Stephen McCulley, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon. MBChb, FCS(SA)Plast, FRCS(plast)

Tummy tucks are a form of treatment to re-shape the abdomen

Why Choose To Have A Tummy Tuck?
This procedure is for patients who have excessive skin, fat and stretch marks on the abdomen, commonly as the result of having children. Patients that opt for this procedure may have also lost their waistline and have divarication (separation) of the midline muscles giving further bulge to the tummy. This procedure does result in some weight removal but it is primarily for re-shaping the abdomen and not a means of treating obesity.

Procedure In Brief

Full Abdominoplasty
This procedure is designed for patients with lots of extra skin and fat in the lower tummy. We remove the fatty tissue below the tummy button, and elevate the skin above this area from the muscles down to the bikini line scar.

The tummy button is brought out at the new position. A benefit of having the full abdominoplasty is that before stitching the skin, we can tighten the muscles to give a much improved shape and waistline.

Mini Abdominoplasty
This procedure is designed for patients with some extra skin and fat, but not enough for all of the lower regions to be removed. This scar extends just beyond that for a caesarian section compared to the scar that goes from hip to hip in the full abdominoplasty.

The tummy button is not touched and only the lower tummy is addressed in the procedure. The muscles are not generally tightened, but can be and this can be discussed during your consultation. This method is often used with liposuction.

Scars
The position of the scars will depend on the technique used (as above). Scars tend to be quite pink in the first 6 weeks moving to purple over next 2-3 months and then fade to white. Most patients will form very good quality scars over time. The length of time will vary for each individual patient. A small group of patients form raised or stretched scars.

Medicines
A full medical history will be obtained before any surgery. As a precaution, do not take any over the counter medicines or herbal remedies prior to surgery or for 3 days following. Also avoid aspirin, ibuprofen and Voltarol based tablets. It would be useful to bring a list of any prescribed medications to your pre-op assessment.

Smoking
If you are a smoker, try and stop for six weeks before and after surgery as it can reduce the chances of complications.

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Recovering from Tummy Tucks

Length Of Surgery
The operation takes 45 minutes - 2.30 hours depending on the areas to be treated. This can be done under local anaesthetic though it is usually by general-anaesthetic. (Link here explaining it or saying for 'further information about the different types of anaesthetic can be found here'?)

Length Of Stay In Hospital
Usually two nights, occasionally three. Mini-abdominoplasty usually one night.

Dressings
You will wake up with either glue dressing or steristrips on the wounds and strapping on the abdomen. The heavy strapping will be removed on discharge from hospital and new lighter dressings applied if needed. The lighter dressings are required for a further 7-10 days. Therefore no dressings are needed after two weeks providing all is healed well.

Drains
The use of a small surgical drain into the abdomen is common to remove any unwanted blood/fluid. Patients usually have drains for 48-72 hours. Occasionally patients will be kept in longer.

Abdominal Binder Or Corset
This will be used for 4 weeks following surgery and should be worn as much as possible for the first 10 days.

Time Off Work
People vary in recovery, but allow 2-3 weeks (full anaesthetic can take longer to recover from). This is the most uncomfortable of all the cosmetic procedures and should not be regarded as a minor operation. Most patients are very mobile and comfortable at two weeks. It may be feasible to return to work at that stage. Patients with highly active physical jobs may require longer.

Time To Exercise
Patients usually feel able to walk a distance at 7-10 days, swim by 3 weeks (if fully healed). Strenuous exercise (aerobics etc) should be avoided for 8 weeks. The important point is to avoid excessive stretching of the muscle tightening and the scars over the first few weeks. Sexual activity needs to be similarly judged with respect to this. It is usually best avoided for the first 2-3 weeks.

Post-Operative Instructions
Day 1-4 You should be taking it very easy! You should not be looking after very young children or doing housework without help.

Day 5-14 You can start doing more including longer walking, shopping etc. You will still be uncomfortable during this period becoming quite pain free by the end of the second week.
If all wounds are fine at two weeks you are unlikely to ‘damage’ anything by increasing your activity, so build up activity, as you feel fit.
Week 3-6 You should be able to return to work and return to your normal lifestyle by 8 weeks.

Driving
Patients should avoid driving until they are completely free of pain and restriction, and be able to confidently perform an emergency stop. This is to ensure they will be covered by their insurance policy. It may take up to three weeks to recover sufficiently.

Follow Up
We will check your wound and change the dressing as needed by day 5. You will then have an appointment with Stephen McCulley at 3 months. You will not be charged for any follow up appointment relating to your surgery.

Final Outcome
This operation gives a good result almost immediately. However, the tissues soften over time and into the optimum shape after 4-6 months.

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Potential Complications With Tummy Tucks

This is a routine operation that is a great success for the vast majority of patients. However, as with any procedure, it is very important you understand what can go wrong as well as right. The potential complications are listed below.

  • Loss of skin: This is rare and usually occurs if a surgeon removes too much tissue, making the closure too tight, or by operating on a patient with high risk factors (smoking, obesity & diabetes). It very rarely happens in low risk patients. It is does occur, recovery can take many weeks and will result in a low quality scar. Before any procedure, we access your medical history to identify whether you are a suitable candidate.
  • Scars: The quality of scars vary between patients.
  • Seroma: This is a collection of body fluid under the skin. It presents as a firm mass and needs a needle aspiration to solve.
  • Bleeding: A blood clot can collect in the abdomen needing you to go back to theatre for its removal. This only occurs in approximately 1% of patients within the first 24 hours post-surgery.
  • Infection: Very uncommon but if occurs you may need a course of antibiotics.
  • Pain: A small group of patients experience a lot of pain from the muscle tightening that can persists for a number of weeks.
  • Loss of sensation: The area just above the scar in the mid-line can have altered or absent sensation.
  • Pulling up of pubic hair and groin area: The pubic hair, mons (typo?) and vagina can all be pulled to a small degree if closure is tight. This tends to resolve over subsequent weeks as tissues settle and soften.
  • Blood clots to legs and lung (DVT and PE): Although still rare it is important to avoid these by not smoking, being excessively overweight and moving about after surgery as soon as possible.

If you experience any side-effects that you are concerned about please don't hesitate to contact us.

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What does Tummy Tucks cost?

Full Abdominoplasty from £5,862
Fleur De Lys Abdominoplasty from £6,412
Mini-abdominoplasty from £4,200

What Is Included In The Cost?
The prices listed are all inclusive and cover:

  • The pre-operative assessment and investigations
  • The operation
  • Hospital stay and any treatment required
  • All follow up (nursing and with Stephen McCulley) relating to your surgery
  • Any emergency, re-admissions or revisions relating to your surgery within the first year

Some prices shown are in a range reflecting slight differences in prices or pre-surgery investigations between the two hospitals.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you'd like to see more then please view our frequently asked questions on Cosmetic Body Procedures!

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