Getting a flat stomach is a challenge. Diets, sports, aesthetic slimming treatments, and even liposuction are some of the best recipes to follow. But after having found your ideal weight, a surgical help may be necessary to get rid of stomach folds and other unsightly shapes. This is especially true after several pregnancies or massive weight loss. That’s when abdominoplasty comes into play. This important and costly surgical operation (between £4500 and £6000 in UK) is not necessarily refunded by the NHS, especially when it is considered as aesthetic by the Care quality Commission.
So to get back in shape and find their smile back, without spending too much money, many patients turn to Istanbul, the Mecca of belly dancing… As a major hub of medical tourism from Europe, the Middle East and North America, Turkey, and particularly its historical, cultural and business capital city Istanbul, enjoys an international reputation for the high level of its cosmetic and plastic surgeons, including for tummy tuck surgery.
What is an abdominoplasty?
Abdominoplasty, also known as tummy tuck or dermolipectomy, is a cosmetic surgery procedure used to remove excess skin fat, and to restore the abdominal wall, giving it a more youthful and firm appearance. It is a more invasive procedure than liposuction, a surgical procedure performed in a clinic or hospital, requiring general anesthesia.
Focusing on the part of the abdomen included between the upper abdomen and the pubis, abdominoplasty consists of making a horizontal incision between the navel and the pubis, in order to remove excess skin and fat. The muscles of the abdominal wall are then reshaped and reconstructed, before sewing up the abdomen.
If the excess fat and/or skin is concentrated in the lower abdomen, a mini-abdominoplasty is sufficient. It includes liposuction of the abdomen, the back and flank fat, and then a skin lift between the pubic area and the navel, allowing the skin to be tightened.
The dermolipectomy, which consists of removing the excess skin, is then performed before the skin is “redraped”. This redraping, or tummy tuck, follows a new technique called “high tension” : less invasive, it better distributes the tensions of the epidermis, to relieve the tensions on the scar, which will then be thinner, hidden under the bikini line.
When the patient is older, and has extensive lesions on the skin of the abdomen, with significant distension, stretch marks that are too visible and a withered abdominal wall (diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscles, umbilical hernia) due to excess weight or several pregnancies, a complete abdominoplasty is performed.
This requires a longer abdominal incision between the two hips, as well as an belly button surgery, consisting of an umbilical incision for the transposition of the navel, and thus an additional scar around the navel.
The operation lasts between 2 and 5 hours, depending on the extent of the plastic surgery performed. The convalescence is relatively long and delicate (4 to 6 weeks), and the result is visible after a minimum of 3 to 6 months. As long as you do not experience weight fluctuations and keep your figure, an abdominoplasty is for life.
What is the difference between abdominoplasty and liposuction?
A liposuction of the abdomen is a less invasive method than abdominoplasty, to remove excess fat skin and shape back your silhouette. It can be concentrated on the abdominal zone, when the excess abdominal fat is limited, the patient is young and his skin and muscles remain firm. It can also be performed on the entire trunk, removing all the excess fatty tissue and reshaping a slimmer figure. This procedure is called 360 liposuction, or Lipo Vaser. Like abdominoplasty, liposuction is not a substitute for diet and/or regular physical activity.
Who is Abdominoplasty for?
After a certain age, several pregnancies, a fluctuating belly volume due to dieting, hereditary or hormonal overweight, the muscles and skin of the abdominal wall become irremediably slack. For women as well as for men, getting back in shape can be a necessity to regain self-esteem. Abdominoplasty is intended for patients who wish to eliminate their unsightly excess fatty tissue and skin that have resisted liposuction.
For some people suffering from obesity, and when the excess skin covers all or part of the pubis, an abdominoplasty may be covered by the National Health System. In this case, it is considered as a “comfort” operation, essentially for aesthetic purposes : it will not be reimbursed.
When can an abdominoplasty be performed?
For women, it is necessary to have given up childbearing, as the skin and muscles of the abdomen, once taut, cannot accommodate a new pregnancy. For young patients who are significantly overweight, an abdominoplasty will be the ultimate operation, after a diet, to erase the stigma of obesity, provided that they have completed their growth (20-25 years). If most patients undergoing abdominoplasty are between 45 and 65 years old, all have chosen abdominoplasty after having found their ideal weight, followed an adapted nutritional diet, and are practicing a regular physical activity.
