Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is cosmetic surgery to improve the shape of the tummy area (abdomen).

It can involve removing excess loose skin, fat and stretch marks and tightening the abdominal muscles.

The aim is to remove excess skin on the tummy that cannot be removed through exercise – for example, excess skin caused by pregnancy or losing a lot of weight.

It's not a quick fix for losing weight as the procedure is usually only recommended for people with a healthy body mass index (BMI).

An abdominoplasty is regarded as cosmetic surgery, so it is not usually available on the NHS.

If you're thinking of going ahead, make sure you're aware of the cost and the fact that it's major surgery, with risks to consider. Take time to reflect on your decision. It may help to read Is a cosmetic procedure right for me?

How much does it cost?

It can cost from about £5,000 to £10,000 to have an abdominoplasty in the UK, plus the cost of any consultations or follow-up care.

Where do I go?

If you're looking in England, check the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website for treatment centres that can perform abdominoplasty.

All independent clinics and hospitals that provide cosmetic surgery in England must be registered with the CQC, which publishes inspection reports and performance ratings to help people choose care.

You should also research the surgeon who is going to do your surgery. All doctors must, as a minimum, be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). Check the register to see the doctor's fitness to practise history.

You may also want to find out:

Read more about choosing who will do your cosmetic procedure.

What does it involve?

There are 2 types of abdominoplasty, and both are usually done under a general anaesthetic.

A partial abdominoplasty involves:

A full abdominoplasty involves:

The operation can take between 2 and 5 hours. Most people need to stay in hospital for a few nights.

You will probably be in some pain after you wake up from the general anaesthetic. Painkilling medicine can be provided if needed.

You will leave hospital with dressings and a pressure garment (corset) on your tummy, or tummy-control pants. Someone will need to drive you home and stay with you for the following 24 hours.


You will need to take about 4 to 6 weeks off work and exercise. You will not be able to drive for a few weeks after the operation (your surgeon and insurance company can advise you about this).

It takes about 6 weeks to fully recover and to see the full effect of a tummy tuck.

You'll usually need to wear a special type of corset or tummy-control pants for 6 weeks, to encourage your skin to heal properly and to reduce any swelling. Generally, you'll need to take it easy during this time and keep your knees bent while in bed, to avoid putting strain on your stitches.

After a few weeks you will probably be asked to attend a follow-up appointment to make sure the wound is healing properly.

After 6 weeks you will usually be able to stop wearing a corset and may return to doing most of your usually activities.

Side effects to expect

You will be left with a scar running across your lower tummy and, if you had a full abdominoplasty, a scar around your belly button.

It's also common after an abdominoplasty to:

What could go wrong

Abdominoplasty can occasionally result in:

Any type of operation also carries a small risk of:

The surgeon should explain how likely these risks and complications are, and how they would be treated if they happened.

Occasionally, people find the desired effect was not achieved and feel they need another operation.

What to do if you have problems

Cosmetic surgery can sometimes go wrong and the results may not be what you expected.

You should contact the clinic where the operation was done as soon as possible if you have severe pain or any unexpected symptoms.

If you have abdominoplasty and are not happy with the results, or you think the procedure was not done properly, you should take up the matter with the surgeon who treated you.

If you have concerns about your care, you should contact the CQC.

If necessary, you can raise a concern about a doctor to the GMC.

The Royal College of Surgeons has more information and advice about what to do if things go wrong with cosmetic surgery

Who should not have it?

Abdominoplasty is not a procedure for someone who is overweight. If you're overweight, read these tips to help you lose weight.

More information

Page last reviewed: 29 September 2023
Next review due: 29 September 2026