What is Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

Abdominoplasty, or a 'tummy tuck', is one of the five most common cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK, accounting for just over 10% of all cosmetic procedures in 2018 alone.

Following significant weight change it is common to be left with excess, sagging skin in the abdominal area. This is particularly common for women after pregnancy, and can also occur naturally as a result of the ageing process.

An abdominoplasty removes the excess skin from above the waistline, tightens the muscles and fascia of the abdominal wall, and restores a tighter, flatter-looking stomach. The procedure is often combined with liposuction to remove fat and improve the contours of the abdomen.


Why do people have it

Abdominoplasty is a very common procedure for both men and women looking to achieve a flatter and more toned abdominal area.

Abdominoplasty primarily targets excess skin (not fat) and is therefore a remedial procedure following body weight and shape changes, as opposed to targeting actual weight loss itself (unless combined with liposuction).

Abdominoplasty is a safe and highly effective procedure that can achieve immediate changes with very little downtime, and the treatment can deliver both an improved physical and psychological sense of wellbeing.

Abdominoplasty patients tend to have one or all of the following symptoms:

  • Uneven fat distribution 
  • Excess, sagging skin 
  • Loss of elasticity in the skin and stretch marks
  • Stomach muscle weakness 

Who is suitable

Cadogan Clinic considers individuals fit for the procedure, if all of the following are true of them:

  • Physically and psychologically fit and healthy
  • Bothered by the appearance of their abdomen and have a stable weight
  • Have realistic expectations of what can be achieved by surgery

Types of Abdominoplasty Procedure

A traditional Full Tummy Tuck or Abdominal Reduction is now obsolete. Brazilian Abdominoplasty is the most advanced and desired form of treatment.   


What to expect

CONSULTATION 

The first step for all of our patients is to meet with the surgeon we feel is best placed to perform your procedure for a consultation.  At the consultation you will be able to discuss with your surgeon what your hope to achieve from the procedure, as well as discuss in detail what may or may not be possible given your existing abdomen profile.

Your surgeon will take you through the various options (Full/Mini/Extended) and which is most suitable and preferential for you. Having established this, several key abdominal measurements will be made and standard clinical photography will be taken.

Finally a comprehensive discussion regarding risks and complications will take place, alongside a discussion regarding the post procedure and recovery phase. Your previous medical history will also be recorded (including previous surgery, medications, allergies etc.) and an assessment of your fitness for surgery.

If your surgeon feels you are a good candidate for surgery, you are then invited to consider whether you would like to proceed for surgery or otherwise following a two week 'cooling off' period.

Within this period you are welcome to come in and discuss your potential surgery with your surgeon as many times as you like.

PRE – PROCEDURE

If you choose to proceed with surgery, the next time you come into the Clinic after your final consultation will be the day of your procedure. Before admission the following behavioural changes are recommended / required:

  • In the 6 weeks before your procedure we recommend smoking is discontinued as patients who smoke have a higher risk of healing more slowly and complications  
  • In the week before your procedure you must cease taking Aspirin or any medication that contains Aspirin
  • In the 6 hours prior to surgery you must not consume food or any drink, other than small sips of clear fluid (e.g. still water, black coffee, black tea) which are allowed up to 2 hours before admission 

DAY OF THE PROCEDURE

On the day of your procedure we ask that you arrive for your admission an hour before the agreed start time of surgery. At this point a nurse will come and record blood pressure and other relevant vitals, you will meet with your anaesthetist and your surgeon who will make the final mark-ups.

The procedure itself takes place under general anaesthetic over the course of two to three hours. An incision is made across the underwear line to ensure inconspicuous scarring, and the abdominal skin lifted to allow the surgeon to tighten (and if necessary repair) the weakened muscles underneath. The skin itself is then pulled back down over the wall, excess skin is trimmed away, and the skin is then sutured back to original incision line with increased, but not excessive, tension. A new opening for the naval (belly button) is then created.

Following the procedure, you will recover in our ambulatory recovery rooms for between two to three hours, dependent on the scale of the procedure. Once our specialist nursing team are happy that your initial recovery is complete and you are safe to return home, you will be allowed to leave the Clinic accompanied by a friend or member of your family.

Once home you will have access to our dedicated oncall nursing team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This team of specialists are dedicated to your comfort and pain control, and are there to field any questions you may have in the immediate post operative phase.

Post procedure pain can take one to two weeks to fully subside and tightness may be felt for several weeks. You will be fitted with a post surgical garment to provide support and help with bruising and swelling. This should be worn day and night for 4 – 6 weeks. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for 6 – 12 weeks, with results improving for up to 12 – 18 months after the procedure.

We ask that you come in and see our nursing team 1 week after surgery to ensure your incision sites have been properly reviewed. At this juncture we also recommend you meet with one of our on site aestheticians to discuss ongoing treatment to support the healing and scarring process.

