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What is an abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a procedure that tightens abdominal muscles and removes excess fat and skin. This can be necessary after weight loss or pregnancy, both of which can result in loose abdominal skin and stretched muscles. A partial abdominoplasty, or mini tummy tuck, is less invasive and targets fat located only in the lower abdomen.


The most aesthetically satisfying result of this procedure is a narrower waist and firmer abdomen, which will give you a more youthful appearance. An abdominoplasty can often also result in improved posture, and can relieve some types of back pain, since the tightened muscles now give better spinal support. The procedure can also be combined with surgery to repair a ventral (abdominal) hernia.


How do I plan for my abdominoplasty?

Before any surgery is performed, your first consultation with your cosmetic surgeon will be a discussion about what your expectations are, what abdominoplasty can achieve, and whether you should have a full or a mini tummy tuck.

Your surgeon will examine your abdomen and explain the procedure to you so you know all you need to in order to make an informed decision. A tummy tuck may be the right option for you if you lack abdominal tone, if you have a stretched or protruding belly, if you have an excess of loose, sagging skin in your abdominal area, and if your weight is stable.

What is the procedure for an abdominoplasty?

The procedure, which can take 2 to 5 hours, involves making an incision across the lower abdomen and another around the navel.

The skin is lifted, the abdominal muscles under it are pulled together and stitched into place, and excess skin is removed. The navel is repositioned. Finally, the incisions are closed and protected by a sterile dressing.

How should I prepare for an abdominoplasty?

Before your surgery you may be asked to stop smoking for 2 – 4 weeks prior to the procedure. Nicotine retards the healing process, and quitting for as long as possible before surgery helps improve blood flow.

You will also have to have a blood test before surgery is performed.

You should stop taking certain medication, like aspirin and some anti-inflammatory drugs. Avoid recreational drugs, and disclose to your surgeon any other medication you’re taking, since you may need to adjust these.

Be sure to arrange for transport to and from the clinic, since you will not be able to drive yourself after the procedure.

Where will my abdominoplasty be performed?
The surgery will be performed in one of our fully equipped operating theatres.
What anaesthetic will be used for my abdominoplasty?
The procedure will be performed under general anaesthetic or intravenous sedation. Your surgeon will discuss the options with you.
How do I recover from my abdominoplasty?

You may spend just a few hours at the clinic after the procedure, or your surgeon may recommend that you stay for a night or two. Once you leave the clinic, you will experience some discomfort in the first week, but your surgeon will prescribe medication to help ease the pain.

Thereafter, the discomfort will gradually decrease. During the recovery period you will need to wear an abdominal binder to support your abdomen and prevent fluid buildup.

What can I expect after my surgery?

The swelling, bruising and discomfort you will feel are normal. After surgery, you will have a gauze dressing over the incision. You may also need a small plastic drain, to drain the fluid for a week or two. You should keep the dressing dry for at least 48 hours and avoid baths, hot tubs or swimming for about 6 weeks.

There will be sutures along the incision line, which will dissolve on their own. During the first few days, you may not be able to stand up straight, but you should do some walking every day to get back to moving normally and try to move your legs and feet often.

When can I return to normal activities?

The main factors that will affect your recovery time are your age, health, and body weight. Recovery will take up to six weeks and you should avoid doing any heavy lifting, strenuous or vigorous activity for at least six weeks.

The recovery period is usually shorter for a mini-tummy tuck, but you should still avoid anything strenuous for 6 weeks. Don’t be in a hurry – take time to get back to normal.

What are the risks involved in abdominoplasty?

With this procedure, like all other surgery, there is a (low) risk of post-operative infection, bleeding and swelling. There can be an increased risk of complications if you have diabetes or poor circulation, if you smoke, or if you have heart, lung, or liver disease.

Other complications can include, amongst others, the general risks related to anaesthesia, as well as loss of skin, fluid accumulation, wound separation, blood clotting, numbness, scarring and asymmetry.