A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure to remove excess fat and skin from the stomach area. The abdominal muscles will also be tightened to help improve the overall appearance of the stomach area. Stretch marks will be removed or at least improved.
A tummy tuck is usually carried out under a general anaesthetic and takes between 2-4 hours. The abdominoplasty surgeon will make an incision across the stomach and remove a section of skin and fat from between the belly button and across to the hip bone. The surgeon may also tighten abdominal muscles through by stitching them closer together. The skin above the navel is then pulled down and a hole is cut for the belly button to be placed. A mini tummy tuck which only removes excess skin is increasingly popular as scarring is minimal and the operation less invasive.
After tummy tuck surgery you will usually be able to leave the hospital after two days. You will be required to take at least two weeks off work and strenuous activity should be avoided for a couple of months. The abdomen area will be very swollen for many weeks or even months. You will not see the full results of the abdominoplasty for up to 12 months. Although the incision scar across the bikini line area will fade, it rarely disappears completely.
Risks and side effects
As well as the risk of the general anaesthetic, the side effects and complications of a tummy tuck include infection, problems with wound healing, fluid build-up and possible haematoma. In rare cases Necrosis can occur, where the blood supply is affected and the surrounding skin dies. Reduced sensation in the treated area can also occur which can sometimes be permanent.
Cost and prices
The price of a tummy tuck in the UK is between £4000-£6000, and around £2000 - £4500 for a mini-tuck. If you choose to have a tummy tuck abroad, you can save up to 40%. For example in Belgium, a tummy tuck will cost around £3500.
NHS, private or abroad
Abdominoplasty is not available on the NHS because a tummy tuck is a purely cosmetic procedure. However, tummy tucks are widely available at most private cosmetic surgery clinics in the UK and abroad.
Is medical treatment abroad a good idea or is it less safe than in the UK?