The lock and glue tummy tuck® or lock and glue lipo-abdominoplasty® is an innovative approach to abdominal surgery that combines internal locking stitches and tissue glue – ‘lock and glue’. This avoids the use of drains (tubes left within the abdominal wound to drain excess blood and fluid). When combined with local anaesthetic blocks and Twilight Anaesthesia, tummy tuck surgery can be carried out as a day case.
Research shows that most elective surgery should be carried out as day cases. This encourages earlier mobilisation, reducing the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), as well as reducing the risk of hospital acquired infection.
The locking and liposuction are effective in creating a more athletic-looking abdomen with greater definitions and more predictable outcomes. By locking the tissue down, tension is taken off the bikini line scar which can be placed low without tension, ensuring the best aesthetic result.
At Kat & Co, we have performed circa 1300 Lock and Glue Lipoabdominoplasties® since 2010. Our patient testimonials and before and after photos speak for themselves, find examples on our website and youtube channel.
Miss Kerstin Oestreich – Consultant Plastic Surgeon
Miss Oestreich is a highly experienced plastic surgeon, specialising in a range of body and breast procedures including the lock and glue tummy tuck®. She has received extensive training in theatre under Mrs C Kat, the creator of the lock and glue lipoabdominoplasty®, and performs this procedure frequently at the clinic.
My experience performing the lock and glue lipo-abdominoplasty®
I have been a consultant plastic surgeon since 2007, performing abdominoplasties in the NHS and private sector ever since. Working alongside Mrs Kat to perform a lock and glue lipoabdominoplasty® enabled me to see all the specific tips and tricks you cannot read in a book! Since 2019, I have changed my technique to follow the lock and glue lipoabdominoplasty® with great success: the technique is safe, slick, and takes all the aspects of patient safety, cosmetic outcomes, optimal scarring, body contouring, and recovery into account.
My experience has been that the aesthetic result with the lock and glue technique is far better than after lipoabdominoplasty alone. Patients can be discharged on the same day safely, and they are more comfortable, as they do not need drains or an overnight stay in hospital.
As the procedure is done under an advanced anaesthetic technique called ‘twilight anaesthetic‘, which is a very deep sedation, combined with a bespoke infiltration with local anaesthetic, the recovery is much easier and gentler for the patient.
What is the difference between a standard abdominoplasty and the lock and glue technique?
A traditional abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is typically limited to removing (excising) excess skin and fat, and repairing the gap in the abdominal muscles (rectus diastasis). Most surgeons will offer a lipo-abdominoplasty, combining the excision of skin and fat with additional liposuction, but very few know the tips and tricks of the lock and glue lipoabdominoplasty®.
The excess skin and fat of the abdominal wall in the lower abdomen is removed leaving the umbilicus in place. The patient is left with a long, usually curved scar across the lower part of the abdominal wall at the level of the pubic hair. There is also a scar around the umbilicus. Any looseness of the muscles of the abdominal wall is repaired at the same time.
Lipo-abdominoplasty adds liposuction to the resection of the lower abdominal wall. This allows easier stretching of the abdominal wall without separating the skin from the underlying muscle. This preserves blood supply, reduces risk of skin necrosis and improves aesthetic results.
Lock and Glue Lipoabdominoplasty®
The lock and glue lipoabdominoplasty® is the latest development and further improvement for abdominoplasty surgery. This technique was created by Mrs CC Kat in 2010, and has gone on to receive multiple awards. The skin flap is not solely sutured back to the scar line, as in a traditional abdominoplasty, but is locked and glued down to the abdominal wall. This reduces the dead space where blood and body fluids can collect, removing the need for drains. The locking sutures also create better definitions, contouring the shape of the new tummy more reliably, while liposuction allows for shaping of the contour and curviness of the flanks and waist.
Skin markings for the lock and glue lipoabdominoplasty
What are the benefits of the lock and glue tummy tuck®?
A tummy tuck can be a life changing procedure, with many benefits including:
- Improved mobility by reducing the heavy lower abdomen and hips
- Surgery enables you to wear the clothes you want including bikinis with a low scar
- Abdominoplasty surgery can boost your self-esteem
- Helps to restore a youthful figure after pregnancy or significant weight loss
- Repairs abdominal muscles that can become separated during pregnancy creating a permanent bulge
Who is an ideal candidate?
Anyone who has excess abdominal skin and fat may be a candidate. With women, the problem is usually caused by pregnancy, but is greatly aggravated by weight loss. The muscles of the abdominal wall may be weakened by pregnancy and be pulled apart in the middle (divarication or diastasis of recti). Once the skin is lax and loose, and the abdominal muscles separate, exercise alone cannot make a change to these problems and surgery becomes a suitable option. Men are similarly affected by weight loss.
Stretch marks can also be revised in a tummy tuck procedure. Stretch marks (striae) are the scars which are left after extreme stretching of the skin. They are usually most apparent on the lower part of the abdominal wall. There is no specific treatment for these stretch marks, but many of them are excised in an abdominal reduction, and those that are left are tightened, making them look less obvious.
What are the consequences?
The patient is left with a permanent scar within the panty line (lower abdomen), and around the belly button. Some patients will scar better than others, and in all cases the scars are red initially. It is essential that the patient understands where these scars will be. It is possible to adjust the position of the scar to suit choice of swimwear; patients should discuss this with their surgeon.
Following surgery, there will be numbness in the lower part of the abdominal wall around the scar line.
Initial swelling above the scar is usually present due to a collection of tissue fluid which normally drains to the groin. This swelling or oedema settles within a few months, and can be reduced with regular lymphatic drainage massages as instructed by your surgeon.
What are the limitations?
The skin is usually tightened downwards, and does not typically tighten loose skin in the horizontal direction for weight loss patients. If this is desired, then one can consider removing the skin vertically. However, this will result in a more visible vertical scar (fleur-de-li lipoabdominoplasty)
The beneficial effects of the operation will last well. However, the results will be better maintained if the patient continues to exercise the abdominal muscles and maintains a steady weight. A further pregnancy will of course stretch the skin again, although typically not to the same degree.
Patients with a BMI above 25 will not achieve an optimal result as the skin flaps are thicker and there is more intra-abdominal or visceral fat. Patients with a BMI of more than 30 are generally advised against having surgery until they have lost some weight. We recommend a BMI below 27 to achieve the best possible aesthetic result, reduce risk of complications and allow an easier recovery.
Smoking is an absolute contraindication. We do require patients to stop smoking prior to their operation due to the adverse effects on wound healing.
What are the risks?
Healing can be slow, particularly in the tighter central part of the wound or the umbilicus, and sometimes dressings are needed for more than a few weeks. This is more common in patients who are overweight and who smoke. This tends to leave more obvious scars which are tethered.
Secondary procedures are sometimes necessary to tidy up the results.
Displacement of the umbilicus (belly button) to one side is rare.
Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus are rare complications but of higher risk in high BMI patients.
What do I need to do before the operation?
If your BMI is above 27, you will be advised to reduce your weight.
If you are taking the contraceptive pill or HRT, you should stop for four weeks before surgery.
You must stop smoking 4 weeks before and after surgery.
What should you expect at the time of the operation?
The procedure is normally carried out as a day case at the Kat & Co clinic. You can expect some moderate pain for which you will be given painkillers. You will be asked to keep your knees and hips bent to take the strain off your stitches.
Recovery after surgery
Light activities are recommended around 10-20 days after your procedure. Sports will not be possible for around 6 weeks, particularly when the muscles have been strengthened with sutures. A compression garment will be provided to reduce the swelling and improve comfort for the first month.