We ask that you come in to see your surgeon after 6 - 8 weeks for a final check up.

What are the risks

Complications are rare although, as with all surgery, possible. Your surgeon will discuss each of these risks comprehensively at your consultation. Read our FAQ section for more information.

Why come to The Cadogan Clinic for your Abdominoplasty?

  • Cadogan Clinic is an award winning specialist cosmetic clinic, with a track record of delivering safe, high quality cosmetic surgery  
  • We’re home to several of London’s best abdominoplasty specialists, and combination liposuction specialists
  • Unlike many of our competitors, we use the latest anaesthetic technologies to minimise your downtime, and allow you to return home on the day of your procedure 
  • Our nursing team provide a dedicated 24/7 oncall service during recovery – whatever your question, we can provide the answer 
  • We offer a complimentary consultation and treatment with our onsite team of aestheticians to ensure you heal and scar quickly and efficiently 

Abdominoplasty Results

Click here to view our gallery of Before & After and Abdominoplasty results

Frequently Asked Questions

As the name suggests, this is a lesser procedure than the Full or Brazilian Abdominoplasty and is designed to treat a lesser problem. A mini-abdominoplasty focuses on rejuvenating the abdominal wall below the umbilicus (tummy button), the area most commonly affected by pregnancy.

The procedure consists of liposuction of as much of the abdominal wall as is required and excision of surplus skin. Frequently, the recti muscles will need to be tightened to give a taut, flat tummy. Unlike the Brazilian or full abdominoplasty, the umbilicus (tummy button) is not moved and is therefore unscarred.

There is only a single scar running across the lower abdomen. The longer the scar, the more skin is removed and the tighter it is. Very often it is not much longer than a caesarian section scar and easily hidden. We should remember that transverse scars are of better quality than vertical ones. This scar can be kept low through the pubic hair. In this case, the skin removed can include pubic hair extending upwards towards the tummy button. The downside is that patients who tend to make bad scars may form keloid scars where the incision passes through hair follicles.

The mini-abdominoplasty is particularly appropriate for patients who have had a caesarian section, and are left with a fold of skin above the scar visible through clothing.

The mini-abdominoplasty can be carried out under Local or General Anesthesia as a day case without drains.

There are three main candidates of people who require tummy tucks.

People with good skin elasticity - no loosening inside the abdominal walls and only sub-dermal fat accumulation that they want to have removed. Often times it is possible to achieve the desired results for these patients using liposuction or laser liposuction.

People whose skin elasticity is intact, but they have an enlarged abdominal wall. For these patients, the desired result is obtained by making an incision of 3 to 4 cm and entering to do an endoscopy in order to repair the abdomen wall.

People with loose and sagging skin. For these patients, it is necessary to remove the loose skin and then repair the deformed muscles.

A tummy tuck operation may be required for various reasons when patients have a deformation in their abdomen. This operation is often needed for women who gain and lose large amounts of weight frequently during and after pregnancies.

There are several ways to perform a tummy tuck, and your surgeon will determine during your consultation what the best method of surgery is for your case. If your skin is fairly tight, without too much sagging, then an endoscopic tummy tuck may be all that is needed. This can be performed with an endoscope just by narrowing the abdominal wall from the inside. For patients with excess loose and sagging skin, a mini tummy tuck will be enough for the lower parts of the tummy. If there is a hernia in the abdomen, then it will be necessary to perform a full tummy tuck.

Recovery time after an abdominoplasty can vary from patient to patient. Whether you're having a partial or complete tummy tuck, the area that's operated on will have stitches and bandages, so it's very important to follow all your surgeon's instructions on how to care for the bandage in the days following surgery.

Your Cadogan Clinic surgeon will also instruct you on how to best position yourself whilst lying in bed at least for a few days following your abdominoplasty, usually on your back or side with your knees bent. The procedure is carried out as a day case and you will be able to walk out of hospital, usually slightly hunched as the skin is now very tight. By the next day, you should be able to straighten up and walk around the house. The day after you will be using your computer, but we would recommend you do not travel to work for about 10 days. You should seriously limit any strenuous activity over the next 6 weeks and if the muscles have been tightened then this should be extended to 3 months. Your surgeon will advise you on what is appropriate for you.

Pain is moderate after surgery and will if necessary be controlled by simple analgesia. It may be advisable to arrange for a friend or relative to stay with you during the first day or two of your tummy tuck recovery time at home. 

Abdominoplasty surgery, commonly known as a tummy tuck, is an operation to remove extra skin, scars, stretch marks and fat from the tummy, and sometimes to tighten the tummy muscles. What is the alternative treatment? Losing weight and exercising to tighten up the tummy muscles may help. For some younger patients, liposuction (where fat is sucked out through a tube inserted into small cuts) can help. This can be done on its own, or with a tummy tuck.

As with all surgical procedures generally,  patients must abstain from taking blood thinners, limit drinking alcohol and smoking as much as possible and ideally, stop altogether in the last couple of days preceding surgery.

