popularly known as tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure that serves to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen. It is quite different from liposuction which only addresses excess fat. A tummy tuck however, involves removal of excess skin and fat, and tightening of abdominal muscles.
Tummy tuck is commonly requested by women who dislike the appearance of their abdomen as a consequence of pregnancy. Following pregnancy, the abdominal skin stretches and overhangs and the abdominal muscles separate. Tummy tuck may also be requested by those who have experienced significant weight loss, either through dieting or weight-loss surgery. Such patients may be left with sagging, excess abdominal skin.
Tummy Tuck is not a substitute for weight loss and is ideally suited for those patients with a stable weight or are at or near their ideal weight. The procedure is also not undertaken in women still planning to get pregnant as future pregnancy is likely to separate the abdominal muscle repair. Since tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure it is not recommended for those with significant medical issues or those who are active smokers.
There are different types of tummy tuck and Mr Karri will advise the most suitable one for you and the result you can expect.
Full Abdominoplasty – Full Tummy Tuck
A full tummy tuck involves removal of all the skin and fat between the belly button and bikini line as an ellipse. The abdominal muscles are subsequently tightened and the skin pulled down to create a flatter abdomen. The belly button is detached and re-sited in the abdominal skin that has been pulled down. The final scar runs from hip to hip.
Mini abdominoplasty – Mini tummy tuck
This type of tummy tuck is performed when skin laxity and excess fat is predominantly confined to below the belly button. Generally speaking, such patients only have mild to moderate skin and fat excess. The final scar is shorter than that of a full tummy tuck and the belly button is not touched. The abdominal muscles can also be tightened but not as extensively as with a full tummy tuck.
For patients who have both vertical and horizontal skin excess, a full tummy tuck will not adequately address the horizontal excess.
To remove the horizontal excess a central segment of skin and fat is also removed leaving an additional vertical scar. The final scar pattern looks like an upside-down T, resembling a fleur-de-lis symbol. Although the vertical scar will be visible, it is an acceptable tradeoff for an improved abdominal contour.
A fleur-de-lis tummy tuck can be likened to wearing a shirt, in which doing up the buttons brings in the sides of the shirt and tucking in the shirt ensures there is no excess material hanging over the belt line.
Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck is more commonly performed for patients who have experienced massive weight loss, either naturally or through weight-loss surgery.
Brazilian abdominoplasty – Brazilian tummy tuck
A Brazilian tummy tuck is a modification of the full tummy tuck and involves two additional steps; firstly, removal of excess fat by liposuction and secondly tightening of a specific deeper layer under the abdominal skin in order to enhance the waist line. The deeper layer that is tightened is different to the muscles which are also tightened.
Prior to your surgery, Mr Karri and his team will give you detailed aftercare instructions. This will include how to care for the surgical site and incisions, pain relief that may be used to handle discomfort and when you may resume normal activity.
Risks of tummy tuck
Complications following tummy tuck depend on numerous factors such as general health, smoking history, previous abdominal surgery and medications. Mr Karri will explain how risks apply to you and will send you detailed pre-operative instructions to minimise these risks.
Scar / poor scarring – a full tummy tuck scar runs from hip to hip and will initially be red and raised. For some patients it can take a number of months for the scar to settle.
Bruising and swelling
Numbness – numbness over lower abdomen is expected and will gradually return over a number of weeks
Bleeding and haematoma formation
Collection of fluid (seroma)– can collect under the skin and will resolve over a few weeks
Infection – antibiotics will be given at the time of surgery and after to reduce the risk of infection
Skin necrosis / delayed wound healing – higher risk in smokers
Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
Skin relaxation – after a number of months a small roll or bulge may appear just above the scar. This represents skin relaxation and the roll can be removed with additional surgery at a lower cost.