Abdominoplasties (Tummy Tuck)

What is a tummy tuck?

The purpose of such intervention is to remove the most damaged skin (distended, scarred or stretch marks) and tighten the peripheral healthy skin.

  • Generally associated at the same time is the treatment of localized excess fat by liposuction and treatment of injuries of the underlying abdominal muscles (diastasis, hernia).
  • In cases where the skin is good, only a liposuction is necessary, possibly associated with the treatment of a muscular diastasis if it exists.
  • There are several types of abdominal deformities, caused by pregnancy, significant weight changes, or surgery such as C sections.

These distortions can affect different layers of the abdominal wall:

  • Skin: it can have stretch marks, unsightly scars, it can be loose.
  • Fat: it can accumulate in the lower abdomen and around the navel, and give an appearance of a little belly. It can be diffuse throughout the abdomen and on the hips, and thighs.
  • Abdominal muscles: they are frequently too wide and distended after pregnancy; there is no more solid abdominal wall to resist the pressure of the abdominal organs and the stomach takes a distended appearance, giving the impression of being constantly pregnant.


The consultation:

At the first consultation,

  • Your surgeon should be aware of your desires
  • and after you have been examined, the surgeon informs you of the different options to suit your case (type of abdominoplasty, scars, etc...).
  • Photographs will be made in order to follow the morphological evolution of your belly.

What happens during a tummy tuck?

  • Duration of the intervention: The intervention lasts 60 to 120 minutes.
  • Hospital stay: from 1 to 4 days. Hospitalization takes place the morning of surgery fasting.
  • Type of anesthesia: The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and requires a hospital stay of 1 to 2 days.
  • Preparation before surgery: Some drugs favoring the bleeding should not be taken during the 10 days preceding the intervention (aspirin, anti-inflammatory, anti-coagulants, etc...). Some drugs can be taken before surgery to reduce swelling and post-operative bruising.
  • A drainage by suction drains externalized at the pubic hair region reduces the risk of hematoma: these suction drains will be removed the day of release.
  • Frequently there is liposuction early in the intervention, especially for the hips.
  • However, if the patient being in the supine position on the operating table, it won’t be possible to remove all the fat in the hips.
  • It is even common after an abdominoplasty that hips appear more pronounced in contrast to the the belly that becomes very flat!


Following the intervention:

  • There are usually bruising (bruises) and edema (swelling) of the abdomen which disappear within a few weeks.
  • The procedure is not painful, except for treatment of diastasis of the rectus muscles.
  • There is always a transient decrease the sensitivity in the operated area, predominantly in the sub-umbilical region. Normal sensitivity reappears usually within 6 to 12 months. This return to normal is usually preceded by a period of hypersensitivity, especially to the touch.
  • There are no stitches or threads to remove because the sutures are made with absorbable thread, except at the navel (for peri-umbilical scar) where the thread is removed  after 15 days.
  • An elastic garment must be worn day and night for a month (a month and a half in case of diastasis).
  • During this period, any sport is prohibited, as well as carrying heavy loads.
  • Scar massage sessions with abdominal muscle rehabilitation in case of problem may be required a month after the intervention.
  • When the intervention is supported by health insurance, a medical leave of fifteen days is prescribed.
  • However, the resuming of work may occur earlier for trades that do not require physical effort.


What are the risks of a tummy tuck?

As with any surgery there are some risks,

  • Risk of hematoma or postoperative infections, although this is very rare, if it does occur, they require appropriate treatment (drainage, antibiotics ...)
  • Skin necrosis may rarely occur at the lower scar. It prolongs the healing time and leaves a large scar that can be removed secondarily.
  • This complication is greatly enhanced by smoking. Thus, it is recommended to stop smoking at least two months before surgery.
  • It is not uncommon to observe from the 8th postoperative day, the occurrence of an effusion related to a seroma. Such effusions sometimes needs to be punctured, and it usually heals without any particular sequela.
  • There is sometimes a little excess skin on both ends of the scars. This slight excess generally resolves in the months after surgery, especially with massages. If it does not, they are removed under local anesthesia without causing additional scarring.
  • Scars can be large or hypertrophic, unpredictably. They may sometimes require surgical correction when they are large or injections of corticosteroids when hypertrophic.
  • Exceptional risk of phlebitis (or pulmonary embolism) imposes postoperative preventive measures: anti-coagulants for days.
  • Regarding anesthesia, during the consultation, the anesthesiologist will inform the patient of the anesthetic risks.
  • You should know that anesthesia can cause unpredictable reactions, and more or less easy to control: the fact of using a fully qualified anesthesiologist, practicing in a surgical context that the risks have become almost statistically insignificant.
  • You should know, indeed, that the techniques, anesthetics and monitoring methods have improved immensely over the last twenty years, providing optimum safety, especially when the operation is performed outside of and emergency context and on a healthy person.

The scars following an abdominoplasty:

The location of scars depend on the type of abdominoplasty.

  • It will also be adapted to the line under regular clothing.
  • Schematically, the heals will be located just above the pubic symphisis, and will extend more or less far from either side in the folds of the groin. There is also most often a small scar around the belly button.
  • For individual abdominal liposuction, two small scars will be located 4 mm around pubic hair and another 4 mm in the navel.
  • The scars should not be exposed to sunlight for 6 months after surgery.


The results of a tummy tuck:

  • The final shape of the belly can only be judged after 6 months and the final appearance of scars after 12 months.
  • Beyond the aesthetic enhancement, abdominoplasty provide generally a considerable improvement as regards to comfort.
  • Furthermore, this improved function and psychological well-being help the patient in adjusting their weight balance.
  • The intervention does not prevent pregnancy (even if there was a cure of diastasis).
  • However, a pregnancy after abdominoplasty may damage the results of the intervention!
  • Final results are sustainable if there is no pregnancy after surgery, and the weight is (relatively) stable.

Information Sheet SoFCPRE (Société Française de Chirurgie Plastique Reconstructrice et Esthétique)

Last update of this page : 06-06-2019

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