After the abdominoplasty surgery, the patient comes to the hospital room dressed in a compression garment. We recommend this compression garment is used for three weeks. Light walks can commence immediately after surgery but it is wise to wait one and a half months before undertaking heavy exercise or returning to the gym or working out. You should refrain from lifting anything heavy for 4-6 weeks following the surgery as well.

The belly-button is extracted from the skin without any change, so the shape stays the same. A replacement belly-button is made that will look the same as you had before. 

The tummy tuck operation is best undertaken after pregnancy if possible. So if you are planning to have more children, it may be best to wait until afterwards to have a tummy tuck. There are no upper age limits in this surgery. It is possible to operate on people who are healthy and take good care of themselves, at any age.

If there is sagging in the skin, especially any excess under the tummy, the preferred size and location for the abdominoplasty scars is 4 cm on both sides, left and right of the caesarean scar line. This scar can usually be hidden behind bikini bottoms and turns into a thin, white line after the healing period, similar to a caesarean scar. 

There is no harm in getting pregnant one year after a tummy tuck surgery. If the person does not gain too much weight during pregnancy, the tummy will return to how it looked right after abdominoplasty.

During the tummy tuck operation, the abdomen is narrowed and an inner corset is built. Patients usually lose weight after the surgery, but in the case of weight gain, the abdomen area does not return to its shape before the operation in any way, but maintains its proportion.

The right time for a tummy tuck operation for those who have given birth is the end of the first year. At the end of this period, the patient can lose as much extra weight as she can and the degree of sagging and stretchmarks settle. Ideally, any weight-loss should reach completion before the tuck since they are performed to correct the end results of a weight loss program. Best results are achieved if the patient has reached their ideal weight.

Yes. For the right patient and with the correct planning, a tummy tuck and liposuction can be carried out simultaneously.

People have this surgery to take away extra skin and fat, or get a flatter tummy, often after pregnancy or gaining and losing weight. It can help re-join the muscles of the abdominal wall if they have been pulled apart in the middle (known as ‘divarification of the recti’). Stretch marks can sometimes be cut away or tightened to make them less obvious. Ideally, your weight will be normal before the surgery. A tummy tuck is not for people who are very overweight, or carried out in order to lose weight. For the right person, a tummy tuck can make a big difference to their confidence and quality of life.

The abdominal reduction or "tummy tuck" is a surgical procedure to tighten the skin of the abdominal wall, frequently performed following childbirth and weight loss.

Plumper patients will require liposuction to reduce the fat following the procedure and, where the muscles are stretched, some tightening of the fascia that holds them together will be required.

There are four main different abdominoplasty procedures:
- The Cadogan Clinic Brazilian tummy tuck.
- Mini or partial abdominoplasty.
- Full Abdominoplasty or traditional tummy tuck is now obsolete at the Cadogan Clinic.
- Cadogan Caesar Correction (CCS) - post C-section scar revision

There are other techniques used in particular situations and these are described elsewhere on this website.

The primary difference between a mini abdominoplasty and a full abdominoplasty is that in the first the tummy button is not moved and therefore skin tightening is only carried out in the lower half of the abdominal wall, below the tummy button. Liposuction is used for the whole of the abdominal wall and the muscles can still be tightened.

The full abdominoplasty is the traditional Tummy Tuck or Abdominal Reduction. We, at the Cadogan Clinic, consider it to be obsolete and will explain our reasons. It is, however, the common procedure carried out countrywide to remove excess skin and fat. All the skin and underlying fat of the abdominal wall from the umbilicus (tummy button) is removed allowing the muscles beneath to be tightened. The skin of the upper abdomen is freed up as far as the ribs and pulled down and stitched leaving a long scar across the lower part of the abdomen to be hidden beneath panties or bikini. The freed-up tummy button is brought through at the appropriate level.

This is a big procedure requiring several nights in a hospital and, because of the undermining (freeing up) of all the skin and soft tissues of the abdominal wall, carries risks of blood and serum collecting under the wound. This issue is solved to some degree by using multiple drains, which remain in place for some days. These drains are uncomfortable, inconvenient and only partially reduce these risks.  This is the traditional Abdominoplasty.

At the Cadogan Clinic, we can produce a tight, slim contoured abdomen without using drains and allowing patients to walk out of the clinic the same day. The risk of blood and serum collecting under the wound is small. The key is liposuction used both to thin and contour the abdomen, but also to mobilize the skin without cutting its blood supply.

A Brazilian abdominoplasty – or Brazilian tummy tuck – is similar to the traditional abdominoplasty technique, in that the same amount of surplus skin is removed and the tummy button or umbilicus is repositioned; however, all the undermining is achieved by very careful liposuction, avoiding cutting blood vessels and nerves. This procedure therefore avoids multiple drains and can very often be carried out as a day case.

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