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Tummy Tuck Surgery : Overview, Steps & & Potential complications

Team AckoMay 27, 2024

Research highlights a concerning trend of abdominal obesity affecting 70% of Indian men and women, attributed to increasingly sedentary lifestyles. This alarming statistic underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyle habits. Addressing this issue is critical to mitigate the associated health risks and improve overall well-being within the population.  This article tells you all you need to know about belly fat and how a Tummy Tuck surgery might be helpful in some cases. Let’s dive in!





Types of the belly (abdominal) fat and associated health implications

There are two forms of abdominal fat.

Subcutaneous fat: The subcutaneous fat is located directly beneath the skin. Most subcutaneous adipose tissue is harmless.

Visceral fat: Visceral fat covers the organs like your kidneys, liver, and pancreas. It is a deep-seated fat and is harmful to the body. Studies reveal that greater levels of abdominal visceral fat are directly linked to the development of insulin resistance, high insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia), high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and early coronary artery disease (CAD).

It's natural to have some tummy fat. But having too much might be unhealthy and raise your chances of contracting several chronic illnesses. 

What is Tummy Tuck Surgery?

A Tummy Tuck, also known as “abdominoplasty”, is a surgical treatment used to alter the shape and appearance of the abdomen. Excess skin and fat are removed from the core during a stomach tuck. Sutures (stitches) are also used to tighten connective tissue in the gut (fascia).

Who needs Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Make sure you're a good candidate for the operation before deciding to have any plastic surgery. But how can you tell whether you're a strong contender? Let's see.

Obesity & BMI is one aspect that cosmetic surgeons consider. The BMI is a simple screening tool for classifying a person's weight from underweight to healthy, overweight, and obese. It is a ratio of your weight to height. If your BMI is between 30 and 40, a Tummy Tuck will likely produce considerably good results. When your BMI exceeds 40, you need to lose some weight before you are ready to undertake a Tummy Tuck.

Men and women desiring an aesthetic improvement of the body often consider a Tummy Tuck. Image makeover is a common reason for undertaking this surgery.

Suppose you have undergone pregnancy-related significant weight changes, C-sections and other previous abdominal operations. In that case, a Tummy Tuck can re-contour your abdomen structure by tightening weak fascia and removing loose, extra skin and fat. Stretch marks and excess skin in the lower abdomen below the belly button may also be removed during a Tummy Tuck.

Men are more likely than women to store visceral fat, so when belly fat increases, men are more likely to have an "apple-shaped" physique. 

While premenopausal women tend to have more subcutaneous belly fat, visceral fat tends to be more prevalent in postmenopausal women, which increases the risk of metabolic disorders.

Who should avoid a Tummy Tuck?

When considering a tummy tuck, certain factors should be taken into account to ensure optimal results and satisfaction. 

Pregnant women

If you're planning to conceive or are currently pregnant, it's advisable to postpone a tummy tuck. The surgical procedure involves tightening the vertical muscles, which can be compromised during future pregnancies, leading to the potential separation of these muscles. Waiting until you're finished having children can prevent the need for repeat surgeries to address muscle laxity.

Weight loss candidates

Individuals intending to lose a significant amount of weight should reconsider undergoing a tummy tuck. This cosmetic procedure is not a weight loss solution but rather a method to address excess skin and stubborn fat deposits in the abdominal area. It's essential to achieve a stable weight before pursuing surgery to ensure long-lasting results.

Scar considerations

Potential scarring is another crucial aspect to contemplate before undergoing a tummy tuck. While advancements in surgical techniques aim to minimise scarring, it's essential to discuss scar placement and length with your surgeon beforehand. Understanding the potential outcomes and being realistic about the appearance of scars can help manage expectations and ensure satisfaction with the results of the procedure.

Preparing for Tummy Tuck Surgery 

Before undergoing a tummy tuck, thorough preparation is essential to ensure a smooth procedure and optimal recovery. Choose a qualified surgeon and have a consultation to discuss your goals and options. Depending on your needs, you may opt for a complete abdominoplasty or a partial/minimal version. If you smoke, it's crucial to quit at least two weeks before and after the surgery. Smoking increases the risk of complications and hampers healing. 

Avoid drastic diet changes before the surgery. Certain medications may need to be stopped before and after the surgery. Ensure your home is ready for post-surgery comfort, including ice packs, loose clothing, petroleum jelly, and necessary bathroom aids. Arrange for transportation home and consider having someone stay with you for at least the first night, especially if you live alone.

Steps to a Tummy Tuck Procedure.

A plastic surgeon is the best person to guide you on the details of the procedure. However, here’s an overview. 

Most skin and fat between your belly button and pubic hair is removed during a standard Tummy Tuck.

Permanent sutures are then used to tighten the fascia, the connective tissue that covers the abdominal muscles.

