NHS Tummy Tuck Criteria

Currently a Tummy Tuck is top of the most requested NHS cosmetic surgery list. However it is usually only available through the NHS in exceptional circumstances such as disease or serious disfigurement as it is classed as under "cosmetic" surgery and not "plastic" surgery.

Will The NHS Pay For My Tummy Tuck?

Plastic surgery is classed as surgery that is used to primarily repair tissue or skin and restore it's function to as close as it was before illness or injury. Cosmetic surgery however is classed as surgery that is used to primarily improve a patients physical appearance which, according to the NHS, is what Tummy Tucks usually fall under. However depending on your individual circumstances, it may be possible to have an abdominoplasty carried out on the NHS.

For many people, the costs of elective cosmetic surgery play a key role in the decision of whether or not to move ahead with it. Tummy tucks on the NHS can possibly be offered to anyone who has lost a large amount of weight resulting in a vast and uncomfortable amount of excessive skin in the abdominal region or is suffering from any disease which causes the muscles in the mid stomach region to separate. An abdominoplasty operation on the NHS will not usually be given in any other circumstances.

Tummy tuck

If you’re considering this procedure, you should start with making an appointment to discuss it with your GP. They will be able to assess your situation and provide you with some guidance as to whether or not it would be possible for you to receive the surgery with NHS funding.

Your doctor may then refer you to a consultant, who will liaise with one of the local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to determine if you qualify. Certain cosmetic surgeries can take place on the NHS if they serve a practical purpose and could alleviate patient suffering. Tummy tucks may be carried out under these circumstances if, for example, the surgery is required to rectify damage or loose skin that has developed as a result of a prior essential surgery.

While the procedure may be possible on the NHS, it’s important to note that there are often long waiting lists to contend with. For this reason, many patients consider availing of private medical care to complete the surgery sooner.

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Other Funding Options

Most health insurance companies also work to a similar criteria to that of the NHS when deciding on whether they pay for tummy tuck surgery or not. Due to the fact that they both use quite similar criteria to determine a patient’s eligibility then if the NHS refuse to fund your surgery then it is more than likely that the patients' insurance company will refuse as well.However, if you hold an extensive private medical insurance you may find that they will cover the costs in certain instances.

Private Treatment

If you are unable to wait for your procedure, or if you do not qualify to have it carried out on the NHS or through your health insurance provider, you may wish to opt for private treatment.

This is a common choice for many recipients of tummy tucks. When selecting your private healthcare provider, it’s important to do your due diligence to ensure you select an accredited, experienced surgeon to carry out your procedure.

Any private healthcare provider offering cosmetic surgeries such as a tummy tuck are legally obligated to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), an independent regulator of healthcare services in England. It’s wise to ask to see this credential, and to thoroughly research both the practice and surgeon who would be conducting your abdominoplasty, before going any further. You could also ask to see references and testimonials from past clients, and even contact them directly to discuss their experience before making your choice.

The average cost of an abdominoplasty carried out in a private clinic is around £6,000, according to figures from the NHS. This of course will vary depending on the private clinic you choose, and there may also be additional costs involved for things such as aftercare or emergency care. You may wish to discuss these ahead of agreeing to your procedure, and to enquire about any partial payment plans available to help manage the costs. For example many private hospitals offer their own funding options such as "Buy now Pay Later" schemes and offering 0% finance for cosmetic procedures. These options will however tend to come with a credit check, usually require an initial deposit and may cost more in the long term.

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What are the risks?

As is the case with any surgical procedure, a tummy tuck can pose certain risks. It is wise to research the potential risks involved, and to discuss these with your healthcare provider ahead of time to put your mind at ease. Although a common procedure, a tummy tuck is still an invasive surgery and so there can be a number of associated risks, such as:

  • Issues arising from anesthesia
  • Difficulty standing up straight/feeling of tightness when you move
  • Accumulation of fluid, known as Seroma
  • Infection of the surgical wound
  • Feeling of numbness in the weeks or months following the surgery
  • Skin discoloration

These are in addition to the risks you would associate with general surgery, such as infection, swelling and bruising, bleeding and general pain. This discomfort should ease as time passes, but if you are experiencing prolonged unpleasant side effects as a result of your surgery, return to your GP or surgeon as soon as possible to discuss treatment.

General risks of surgery

Before you elect to undergo cosmetic surgery, it’s important to be aware of the risks and complications that could arise.

Having the knowledge of potential risks will help you recognise abnormal symptoms/warning signs and act quickly. Some of these complications can include:

  • Infection

    This is a common risk associated with any type of surgery. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may be prescribed oral antibiotics, or have to receive them through an IV as an in-patient.

  • Excessive bleeding

    Issues of bleeding can be rectified as an outpatient if the source can be easily recognised and treated, but in serious cases, ongoing blood loss could warrant a transfusion.

  • Pain, swelling and discomfort

    It is not uncommon for patients who have recently undergone surgery to feel sore and unable to move properly for weeks, sometimes months following the procedure.

  • Scarring

    Scarring is to be expected when undergoing surgery, but it may be that additional incisions or follow-up procedures need to take place, which can result in more or different scarring than you were expecting.

  • If you notice anything that doesn’t feel right following your surgery, contact your healthcare provider to arrange an appointment so that you can quickly get back on the road to recovery.

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