When a person loses a lot of weight after bariatric surgery, dieting, or pregnancy, excess skin and fat develops in the abdomen. Abdominoplasty is a surgery to remove this excess skin and fat around the abdomen. The surgeon may also tighten the abdominal muscles or use liposuction to aid in the removal of excess fat and to smooth the areas of the abdominoplasty. This is often, but not always, considered a cosmetic procedure. Abdominoplasty is also commonly known as a tummy tuck.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.

  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.

  • Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.

  • Any bleeding problems you have.

  • Any surgeries you have had.

  • Any medical conditions you have.

  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Infection or wound opening at the surgery site.

  • Allergic reactions to medicines.

  • Damage to nearby structures or organs.

  • Fluid or blood buildup under the abdominal wound.

  • Changes in skin color.

  • Pain or numbness.

  • A blood clot that forms in a vein and travels to the heart or lungs.

What happens before the procedure?

When to stop eating and drinking

Clear liquid drinks, including water, tea, coffee, and juice.
Follow instructions from your health care provider about what you may eat and drink before your procedure. These may include:

  • 8 hours before your procedure

    • Stop eating most foods. Do not eat meat, fried foods, or fatty foods.

    • Eat only light foods, such as toast or crackers.

    • All liquids are okay except energy drinks and alcohol.

  • 6 hours before your procedure

    • Stop eating.

    • Drink only clear liquids, such as water, clear fruit juice, black coffee, plain tea, and sports drinks.

    • Do not drink energy drinks or alcohol.

  • 2 hours before your procedure

    • Stop drinking all liquids.

    • You may be allowed to take medicines with small sips of water.

If you do not follow your health care provider’s instructions, your procedure may be delayed or canceled.


Ask your health care provider about:

  • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.

  • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood. Do not take these medicines unless your health care provider tells you to take them.

  • Taking over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements.

General instructions

  • You may have exams or tests. These may include blood and urine tests.

  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco for at least 4 weeks before the procedure. These products include cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping devices, such as e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.

  • If you will be going home right after the procedure, plan to have a responsible adult:

    • Take you home from the hospital or clinic. You will not be allowed to drive.

    • Care for you for the time you are told.

  • Ask your health care provider:

    • How your surgery site will be marked.

    • What steps will be taken to help prevent infection. These steps may include:

      • Removing hair at the surgery site.

      • Washing skin with a germ-killing soap.

      • Taking antibiotic medicine.

What happens during the procedure?

  • An IV will be inserted into one of your veins.

  • You will be given one or more of the following:

    • A medicine to help you relax (sedative).

    • A medicine to numb the area (local anesthetic).

    • A medicine to make you fall asleep (general anesthetic).

  • An incision will be made along the lower part of your abdomen. This is the most common area for the first incision. The length of the incision depends on how much skin and fat will be removed.

  • Another incision may also be made around your belly button. This is done if your procedure will extend above your belly button.

  • A flap of your belly skin will be lifted away from the muscles of your abdomen by your surgeon.

  • You will be placed in a flexed position on the bed. Your surgeon will determine the final position and then mark the excess skin.

  • The marked excess skin and fat will be removed.

  • The muscles of your abdomen may be tightened with stitches (sutures).

  • The upper skin flap will be pulled down.

  • A new opening for your belly button may be made in the flap.

  • The incision will be closed with layers of sutures to strengthen the incision line and to avoid tension on the skin layer.

  • A tube may be inserted through the flap to drain excess fluid from your surgical area. This tube may be taped to your abdomen to hold it in place.

  • A bandage (dressing) will be placed over your incision or incisions.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored until you leave the hospital or clinic.

  • You may continue to receive fluids and medicines through the IV until you can eat and drink on your own.

  • You will be given pain medicine as needed.

  • You may have to wear compression stockings. These stockings help to prevent blood clots and reduce swelling in your legs.

  • If you were given a sedative during the procedure, it can affect you for several hours. Do not drive or operate machinery until your health care provider says that it is safe.


  • Abdominoplasty is an operation to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen.

  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about what you may eat and drink before your procedure.

  • There are a variety of ways to perform the surgery. Ask your surgeon to explain how it will be done.

  • After the procedure, your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored until you leave the hospital or clinic.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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