Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck, is a procedure designed to remove the excess sagging skin and fat which accumulates in many of the women following child birth and lack of activity. This infra-umbilical portion of the skin has multiple stretch marks and hangs in front of the groin and causes hygiene problems apart from other things.

This acts like a vicious cycle, in the sense that when this happens, women tend to move around less, which further aggravates the problem. Apart from it causing problems in ambulation and looking cosmetically unacceptable, it can cause back pain because of the change in posture, fungal infection in the folds of skin and serious infections if the patient is immunocompromised and also breathing problems when the patient lies down (Pickwickian Syndrome).

This operation is helpful for women with lax and loose abdominal skin after having children or losing excessive amounts of weight. Sometimes this procedure may have to be combined with liposuction.

The procedure is done under general anaesthesia or spinal anaesthesia. Apart from removing the excess skin and fat, many a times tightening of the abdominal muscles may also be done if required. In this procedure the whole of the abdominal skin is raised like an apron and brought down and stitched at the groin crease. The excess skin and fat is excised. The umbilicus is usually repositioned at a higher level. No where in the procedure is the abdominal cavity proper entered.

Post operatively the patient has little pain for the first post operative day, which is usually reduced by using painkillers. The next day, they can be ambulated, but have to move around a little bent over for the first day or two, until they feel adjusted to the new tightness around their tummy. By the end of the first week, most of the patients are up and about doing routine activities, though strenuous activity may have to wait for a few weeks.

The procedure is well tolerated by almost all of the patients. The main area of concern is the scar. The scar is a long scar, from one hip bone to the other going along the groin crease. But it can’t be avoided and is usually a hidden scar, covered by the undergarments. Over a period of time the scars mature and become less conspicuous.

For a few weeks there might be a strange numb feeling in the lower abdomen, which is because of the cutaneous nerves supplying that area of skin, that are stretched during the procedure. As they start recovering, there maybe the sensation of tingling and mild irritation in the area for a few weeks. These usually settle down without any treatment. The patient is required to wear an abdominal corset for support, for the next three to six weeks.

Mini abdominoplasty is an abbreviated version of the formal tummy tuck, in which only little areas in the abdomen below the umbilicus, which has the stretch marks and loose skin is removed and sutured. This is usually suited for patients of younger age group.