Age Limits for Tummy Tuck Surgery

With cosmetic surgery becoming increasingly acceptable, many people are asking: is there a right time to consider surgery? In the case of a tummy tuck there are some guidelines to think about at both ends of the scale.

Lower limit

In the UK anyone over the age of 16 can consent to surgery but for a cosmetic procedure there are a number of important other factors at work. In all cases of surgery involving removing excess fat, such as the tummy tuck, the patient has to show that they have tried to lose weight through diet and exercise before they will be considered for surgery. An abdominoplasty is not in itself a weight loss surgery (although fat is often removed as well as skin). It is quite rare for someone as young as 16 or even 18 to have a tummy tuck unless they have lost a considerable amount of weight already and have a lot of loose skin.

Even if a young person has lost a lot of weight and wants a tummy tuck to remove excess skin alone, surgeons must be satisfied that their weight will stay more or less stable. If the person still has a lot of weight to lose, it is unlikely that a surgeon will agree to the procedure. The clinicians must also consider whether the person has reached full maturity in terms of growth as this will affect the long term outcome of the surgery in terms of aesthetic appearance.

Patients as young as 12 have been known to be given abdominoplasties in conjunction with weight loss procedures such as a gastric band, but this is definitely not the norm.

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Upper limit

There is no formal upper age limit for someone considering an abdominoplasty. General physical health and fitness may be more important than actual age, as this will determine how well a person tolerates the anaesthesia and how well they recover. For women, it is suggested that they do not have a tummy tuck until after they have had all their children, as pregnancy will \'undo\' a lot of the work that the surgery has done.

Skin elasticity does decrease with age so it is important that patients have a realistic expectation of their results after surgery. Consultations with the individual surgeon will be helpful in this respect. Patients may also have to undergo heart and lung function tests to determine their suitability for surgery. People in good physical condition though, can expect to get the best results out of their surgery, especially as they are more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle post-surgery than those who are not in good physical condition prior to surgery.