Tummy Tuck FAQs
1. What is a mini-tummy tuck?
A mini-tummy tuck or mini-abdominoplasty involves a lesser version of the full operation and so the scar is much shorter, usually more resembling a caesarean-section scar in terms of the length. It is best used when the majority of the concerns about the tummy are sited below the belly button or umbilicus. The umbilicus acts as a limit on what can be achieved higher up above the belly button but it can involve tightening of the muscles lower down in the tummy. More recently, there have been advances to the mini operation where more improvement can be achieved via endoscopic or keyhole techniques or by detaching the belly button to allow access more superiorly, and then suturing the belly button back in place.
2. What scarring should you expect after a tummy tuck?
In a full tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, the scar will extend from one side of the groin and hip right the way across to the other side so it is a significant scar but I will usually be able to place it below the bikini line or belt line so that in swim or underwear the scar is not detectable.
There is a scar around the belly button but there are tricks and techniques to make this inconspicuous and I will usually aim to give you a belly button better than the one you have before surgery, if at all possible.
For some people a so-called Fleur de Lys abdominoplasty may be appropriate when much more tissue can be removed but there is then a visible midline vertical scar.
3. How long does it take to recover from a tummy tuck?
Whenever I undertake a full tummy tuck I will always tighten the muscles of the abdomen. Some patients, particularly women after pregnancy, suffer separation or a sagging of the muscles of the tummy and I know that with proper technique I can restore this for them to enhance the final outcome and profile. This does mean that recovery takes some time. You will need to avoid heavy exercise or the gym and to wear a support garment for upto six weeks at which point you can start to work up to all the activities you were doing before surgery. Full recovery and healing can take three months or longer.
4. Is it possible to lose weight from a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck is definitely not a method for weight loss. You will lose weight from a tummy tuck as tissue is being removed, particularly if combined with liposuction but if you need to lose or are planning to lose weight, then it is much better that you lose the weight before surgery. That way surgery is much safer; there are likely to be much less complications and the surgeon will be able to achieve a much better cosmetic outcome for you.
5. How soon can I exercise after a tummy tuck?
When I undertake a tummy tuck I spend some time in tightening the muscles, to really improve the profile of the tummy; in fact it is possible to achieve an athletic look or even the hint of a six pack by judicious use of concomitant liposuction. There is a space created between the skin and the abdominal wall during surgery which will tend to fill with fluid and if one is too active the fluid will build up and make you uncomfortable. A support garment is used to help prevent fluid build up and to protect the muscle repair; this usually needs to be worn for up to six weeks. Generally, therefore, I advise avoiding the gym and heavy exercise for a similar period of six weeks or so.