Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

What is abdominoplasty?

After pregnancies, weight loss, or with age, the abdominal skin may become loose.  The underlying muscles of the abdominal wall can become weak from a separation (a rectus diastasis) leading to bulging or hernia formation. 

An abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck”, is the surgical procedure to reshape the abdomen by excising the excess skin and tightening both the underlying muscles and the overlying skin.

The Surgery

An abdominoplasty is most often performed under a general anesthetic, though it can be performed with the patient awake using regional anesthetic (epidural anesthesia).  The surgery takes 3 hours and is a same day surgery procedure, meaning you go home the same day as surgery without the need to stay in hospital overnight.

All sutures are dissolvable except the 2 sutures securing the drains.

After Your Surgery

Here are some things to expect after surgery:

  • You will have two drains in place to prevent any fluid from accumulating underneath the skin (called a seroma).  These drains are typically in place for 2-5 days and are easy to manage. 
  • A compression garment is worn for 4 weeks at all times (other than showering).
  • Dry dressings are changed once daily.
  • Patients usually require 1-2 weeks of downtime and are to avoid strenuous exercise for 4-6 weeks.
  • The low horizontal and umbilical scars typically heal very well and continue to fade over time.
Pre-Operation & Post-Operation Recovery Guide

Many people find the skin on their abdomen becomes loose and excessive as they age. This may happen following pregnancies, weight loss or for a number of other reasons. Often a recessed cesarean section scar leads to an unsightly lower abdomen appearance.

Abdominoplasty is the surgical procedure used to remove excess skin from the middle and lower abdomen and if necessary to correct a rectus diastasis (gap between the vertical rectus, or “six pack” muscles) of the abdominal wall.  Liposuction of the flanks is often combined with this procedure to improve the waist contour.

Initial Consultation

Consultation time required: New patient 30 mins.

Approx. total cost: Provided at consultation.

Usual length of operation: 2-3 hours

Usual length of stay: Day surgery or 1 overnight

Type of anesthesia (usually): General.

Are there permanent scars? Yes, typically a lower abdominal horizontal scar, and around the belly button

Pre-Op Instructions

Pre-operative Instructions: No aspirin 2 weeks before, fast according to instructions, take usual meds with a sip on the day of surgery. If you get ill, i.e. flu before surgery, notify us.

Post-operative Course

On discharge: Go home to rest under supervision, drink well, take pain meds as directed, start a light diet as you feel able to. Keep head up and a pillow under your knees when lying down.
After Day 7: Return to usual activities, but expect to feel tired and need rest. No heavy lifting for 4 weeks if your muscle has been repaired.
When is my first post-op visit? Usually 2-3 days after discharge if drains are used.

Is there pain? Expect moderate pain – will need painkillers for some days.

Is there swelling? Yes, especially first 3 days. It will often take a few months to fully disappear.

Is there bruising? Yes particularly in the flanks when liposuction is performed.

Are there stitches to be removed? Most of the stitches are dissolving. There are 2 stitches around the drains that need to be removed

Are there dressings? Yes, daily dry dressings.

How do I manage these? Leave them for 48 hours, keep them clean until your first post-op visit, then daily dry dressings with pads.

Are there drains?  Yes, 2 drains are used.  They are placed just below the abdominal incision line.  They are very easy to operate and you will be taught how to manage before you are discharged home.

Can I shower? Not until 24 hours after the drains are removed(typically day 3 following surgery), but you can sponge bath or use a hand held shower to avoid getting the incision wet for the first few days.

When can I see people without surgery being obvious: The next day when you get dressed and feel fairly comfortable.

When can I drive? Must be able to see clearly, be off strong pain killers and able to move comfortably, usually 5-10 days.

When can I go back to work? Office work: 7-14 days Heavy lifting jobs: 4 weeks or so.

When can I exercise? Begin introducing exercise lightly 4 weeks after surgery.

When can I resume heavy lifting, etc? 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Things I should phone about: Pain not controlled by the medication. Vomiting or unable to take plenty of fluids. Excessive oozing from the wound or dressings. Fever over 38 degrees. Difficulty breathing well.  Lower leg swelling or pain.  Progressive swelling or redness in the area of surgery.  Any other worries.

First Post-Op Visit

What will happen: Day 2-5.  Dressing removal, drain removal, wound inspection. Any questions will be answered. Be patient with the swelling – this is normal.

Sutures: Dissolving other than drain sutures.