We know through experience that the decision to have an abdominoplasty is generally preceded by a long decision making process. With this information we would like to help you with this process, by advising you about the procedure itself and the possibilities and risks involved in this operation. This advice, does not however, replace the need for an extensive personal consultation with your surgeon who will thoroughly address your specific questions.
When is an abdominoplasty useful?
How is an abdominoplasty carried out?
What do I have to consider before an Abdominoplasty (pre-operative phase)?
What do I have to consider after an abdominoplasty (post-operative phase)?
When can I resume normal activities?
What are the possible risks with an abdominoplasty?
Which result can I expect after an abdominoplasty and what are the chances of success?
Brought into shape. An abdominoplasty is useful after substantial weight loss, as the skin around the abdomen does not retract sufficiently. Attempts to rectify this through sporting activities, such as sit-ups, does not resolve the problem as it is the muscles underneath and not the skin that are being toned. The stretching of the abdominal wall during pregnancy can leave many women with an abdominal area that doesn’t look like it did before. The loosening, or tearing of the tissues is often associated with stretch marks and thereby areas of excess skin can arise in the upper and/or lower abdomen. Loose or weak tissue is also, to some extent, a genetic trait.
An abdominoplasty should only be carried out when there are no further plans for children and when during a weight reduction program, a stable weight has been reached and maintained.
The aim of the procedure is to remove the excess skin, stretch marks and fatty tissue from the upper and/or lower abdomen and to tighten the underlying muscle, which subsequently makes the abdomen look aesthetically firmer.
Procedure. An incision is made, which extends across the bikini area of the abdomen and finishes at the sides. The soft tissue of the abdomen is carefully moved up towards the ribcage and if required, the abdominal wall can be strengthened by the joining of the two stomach muscles which have moved apart. Thereafter, any excess skin and soft tissue will be removed.
The navel (belly button) stays in its original position and is fixed into place in the newly pulled down and tightened skin. A drain is inserted to remove any fluid over the next few days. The incision is then closed using fine stitching and is then dressed. In the case of the excess skin being mainly in the upper abdomen, an alternative incision can be made under the breasts and the loose soft tissue pulled up. A further vertical incision made in the abdomen may also be required.
Type of anaesthesia. This procedure is usually carried out under general anaesthetic.
On the day of the operation please do not use any oily shower or bathing products but normal soap or shower gel and your skin should not be moisturised. Shaving the upper region of the pubic area is also advised. After the procedure a support garment has to be worn, which can, prior to the operation be measured and fitted by us and then ordered for you. Smokers should, after a consultation with their doctor, stop smoking two weeks before the procedure as it is possible that circulation problems in the operated area could occur.
Information on general measures and the necessary preliminary examinations will be put together for you personally in a pamphlet which you will receive at your consultation.
For a few days after the procedure a dressing must be worn, this is held in place by an abdominal corset. After the surgery it is necessary to sleep with a raised upper body and the legs slightly bent. When sitting up, stretching should be avoided to prevent tension on the stitches. Swelling or a feeling of tension regularly occurs after surgery but these changes should not worry you and should disappear within a few days.
After the surgery the risk of thrombosis is higher and therefore it is necessary to take a thrombosis prophylaxis for the next 5 to 10 days. The drain is usually removed between the 2nd and 7th day after the operation and depending on the technique; the stitches can be removed between 10 and 14 days after surgery. Showering and bathing is only allowed once the stitches have been removed.
Any residual swelling can be, to a lesser extent, present for several weeks as can a loss of sensation in the skin, although this will usually return to normal. If the abdominal muscles are tightened then an abdominal corset must be worn for 3 months.
For the first few weeks after the procedure sports and physical exertion should be avoided. Heat sources, such as saunas and above all heavy lifting, can cause complications within the first 3 months. Light cycling is possible 3 weeks after surgery but sports that involve the abdominal muscles can only be started after 3 months. Sun protection is necessary until all bruising has faded away and until all scars have healed.
No procedure is without risk. The general risks of surgery include the possibility of bleeding, thrombosis and infection. Especially with an abdominoplasty, there is a risk of re-opening the wound caused by movement too soon or too much movement after the procedure has been carried out. Temporary repeated tapping or draining of the lymph fluid may be necessary and occasionally small “dog ears” on the ends of the wound appear which can be successfully removed through a small readjustment under local anaesthetic.
A nice tight stomach. With an abdominoplasty, an improvement in the abdominal contours is achieved. The abdomen is once again toned and most of the stretch marks are removed. The final result can be assessed after approximately 3 months.