What is a tummy tuck?

Tummy tuck surgery, or abdominoplasty, is a procedure to remove excess skin, fat, stretch marks, and scars from the abdomen. It can also tighten the muscles in the area.

Patients who get a tummy tuck are usually already at a healthy weight. It is not a surgery to treat obesity, nor is it for people trying to lose weight. It is best for issues with excess skin and fat around the tummy due to pregnancy, weight loss, or even just the natural aging process. 

A tummy tuck can help with: 

  • Achieving a flatter tummy
  • Reducing the gap between your abdominal muscles (abs) that can occur due to pregnancy
  • Reducing scars and stretch marks
  • Relieving back pain and improving posture
  • Improving body confidence
  • Relieving some medical issues, such as ventral hernias or some types of incontinence

How does a tummy tuck work?

There are different types of abdominoplasty and related procedures, which work in different ways.

Full abdominoplasty

A full abdominoplasty is for patients with a significant amount of extra skin (skin laxity), excess fat and muscle separation.

During surgery, the surgeon will make a cut from hip to hip and to the navel (belly button) to remove the excess skin and fat. They will also tighten the muscles below the navel. 

This procedure can leave large scars, but also provides the most improvement in the abdomen’s shape.

Mini abdominoplasty

Best for people with less excess skin and fat, a mini tummy tuck works in the same way as the procedure above, except the surgeon will not cut around the navel. Instead they will remove a long wedge of skin and fat from the excision between the hips.

Liposuction

Sometimes, the doctor will recommend stomach liposuction in addition to a tummy tuck, as they can be done at the same time. Liposuction can also be an alternative to having a tummy tuck, particularly if you are younger and have good skin elasticity.

How long does a tummy tuck take?

The surgery itself will take anywhere between 2 and 5 hours. You will likely stay overnight, or even for a few days, for monitoring and to ensure your comfort. 

You will be up and moving from the day of your operation, although it is important to make sure you have someone to support you to take care of yourself at home during the first 24 hours. You should be back to your regular level of fitness in about 6 weeks. 

Your clinical team will recommend taking between 4 and 6 weeks off work to ensure that you heal and recuperate properly.

How much does a tummy tuck cost?

It usually costs between £4,000 and £6,000 to have a tummy tuck in the United Kingdom. The price depends on a number of factors, including your overall health, the clinic, and the surgeon. 

Many clinics offer cheaper procedures overseas, but these often do not have the same standards for safety and quality as those in the UK. Always be wary of abdominoplasty offers that seem ‘too good to be true’ – these surgeries can be ineffective or even dangerous. 

Abdominoplasty is cosmetic surgery, so is not usually available on the NHS. Nevertheless, we offer payment plans to cover their treatment. To work out how much you want to borrow and the APR, just use the Chrysalis finance calculator.

Is a tummy tuck safe?

Tummy tucks are generally safe. Your doctor will talk to you about the risks involved and make sure you understand them before you agree to surgery. 

Depending on your overall health, they will give you specific advice on how to reduce the risks or whether any parts of the procedure are not safe for you to have. 

Possible risks of a tummy tuck include: 

  • Scarring: Some people develop thick scars or extra skin around the site of the surgery. It can be difficult to predict how your skin will heal, so be sure to tell your doctor if you have a history of keloid scars or scars that do not fade over time
  • Infections: Sometimes, a tummy tuck will not heal quickly or may develop an infection. A doctor can usually provide antibiotics, dressings, and other medicines to combat this
  • Bruising: Blood may collect under the skin, resulting in a hematoma. This usually looks like bruising
  • Stomach pains: Some people have pain or cramps while they are healing
  • Numbness: Numbness and tingling can affect the abdomen and legs

Almost all surgeries also come with the following risks:        

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blot clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • An allergic reaction to the aesthetic (very rare)

 If you have unexpected side effects or are feeling unwell after your operation, call the clinic as soon as possible. They will be able to help you manage these effects and help you heal faster. 

If you experience problems breathing or chest pain, seek emergency medical attention.

Who should not have a tummy tuck?

A tummy tuck is not a procedure to help you lose weight if you are overweight. You will need a combination of diet, exercise, and other doctor-recommended lifestyle changes to lose weight before having this type of surgery. 

A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is also not for people who are of a healthy weight who feel they need to tone their abdomen or belly. Try abdominal exercises and other forms of exercise, or speak to a doctor if you have health concerns about belly fat but are not overweight. For more information on weight loss, please visit our Diet Vs Exercise page. 

Tummy tucks are not safe or suitable for people who are pregnant or would like to become pregnant in the future.

Tummy tuck recovery and aftercare

When you leave the clinic, you will have dressings and a garment called a corset that will apply pressure to the area. You may also have special pants to apply pressure to your tummy. It is essential that someone drives you home and stays with you for 24 hours.

 It usually takes about 6 weeks to fully recover and see the full results of the abdominoplasty.

Do I need a tummy tuck?

You may be considering a tummy tuck if you have lost a considerable amount of weight and are unhappy with how the excess skin and fat looks on your abdomen. A tummy tuck or mini tummy tuck can make a big difference to both your health and confidence. 

When people meet the right criteria, tummy tucks have a very high level of patient satisfaction.

To find out more about tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty), contact us or book a consultation with one of our experienced specialists at The McIndoe Centre. Alternatively, you can call our free helpline for more information and professional advice on 01342 488054.

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Page last reviewed on 04/11/2021

Patient Information Hub

  • If you are thinking about having cosmetic surgery, here are some important questions that you should ask yourself to help you make the decision that is right for you.

    • What do I want to change and why do I want to have surgery?
    • Have I considered all the options?
    • Can surgery give me the results I want?
    • Am I expecting the surgery to change my life as well as my appearance?
    • Is now the right time?

    Having surgery is a big decision

    For more information and advice about cosmetic surgery contact our Helpline Team on 01342 488054 or email info@mcindoe.co.uk

  • Planning your long-term goals with your consultant, and researching the procedure, will reinforce whether surgery is the right option for you.

    Surgery is not without risk so you should be sure in your reasons for wanting to go ahead. It is important that your expectations are realistic and that the advantages to you always outweigh the risk of surgery. 

    Take this checklist to your consultation with the surgeon performing the procedure. Discuss each topic with your surgeon to help you make the decision that is right for you before having surgery.

    Having surgery is a big decision

    For more information and advice about cosmetic surgery contact our Helpline Team on 01342 488054 or email info@mcindoe.co.uk

  • Think carefully before having cosmetic surgery

    Never feel rushed or pressured into giving your consent. Be wary of surgeons or staff who try to convince you to go ahead. Take plenty of time to make your decision.

    We strongly advise you take at least two weeks after your consultation with the surgeon performing the procedure to think things through before surgery.

    Having surgery is a big decision

    For more information and advice about cosmetic surgery contact our Helpline Team on 01342 488054 or email info@mcindoe.co.uk