How is the operation done?
This operation involves two elements.
Firstly, an incision is made across the abdomen from hip bone to hip bone
just at the level of the top of the pubic hairline. This incision is made
in a gently curved fashion and is designed to be hidden inside the line
of a bathing costume.
A second incision is made around the belly button, which remains attached
to the underlying muscles.
The skin is freed from the underlying muscles from the incision up to the
lower margin of the rib cage.
Once this dissection has been completed, the rectus abdominus muscles on
either side of the midline which have become separated from one another
during the pregnancies are stitched together in the midline to recreate
their strength in supporting the anterior abdominal wall.
After the muscle plication (as this manouevre is known medically), the abdominal
skin is stretched down so that the point which was originally just above
the belly button comes down to the level of the long incision. The excess
skin is removed and the wound is sutured, leaving the patient with a smoother,
tighter abdominal wall.
What sort of anaesthesia is used for this operation?
This operation is only carried out under general anaesthesia.
How long does the operation take?
On average, 2 - 2½ hours.
How painful is this operation?
The abdominoplasty is the most painful/uncomfortable of all the cosmetic
operations because of the work done on tightening the muscles. You will
feel tightness in your abdominal wall and will probably have to walk bent
over for the first few days after the op.
To reduce the pain after the operation, the wound is anaesthetised at the
end of the procedure with long acting local anaesthetic known as Macaine.
In addition, the patient is given whatever intramuscular analgesic is required
and anti-inflammatories are also used routinely.
Immediately after the operation, pillows placed under the knees to minimise
tension on the wound support the patient's legs.
The day after the operation, the patient is encouraged to get out of bed
and start walking around, at first in a bent over position until this is
no longer necessary due to a diminution in the discomfort.
How long will I have to remain in hospital?
Patients usually stay in hospital for two days after this operation. After
they have been discharged, they will stay at home for further five to seven
days taking things easy while being mobile around the house.
Will I be very bruised and swollen?
This is difficult to predict but bruising does not often accompany this
Some swelling is always present and will last for up to two or even three
weeks. For this reason it is recommended that the patient wear a support
panty or step-in to assist in providing comfort and support and to help
reduce the swelling as soon as possible.
How soon may I return to regular exercise?
You may be back to walking or cycling after ten days, but will not be able
to take part in anything more strenuous for at least six weeks after the
What complications might occur after this operation?
Apart from the rare possibility of complications associated with the anaesthetic,
the most significant possible complication is post-operative seroma formation.
This occurs as a result of significant weeping from the large raw area created
by the operation and occasionally necessitates aspiration or drawing off
of the excess fluid. It is a nuisance and uncomfortable but not a serious
How long will the operation last?
This operation is very long lasting and provided that the patient does not
put on enormous amounts of weight or have another baby, the effects of the
operation will last a lifetime.