Abdominoplasty is a common procedure that is also know as a Tummy-Tuck. People from all walks of life seek this operation for a wide variety of reasons.
The ultimate aim, however, is to restore the contours of the waist for comfort, functionality and aesthetics.
Some of the most common reasons people present for an abdominoplasty include:
– scar tethering with overhang of abdominal skin eg. following caesarean section.
– weight loss with persistent redundant skin and subcutaneous fat.
– contouring and repair of abdominal musculature following pregnancy.
An abdominoplasty is not a weight loss operation and patients should be at their ideal weight prior to having the procedure. This is not to say that you need to starve yourself to be suitable. It is, however, important that you are at a healthy body weight for the purposes of healing and recovery from surgery as well as from the point of view of anaesthetic risk.
The operation is designed for people who need to have excess skin and fat removed from the lower abdomen with or without repair of the underlying abdominal wall muscles.
Smokers are not good candidates due to their higher risk of complications.
If it is safe for you to have a general anaesthetic for up to 3 hours and you fulfil the above criteria, you are likely to be a good candidate for the procedure.
An abdominoplasty is done under general anaesthetic in an accredited hospital facility. An incision is made low down on the abdomen, ideally below the level of most underwear, swimwear and clothing. Excess lower abdominal skin and fat along with stretch marks is removed. The belly button is preserved and relocated through the skin of the upper abdomen that is pulled down to conceal the scar as low as possible. Whilst the skin of the abdomen is open, the underlying rectus abdominis muscle can be seen and repaired. Permanent stitches hold the muscle together inside, whilst invisible dissolving stitches are used for all skin wounds. Patients generally stay in hospital for a couple of days and when comfortable can continue their recovery at home.
As with any surgical procedure, there is a great deal of information that you will need before making a decision to proceed with an abdominoplasty. Consultation with Specialist Plastic Surgeon Mr Mathew Lee will ensure that your individual needs and questions can be assessed and answered. Information on the procedure and associated costs will be provided on the day and you are encouraged to return for a second consultation before booking surgery.
Under some circumstances, a medicare item number may be applicable to this type of procedure. If this is the case, then private health insurance will cover some of the costs. There are, however, strict criteria that need to be met and generally these item numbers are only relevant to patients who have had and maintained a significant loss of weight be it through bariatric surgery or just change in lifestyle. Some patients with symptomatic abdominal muscle separation or abdominal wall hernia may also qualify for this type of procedure in the presence of appropriate medical imaging and GP advice to support the problem.
Recovery from surgery varies from person to person. In general, patients are in hospital for 2-3 days. We advise against driving and heavy exercise for a 6 week period and this can be further assessed and adjusted during follow-up visits. A compression garment is provided at the time of surgery to control swelling and to support the muscle repair. This will need to be worn for a period of 4-6 weeks subsequently. Follow-up visits are done on a weekly basis for dressing changed and monitoring of progress, scar management and advice will be given during this time. We will be with you through every step of your recovery to ensure you achieve the best result possible.