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Tired of your spare tyre? A tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) is a surgical procedure to tighten your abdominal muscles and remove excess skin and fat from your stomach. If diet and exercise just won’t bust that stubborn belly anymore, it’s a way to get you closer to the firm, flat tummy you used to love.
There was a time when all the girls had washboard stomachs and all the guys had six-packs… or at least that’s how we like to remember our teenage years anyway. Whether or not you ever were the stunner you remember, it’s a well-known fact that as you get older, genetics, too many kebabs, yo-yo dieting and the simple ravages of time can leave you with a combination of weakened abdominal muscles, stubborn fat deposits, stretch marks and excess skin. Women who’ve blessed the world with more than one tiny tot can find it particularly tough to get back their pre-baby bikini bodies and many opt for a tummy tuck.
The surgery itself is designed to minimise visible scarring while still giving the surgeon room to manoeuvre. Your surgeon will cut a curved line above your pubic area and around your belly button. From the curved incision the skin and fat are separated from the muscles. Your surgeon will then sew along the vertical line between your abdominal muscles to draw them more tightly together. The skin of your stomach is then pulled smoothly over your abs and any excess skin that overhangs is cut away and drainage tubes are inserted before you’re sewn up. If you have stretch marks on your lower stomach, these are often around the part of skin that is cut away so you could lose the tiger stripes too.
If you look pretty good from the waist up, some cosmetic clinics also offer a mini-tuck, which only treats the area below your belly button so there’s no need to cut around your belly button.
After the treatment your drainage tubes will stay in for two to three weeks and you’ll also have to wear a compression garment, which is a bit like your great-gran’s girdle. The bruising and swelling will go down within a few weeks and you’ll find it easier to stand fully upright again. You can go back to work when you feel ready, which is normally between one to three weeks, but you should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for six to eight weeks.
It’s important to have a tummy tuck at the right time and for the right reasons. If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight or had a child, you may have loose skin around your stomach, making you a prime candidate for the treatment. However, if you’ve a secret longing for another child it might be best to put the treatment off. Similarly, if you’ve lost a lot of weight but those cream cakes are still calling you, it’s important to make sure you can maintain the weight loss before undergoing a tummy tuck.
Tummy tucks are often teamed up with liposuction – particularly of your hips – to give a leaner, sleeker silhouette. It is also possible to have breast implants inserted from the incision in your stomach so that there’s no scarring around your boobs.