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.

age plays a role in whether or not you are suitable for tummy tuck surgery

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.

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.


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Am I A Good Candidate?

You could be a good candidate for a tummy tuck if you have muscle weakness, excess skin on your abdomen, and excess fat that you would like removed.

Many of the patients deemed suitable for this surgery are women who have experienced one or more pregnancy. However, sagging skin and localised accumulation of fat around the stomach can also be due to the natural aging process as skin loses elasticity. If you have undergone a significant amount of weight loss, either naturally or through the assistance of bariatric surgery, you could also be left with excess skin that makes you an excellent candidate for tummy tuck surgery. As this sort of weight loss can also result in a build-up of fat hanging below the navel (pannus), patients experiencing this may also be suitable candidates for a circumferential tummy tuck or a panniculectomy.

You will need to be in good overall health with no underlying conditions to withstand this invasive procedure, as it involves general anaesthetic. In order to best determine if you are a suitable candidate for a tummy tuck, begin by having a consultation with your GP or surgeon and discuss your options.


The Procedure

A tummy tuck procedure will be carried out under general anaesthetic, and can take up to three hours to complete.

During this time, your surgeon will make the surgical incisions, which run from hip to hip and around the navel during a standard procedure. These incisions may vary depending on the type of abdominoplasty you are undergoing. The excess fat is then removed, and the skin is pulled tight and sutured closed to complete the procedure.

Preparing For Surgery And Recovery

Ahead of your tummy tuck, your surgeon will provide you pre-operative surgery instructions that will help you prepare for your operation.

If you smoke for example, the pack will outline information about stopping ahead of your procedure, as smoking can substantially impair the body’s ability to heal. Your surgeon could also recommend that you lose excess weight, meaning less fat will have to be removed during the surgery which can help speed up your recovery. If you take the contraceptive pill, you will be asked to stop four weeks before your operation to lessen the chances of a blood clot (thrombosis) occurring. You will need to fast ahead of your surgery, instructions for which will be provided in your pre-operative pack. Typically, fasting ahead of surgery means no eating or drinking for roughly six hours beforehand, but your surgeon and anaesthetist will outline specific advice for you. Make sure as part of your preparation that you ask any questions you may have, and that you feel completely comfortable signing the consent form.

Following the surgery, it is normal to experience some pain. You will be asked to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots in your legs, along with a compression garment around the wound to help with swelling. Pain can be managed with over-the-counter medicine as needed, and you will be advised to take it easy for the first couple of weeks after your surgery.


The Costs

The price of undergoing a tummy tuck can vary greatly, and will depend on whether you have a standard procedure, or a mini or extended surgery.

Generally speaking, a tummy tuck is not available on the NHS, but a small number of cases may be so under extenuating circumstances. As such, you will normally have to pay to have this cosmetic procedure carried out privately, which can cost around £7,000. To alleviate the price, many clinics will offer partial payment plans and financing options to help you spread the cost. Make sure to ask about this option when doing your research.

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