However, there is an ideal season to undergo a tummy tuck : autumn. After the summer, you have found your perfect weight, your body is strong, and you are better prepared for the transformations to come. Above all, the scar from the operation fades after six months, you must wear a girdle during the first weeks, and you will have to wait 6 months to a year after the operation, to regain a perfect silhouette and a firm stomach. Thus, you will be ready to show off your new silhouette on the beach, without complexes, the following summer!
What are the risks of an abdominoplasty?
The decision to undergo plastic surgery is a very personal one, and it is up to you to know if the benefits of such a choice will satisfy you, with the potential risks of surgical complications that an abdominoplasty entails. You will sign a medical consent contract to fully understand the procedures and potential risks of surgery with general anesthesia. The interview with your surgeon is therefore imperative, as well as a knowledge of your medical history.
How is an abdominoplasty performed?
- Preparation : take a blood test, adjust any medical treatment, stop smoking, avoid taking aspirin and any anti-inflammatory or naturopathic treatment that may increase bleeding. It is usually necessary to stay overnight after the operation and to recover from the anesthesia. In the case of a medical trip, the stay in a private clinic, the appointments with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, are organized and assisted by an assistant-translator in your native language.
- The operation : Once the anesthesia is administered, the operation begins with a horizontal incision of the abdomen, between the pubis and the navel. The design and length of the incision depends on the amount of skin to be removed. Once the skin of the abdomen has been lifted, the repair of the abdominal muscles begins. In the case of a complete abdominoplasty, a second incision is made around the navel to remove the excess skin on the upper abdomen. The skin is then brought down and sewn to the lower abdomen part, and a hole is made to reposition the navel, which is sewn to the surface of the belly.
- Recovery : After a night in the hospital, it is necessary to rest for a few days. The bandages can be removed after a few days, and the stitches or threads can be removed after about ten days by your usual doctor. Fine drains, running along the surface of the abdomen, can be placed to evacuate postoperative fluids. They are fragile, but temporary (one to two weeks) and help the healing process. Painkillers may be prescribed, as well as healing creams and medication to reduce the risk of infection. The wearing of a corset to help support your new figure may be recommended. Regular follow-up with your surgeon will be organized.
Does abdominoplasty leave scars?
Even though abdominoplasty is an extremely successful plastic surgery procedure in terms of results, it will always leave a scar. It may fade with time. An experienced surgeon will leave a discreet scar at the bikini line, invisible under clothing, underwear and swimwear.
What are the results of an abdominoplasty? (before and after)
Patience is required after an abdominoplasty. The convalescence is long, with 2 to 3 weeks of rest and a gradual resumption of domestic and professional activities, and at least 3 months before resuming a gentle sports activity (yoga, swimming…). The results are only really visible after at least three to six months, or even a year to fully appreciate your new shape and your flat stomach. A healthy lifestyle and regular physical activity, avoiding weight gain, will allow you to keep the benefits of tummy tuck surgery ad-vitam eternam.
Why have an abdominoplasty in Turkey?
Except for a complete abdominoplasty, to remove an important excess of skin and adipose tissue that falls below the pubis, a cosmetic abdominoplasty will not be reimbursed by your health system. In the United Kingdom, a tummy tuck costs between £4,000 and £6,000, to which can be added the clinic fees. Medical tourism, in particular towards Turkey, becomes a perfect solution, with rates from 60 to 80% lower than in the UK. Surgeons from your country will obviously mention the risks (infection, poor healing, asymmetry…), but in the body contouring field, the aesthetic clinics in Istanbul, Turkey, are very well considered internationally, with ultramodern medical infrastructures, an excellent quality of services and hygiene, and very experienced plastic surgeons, trained in the best American or European plastic surgery practices, validated by the British Association of Plastic Surgery at the Royal college of surgeons.
What is the price of an abdominoplasty in Turkey?
A complete abdominoplasty performed in Turkey, in Istanbul by Body Expert’s partner clinics, costs between £1500/€1800 and £3500/€4000 all included, depending on the extent of the operation.