The form and length of the incision will depend on how much extra skin is removed and the operation you undergo. Usually, the treatment takes two to three hours.

Your belly button and the abdominal incision will probably be covered with surgical dressing following a Tummy Tuck.

Most likely, you'll receive painkillers. Swelling in the surgery region is typical.

Self-care after a Tummy Tuck

Here are some basic self-care tips after a Tummy Tuck. 

Following your Tummy Tuck, you must wear an abdominal binder for around six weeks. This prevents fluid accumulation and offers abdominal support while you recover. Your doctor will explain how to take care of your scars.

After a belly tuck, you must use caution when moving about for the first six weeks. You will have to restrict strenuous activity during this period.

To protect the wound from reopening, you'll also need to avoid positions that tension the incision line, including swiftly bending at the waist.

You must stick to regular follow-up appointments.

Understanding Tummy Tuck recovery

After a tummy tuck procedure, most patients can expect to return home on the same day. While you may experience some discomfort and pain in the days following the surgery, your care team will provide prescribed pain medication to manage these symptoms effectively.

Rest and positioning

During the initial recovery period, it's essential to prioritise rest and relaxation. To alleviate pressure on the surgical wounds, lying with your legs and hips bent can be beneficial. Adequate rest allows your body to heal properly and facilitates a smoother recovery process.

Elastic support and swelling management

Your surgeon will assist you in fitting an elastic support garment around your midsection, similar to a girdle. This garment aids in managing swelling, which is a common postoperative occurrence. Swelling can persist for up to six months following the surgery, but the elastic support helps minimise discomfort and promotes optimal healing.

Drainage tubes and wound care

In some cases, drainage tubes may be inserted during the procedure to prevent fluid buildup around the surgical site. You'll be instructed on how to regularly empty these tubes and monitor the drainage output. Typically, the duration for which the drainage tubes remain in place ranges from a few days to several weeks, as determined by your surgeon.

Follow-up appointments

These appointments involve removing bandages, stitches, and drainage tubes as needed. Your surgeon will monitor your progress, address any concerns or complications, and provide guidance on further recovery steps.

Factors influencing recovery time

Recovery time can vary significantly based on individual factors such as age, overall health, and the specific type of tummy tuck procedure performed. While some patients may recover more quickly, others may require a longer recovery period to ensure optimal healing.

Returning to normal activities

Patients can expect to gradually resume their usual activities after approximately eight weeks. However, it's essential to follow your surgeon's recommendations and avoid strenuous activities or heavy lifting during the initial recovery phase to prevent complications and promote a successful outcome.

When to call the doctor?

If you experience complications after surgery, such as severe pain, excessive bleeding, swelling, or fluid or pus leaking from an incision site, it's crucial to contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms could indicate potential issues that require prompt medical attention to ensure proper treatment and a successful recovery. Waiting or ignoring these signs may lead to further complications, so it's essential to seek medical help as soon as possible.

Potential complications after a Tummy Tuck

There are dangers with every procedure. Complications after a Tummy Tuck may include infection, bleeding behind the skin flap, or blood clots (albeit they are uncommon). You might have scars (they usually fade with time). You could also feel numb, bruised, and exhausted in the days following the surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions on Tummy Tuck.


Who should not opt for a Tummy Tuck surgery?

Poor candidates for this surgery include those with severe cardiac illness, liver cirrhosis, and uncontrolled diabetes. Smoking has a negative impact on abdominoplasty surgery since the process needs a sufficient blood supply. Currently, many plastic surgeons view smoking as a contraindication to surgery.

Are Tummy Tucks and Liposuction the same?

A stomach tuck involves removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen, whereas Liposuction (also known as body contouring) involves suctioning out fat cells.

How much weight does a stomach tuck typically remove?

A stomach tuck may cause a three to four-pound weight decrease. If you choose a mini tuck, expect to lose about three pounds of extra skin and fat. Expect to lose about five pounds of excess skin and fat if you choose an extended tuck.

What happens to your waist size after a belly tuck?

While some patients may experience significant waist size reduction, others may experience more subtle changes. Everything is dependent on how much tissue can be safely removed.

How uncomfortable is a Tummy Tuck?

After a belly tuck, there will be some discomfort, with the biggest discomfort occurring during the first week. For the first few days to a week, pain is frequently rated at around 6 to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, then drops to about 3 to 4 in the second week. Of course, that would depend on the person.

When should a belly tuck not be performed?

If you have a BMI above 30, any prior surgical difficulties or clotting problems, plans for future pregnancy, or other comorbidities, a Tummy Tuck might not be suitable. Please discuss the same with your doctor.

Does a stomach tuck remove visceral fat?

With a stomach tuck, visceral abdominal fat cannot be eliminated. This is due to the fact that a stomach tuck only removes fat that is on top of or above the abdominal muscles. Therefore, if you're thinking about having surgery, discuss everything with your doctor.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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