A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is a common cosmetic procedure that eliminates excess skin and fat from the abdomen. The overall goal of this procedure is to produce a flatter stomach with less loose skin. Mr Maisam Fazel, an expert aesthetic surgeon, discusses how this procedure is carried out and important things to consider if you are thinking about having a tummy tuck.
What is the difference between a full tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck?
The difference between a full tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck can be summarised as follows:
- The scar from the full tummy tuck is generally much longer than the mini tummy tuck.
- A mini tummy tuck mainly addresses the amount of excess tissue between the belly button and the pubis, but it does not really address any bulges or any fatty tissue that are outside this zone.
- In a mini tummy tuck, generally, no muscle tightening is performed. On the other hand, in a full tummy tuck, the muscle is tightened and brought together. Some liposuction may also be performed for body contouring.
Overall, the results are more dramatic from a full tummy tuck than they are from a mini tummy tuck.
When is the best time to have a tummy tuck?
The best time to have a tummy tuck is when one has completed one’s family and has reached their ideal target weight. This does not mean that you can't have a tummy tuck if you haven’t quite reached your ideal target weight, it just means that you will get a much better result if you are at a stable target weight. In general, the best time to have a tummy tuck is when you feel ready for it and when you have realistic expectations of the results.
What is the recovery like after a tummy tuck?
When thinking about a tummy tuck, one of the things that most people worry about is the recovery and the pain. The operation takes about two hours, is performed under general anaesthetic, and usually involves a one-night stay in hospital. Patients will go home with dissolvable stitches and a dressing and a special garment which must be worn for up to six weeks. Ideally, my patients will have manual lymphatic drainage, which is a special type of massage, for a few weeks after the procedure.
The initial first few days are a little uncomfortable and we give you painkillers for this. Patients are advised to use four or five pillows at night and may find it difficult to stand upright. However, after a week or so most patients are relatively mobile and within two weeks are usually back at work and beginning some gentle exercises. Full recovery takes about six weeks and the swelling can take several months to settle down.
Are the results of a tummy tuck permanent?
One of the questions that people ask me when they are thinking about a tummy tuck is, “Are the results permanent?”, and I would say largely, the answer to this is yes, but there are some important considerations.
Firstly, if somebody gains a large amount of weight following a tummy tuck, then, of course, the results will change and will deteriorate.
Secondly, if someone loses a lot of weight, then the results may be compromised as well and might develop loose skin as a result.
Thirdly, if they fall pregnant after a tummy tuck, then naturally, the abdominal muscles, as well as the skin, will stretch and the results will be compromised. However, a revision tummy tuck can be performed once the pregnancy period is completed and the patient has returned back to a stable weight.
Finally, as with any cosmetic procedure, the ageing process continues and with time the skin quality and the muscle tone will change.
If you would like to find out more, make an appointment with a specialist.