Purpose: To remove tummy overhang and tighten tummy muscles to give a better tummy profile
Length of operation: 2-3 hours
Anaesthesia: General anaesthetic
Inpatient stay: 2 day
Follow up: 1 week, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year
Time off work: 2 weeks
Recovery: 3-4 weeks
Risks: Scar stretching, Persistent Overhang, Dog Ears, Asymmetry
This is a common plastic surgery operation also termed as tummy tuck. The procedure involves removing excess tummy tissue including skin and fat, thus giving a pleasing look to the tummy. The results are generally excellent with high satisfaction rates. In this description I shall take you through the operation, hospital stay, recovery and the complications. Once you have met me for the initial consultation, I would be quite happy to see you again for a second consultation, so that you can clarify any of your doubts.
Procedure / Hospital Stay
It is advisable to stop smoking for 4 weeks and stop contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy for 4 weeks prior to the procedure. On the day of the operation the surgeon with do skin markings over the tummy. Photographs for documentation and teaching purposes are standard and will be discussed. The procedure is done under general anaesthetic and takes about 2 hours to perform. The procedure is done with a scar which runs across the lower part of the tummy. We would request you to get suitable lingerie during the skin marking just before the procedure. This with help both of us come to a conclusion regarding any special placement of the scar. This scar tends to heal very well with the passage of time. If there is a significant gap in the middle of the tummy then this will require tightening by permanent sutures. The sides of the tummy (love handle area) are not addressed by this procedure and will require liposuction, which is a separate procedure. Do discuss this with Dr Sanjay Azad. The navel is brought out through a new location on the tummy and heals in due course.
While you are in hospital you will have blood tests, fluids through a drip and pain killers. The stitches are all dissolving in nature. At the end there is a bulky dressing on the tummy and two drains. Over the dressings we usually put a tummy binder which is held by a Velcro fastener. When you wake up you will find that your thighs are very flexed on few pillows. This is a precautionary measure to reduce tension on the abdominal wound. We would recommend that after surgery you walk for a few days in a slightly bent position to take tension of the wound. You will gradually straighten out in a week, back to your normal posture.
You will feel quite bruised and swollen after the operation and this settles in due course. We take precautions to prevent clots in your calves by putting on stockings and giving you a blood thinning injection. The hospital stay is conventionally 2-4 days and depends on recovery and drain removal.
Recover After Surgery
At discharge, the dressing stays on and you need to attend the dressing clinic in a weeks time. The dressing is taken down and replaced with a much smaller dressing if required. We would suggest you use a pair of Lycra cycling shorts to support your lower tummy for at least 2 months. Further dressings may or may not be required depending on the wound. You will be seen again in 3 months time. Photographs will be taken at this stage.
You should avoid smoking for 4 weeks after the procedure. Recovery is individual, but most patients get back to work and driving in 3-4 weeks time. Swimming is usually possible at about 8-10 weeks time. Abdominal exercises like crunches can be done at 3 months after surgery.
Overall results are excellent but there are some well known limitations, risks and complications which you should be aware about. Scar, infection and bleeding are issues with any operation. The scar can occasionally separate and become a bit stretched. The very end of the scars on either side can become a bit prominent and sometimes require further surgery under local anaesthetic. It is rare to lose the navel though it has been described. The tummy tuck operation does not treat the love handle area and cannot take away all the stretch marks on the tummy as it primarily deals with the lower part. Asymmetry of the tummy and of the navel on both sides is very common.
Clots in the calf and clots going to the lung are also known complications and we take proper precautions against this happening. You must remember that the body is constantly changing and the profile of your tummy will change with age and weight change.