What to expect when you have a tummy tuck

There are many reasons why a woman might decide to have a tummy tuck, for example rapid weight loss or ageing. Multiple pregnancies are one of the biggest reasons for having the procedure, as women can be left with unwanted excess skin and damaged muscles. Post-pregnancy, new mums often want to regain a flat, toned tummy and if they fail to lose weight naturally, they will turn to surgery.

If you're considering having a tummy tuck the important thing to remember is that this is a kind of invasive surgery and not a decision to be rushed into. It also requires several weeks for you to recover after it. You should talk to your GP and discuss what you hope to gain from the operation. Consider what you want to change and if surgery is really the best option to help you achieve this change.

Consult With A Qualified Surgeon

Before deciding to have the operation, organise a consultation with a qualified surgeon. They can answer any questions you have about the surgery and help you decide if a tummy tuck is right for you. Research is very important – read as much as you can about the procedure. You also need to research the surgeon you are considering for the operation. Your chosen surgeon will advise you to how to prepare for your surgery, for example you may have to lose weight, stop smoking (smoking increases the risk of infection) and stop taking the contraceptive pill, as this can cause blood clots.

How Long Is The Operation?

You will also be asked to fast before your operation, how long depends on what your surgeon decides but it's normally around six hours. The length of your operation depends on which type of surgery you choose. A mini tummy tuck takes one to two hours. Your surgeon will recommend this option if you have a small amount of excess skin to remove from the lower abdomen. With this operation muscle repair is not necessary, which means the navel will not be repositioned.

If you have a larger amount of excess skin and fat to remove, your surgeon will probably recommend a full tummy tuck. This complex operation can take up to three hours and you will need to stay in hospital for one or two nights afterwards. During a full tummy tuck, the muscles are pulled tighter, the navel is removed and - once the unwanted skin and fat has been removed - a new one is created.

What Happens After Surgery?

After the surgery, you will be given compression garments to wear – this will lower the chance of blood clots forming in your veins. As the procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia, you won't be able to drive, operate machinery, sign any legal documents or consume alcohol for 24 hours. You will have to rest for 7-14 days after the operation and it will be six weeks before you can go back to carrying out your day-to-day activities as normal.

Other side effects can include bruising, scarring, pain and swelling, plus there can be complications such as infection, numbness, bleeding under the skin, seroma and blood clotting. Having a tummy tuck is not decision to be taken lightly, so if you are thinking about undergoing this procedure make sure you do your research and take time to reflect on your decision.

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