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An abdominoplasty is surgery to remove fat and skin from your abdomen. This surgery is also called a tummy tuck.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Medicine:
    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Blood thinners may be given before, during, and after a surgery or procedure. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
  • Pre-op care: Your healthcare provider will make marks on your abdomen. These marks will guide your healthcare provider in making incisions (cuts). The marks also show your healthcare provider where extra fat and skin need to be removed. You will be taken to the room where your surgery will be done. Your arms may be placed on boards for support.
  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
  • You may need to wear inflatable boots after surgery. The boots have an air pump that tightens and loosens different areas of the boots. This device improves blood flow and helps prevent clots.
  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
  • A Foley catheter is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out.

During your surgery:

  • Your healthcare provider may cut from one side of your hip to the other on your lower abdomen. If you need to have other skin or fat removed, more cuts are made. Your healthcare provider may also make a cut from the bottom of your chest to your lower abdomen. Through these cuts, your healthcare provider removes extra fat and skin. Your healthcare provider may also use liposuction to remove extra fat. Your healthcare provider tightens your abdomen muscles.
  • If you have a hernia, then your healthcare provider repairs it before he does your abdominoplasty. During the surgery, your healthcare provider may bend the table to decrease pressure on your abdomen muscles. Your healthcare provider may make a small cut to change the shape of your bellybutton. He then uses stitches to close it until it is in the shape of a belly button. Your healthcare provider puts thin rubber tubes (drains) in your cut to help remove extra fluid. Your healthcare provider closes your cut using stitches or staples. A bandage is used to cover your stitches or staples. This bandage keeps the area clean and dry to help prevent infection.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. You will need to wear a support garment, which is a tight piece of clothing wrapped around your abdomen. Pressure garments help support your abdomen after your muscles have been cut. Your healthcare provider may ask you to keep your knees slightly bent. When your healthcare provider sees that you are ready, you will be allowed to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken to your hospital room. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is OK.

  • Activity: You may need to walk around the same day of surgery, or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your caregiver says you can. Talk to caregivers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call light button to let caregivers know you need help.
  • You will be able to drink liquids and eat certain foods once your stomach function returns after surgery. You may be given ice chips at first. Then you will get liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then be given soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods.
  • Medicines: You may be given the following medicines:
    • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting.
    • Clot busters: This medicine helps break apart clots. It is given IV and may be given at the same time as other blood thinners. This medicine could save your life because blood clots in the heart, lungs or brain can kill you. Be careful because you may bleed or bruise easily.
    • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
      • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
      • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.
    • Patient controlled analgesia: You may get pain medicine through an IV or an epidural line attached to a patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pump. Caregivers set the pump to let you give yourself small amounts of pain medicine when you push a button. Your pump may also give you a constant amount of medicine, in addition to the medicine that you give yourself. Let caregivers know if your pain is still bad even with the pain medicine.
    • Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.


  • You may have an allergic response to anesthesia or other medicines used for your surgery. You may not be happy with the results of your abdominoplasty. Your abdomen may be uneven, and you may still have loose skin and fat. You may have small bulges of tissue on the sides of your abdomen. Your surgery area may become swollen, bruised, or painful. Your skin may get an infection, a rash, or large scars. The skin or nerves near your cuts may be damaged. You may need another surgery to fix some of these problems. You may bleed too much and need a blood transfusion.
  • You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. A blood clot in your brain can cause a stroke. These problems can be life-threatening. You have a higher risk for problems if you smoke, have diabetes (high blood sugar), or high blood pressure.
  • If you do not have surgery, you may continue to have loose skin and extra fat. You may have trouble washing areas under loose skin and you may get infections. It may be hard to fit into some clothing. Call your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about your surgery, medicine, or care.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.