Side effects to expect after a tummy tuck

Side effects to expect after a tummy tuck

15th Feb 2018

The aesthetic appearance of our bodies is strongly influenced by our perception of others. Famous people such as celebrities or models also have an impact on how we see beauty in us and in others.

When considering the general aspect of the body, the abdomen plays an important role. Factors such as aging, an unhealthy lifestyle, and multiple pregnancies can affect the appearance of the abdomen.

Abdominoplasty can be an efficient solution only if there is a strong medical recommendation behind it. To know if you are eligible to undergo a tummy tuck, you need to consult with a plastic surgeon. Aside from discussing your medical history and your expectations, the surgeon will also tell you about the side effects to expect after a tummy tuck. You can only be a good candidate for the surgery if you can understand and accept the side effects of the procedure.

An abdominoplasty entails the following:

– General anesthesia;

– A technique to restore the muscular tension on the midline;

– A technique to restore the muscular tonus on the abdominal wall;

– The remodeling and suture of the abdominal fascia (to strengthen the abdominal wall);

– The re-centering of the navel;

– Precise re-contouring with liposuction to make the fat transition area indistinguishable and to eliminate fat tissue on the flanks.

The tummy tuck can take between two and five hours for a full abdominoplasty. A mini tummy tuck will take no more than one or two hours.

When correcting diastasis recti, the plastic surgeon will tighten the loose muscles of the abdominal wall. The conjunctive tissue is pulled towards the median line and sutured to reduce the ptosis of the soft tissue on the tummy. The plastic surgeon will then excise the skin and fat tissue excess to create a flatter tummy.

Main stages of a tummy tuck:

1. An incision is performed between the hip bones and over the pubic line;

2. The navel is set free from the surrounding tissues by another incision;

3. The skin and fat is pulled towards the ribs to have access to the muscles that need to be strengthened;

4. The skin flap is reattached after the excision of the skin and fat tissue;

5. The navel is repositioned.

On the other hand, a partial tummy tuck includes involves just three steps:

1. The supra-pubic incision is usually 15 cm shorter compared to a complete tummy tuck;

2. Soft tissues between the supra-pubic area and the navel are excised;

3. Suturing of the skin edges after the skin is stretched and smooth.

Side effects

Some side effects to expect include a reddening of the scars, which will be visible for at least a few months. It can take up to nine months or a year for the incisions to heal completely and improve their color.

Drain tubes will be added during the procedure and must stay on for a few days to reduce the risk of fluid and blood accumulation at the incision site. However, there is still a possibility to develop seroma and hematoma afterwards.

Swelling, as well as bruising and discomfort (especially when restoring the abdominal wall) are also normal side effects of the procedure. The pain depends on the complexity of the intervention and can be alleviated with medication.

Side effects occur more often and are more severe for patients who smoke, have diabetes, or a weak immune system.

Other side effects include nausea, dizziness, throat inflammation, excessive tiredness, and headaches. Other risks that may develop are:

– Excessive bleeding;

– Blood clot formation;

– Wound infections;

– Delayed wound healing;

– Skin or fat tissue necrosis (especially on the upper part of the abdomen);

– Pulmonary embolism;

– A numbness of the abdomen and hips (due to nerve damage);

– Temporary loss of sensitivity on the lower part of the abdomen;

– Wound opening;

– Abdominal asymmetries (when extended tummy tucks are performed);

– Keloid scars.

Complications can also occur due to a strict diet or prolonged sun exposure of the operated area after the surgery. The healing process is shorter and the discomfort is significantly reduced if the body receives a nutritious diet, gets enough rest and physical exercise.

Factors that will influence the decision of the plastic surgeon regarding patient eligibility include:

– The general health condition and the age;

– The size and shape of the abdomen and general shape of the body;

– The localization of the adipose tissues on the tummy;

– The elasticity of the skin and its general condition;

– Other medical treatments that are administered to the patient before the surgery.

Preparing for the intervention

– Reduce alcohol intake and smoking for at least a month before the surgery. Smoking delays the healing process by interfering with blood circulation;

– Avoid anticoagulant medication such as aspirin or other anti-inflammatory pills;

– Clean the skin around the area of the incision with antibacterial soap to reduce the risk of developing infections;

– Don’t eat or drink anything for at least eight hours prior to surgery.


A tummy tuck is not recommended to be performed on:

– Women who want to get pregnant again;

– People who are following an ongoing weight loss program;

– Patients with unrealistic expectations;

– Patients who don’t want large, permanent scars;

– Patients who recently underwent other surgeries on the abdomen;

Patients who smoke excessively.

Benefits of abdominoplasty

– A flat and supple abdomen with an athletic contour, a well-defined profile and a narrower waist;

– The removal of the stretch marks on the lower abdomen;

– An increase in energy level and well-being, a boost of self-esteem due to achieving an improved aspect of the body;

– A more active social life;

– Improvement of life quality and even health;

– Increased mobility.


The adipose deposits on the abdomen can be determined by genetic or hormonal predispositions, as well as an unbalanced lifestyle and multiple pregnancies. Even people who are relatively thin can develop a protruding abdomen, especially on the lower part.

It is never recommended to try the tummy tuck surgery as the first solution to eliminate a large stomach. The tummy tuck is not a weight loss method, nor is it a treatment for obesity. However, the tummy tuck surgery can be successfully used to better define and perfect the appearance of the body after considerable weight loss. The intervention is especially useful for patients who are confronted with diastasis recti and skin excess as the result of one or multiple pregnancies.

A tummy tuck entails certain risks and complications, as well as normal side effects. These include hematoma and seroma (fluid and blood accumulation at the incision site), swelling and bruising, and an unpleasant appearance of the scar that can take up to nine months to improve. A certain numbness or a loss of sensitivity in the operated area are also normal side effects that can occur after a tummy tuck surgery.

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