Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty)
A concern for many people, especially post-pregnancy or as a result of ageing, is difficulty getting rid of stubborn belly fat.
While exercise and diet can contribute to the process of burning excess abdominal fat, we often find that the combination of ageing and the effects of pregnancy can cause weakened abdominal muscles, loose skin and undesired fat around the waistline – despite a living healthy lifestyle.
We recommend abdominoplasty, better known as a tummy tuck surgery, as an effective solution to get rid of persistent belly fat, restore tummy tightness, and improve the shape and profile of your abdominal area. But, most importantly, tummy tuck surgery helps many people renew their self-confidence.
If you’re considering options to improve your stomach shape and contour, and remove excess skin, unwanted scars, fat or stretch marks, a tummy tuck is a minimally invasive surgery that produces refined and elegant results.
What is a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)?
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that improves the appearance, shape and profile of your abdominal area by removing excess fat and skin in the area, and when required, tightening stretched abdominal muscles. The abdominoplasty procedure is effective in addressing three things – abdominal skin, fat and the underlying muscle wall.
We take between 2 – 4 hours in total to carry out the procedure, which is performed under general anaesthesia (you’ll be asleep throughout).
We offer two types of abdominoplasty, though we treat every person on a case-by-case basis to ensure our patients get exactly the results they desire.
Benefits of a tummy tuck
The main benefit of a tummy tuck is a firmer, flatter abdominal contour, and in some cases, tightening of abdominal muscles.
Naturally, the major motivation for most patients who undergo abdominoplasty surgery is physical appearance, but subsequently, overall improved confidence and self-esteem.
Further positive outcomes of a tummy tuck include:
- Better fitting clothing and gym gear
- Improved core strength through tightened abdominal muscles
- Better body posture and spinal support
- Less back pain
- Ease of exercise through improved range of motion and lower weight
- Bladder control (reduced incontinence)
- Less risk of long-term health problems associated with belly fat
A full tummy tuck is the most popular option; we address the entire tummy area by removing excess fat, and loose skin and addressing the muscles in the abdominal wall.
A full tummy tuck is often favoured by women post-pregnancy as it covers the full length of the abdominal wall. We remove excess tissue (along with any stretch marks) and the outcome is a significantly tighter contour.
We can carry out less extensive change in the abdominal contour with a ‘limited abdominoplasty’ or mini abdominoplasty.
The mini abdominoplasty procedure is a less invasive form of tummy tuck and is preferred by patients who are concerned about scarring, which is comparatively minimal. The surgery itself is also shorter in duration and requires less recovery time, so those who choose a mini tummy tuck can stay as a day patient.
Asking questions and knowing what to expect on operation day is an important part of the abdominoplasty procedure.
Before the procedure, Dr de Waal will talk you through the operation and draw planned incisions on the abdominal area to make sure that they align with your expectations and what has been discussed in the consultation. We will then place you under general anaesthesia.
From here, an extended tummy tuck operation (where all three areas are addressed) requires a horizontal incision across the pubic hairline.
We gently separate the skin from the abdominal wall up to the lower border of the rib cage, draw the loose skin downward and remove the excess. If you have stretched abdominal muscles, these will also be brought together.
The resulting scar extends across the lower abdomen but is usually covered by most clothing and swimwear.
Drains are typically used in this surgery and kept in the wound area until the day following your surgery. We use these so that tissue fluid does not accumulate beneath the skin.
Altogether, the tummy tuck procedure takes between two to four hours, with usually one day of hospitalisation following the surgery.
Dr de Waal takes special care in every operation, using advanced techniques and his extensive experience to ensure minimal scarring and bruising to help with recovery.
Generally, abdominoplasty recovery time depends on the extent of your procedure, although in most cases, you can expect a full recovery within three to four weeks, with a full return to most activities anticipated in two to three weeks.
However, full physical activity, such as any strenuous exercise, may require six to eight weeks of recovery.
After your operation, you can expect:
- 1 night of hospital care
- 5-10 days of general rest and lower movement
- 2-3 weeks until return to work and normal social engagements
- 6-8 weeks until return to the gym and other strenuous activities
- 3-6 months until you’ll see the final result
*recovery times are approximate and dependent on the individual and their procedure.
Implications for any surgery are typically unlikely with proper care. However, like all surgeries, there is always a risk of bleeding, infection and bad reactions to anaesthesia. Typically, hazards are minimal for healthy tummy tuck candidates who follow pre-surgery and post-op instructions.
Common (temporary) surgery risks:
- Temporary numbness
- Discomfort on movement/coughing
Infrequent surgery risks:
- Bleeding (haematoma)
- Delayed healing
- Poor scarring
Before any procedure, Dr Dewaal will discuss any potential risks and make sure that you fit the profile of a healthy tummy tuck candidate.