Abdominoplasty, also commonly referred to as ‘tummy tuck’ surgery, is a surgical procedure that aims to achieve a firm, flat abdomen with narrowing of the waist.
Effective tummy tuck surgery can help address loose, excess skin that many people have following significant weight loss, bariatric surgery, or pregnancy. Many patients find their excess skin to be unsightly or a cause of skin infection and irritation.
Following pregnancy, some women may find the separation of their abdominal muscles a cause of lower back discomfort and abdominal bulge, which the surgery can assist in addressing.
Tummy tuck surgery works by tightening the rectus abdominis, which you might know as your ‘six pack’ muscles. Liposuction is also often incorporated into a tummy tuck procedure to assist in creating more shapely hips, as well as a more aesthetic tummy area.
Tummy tuck surgery is a major procedure. It is very important that all patients have a thorough understanding of the risks involved in the surgery, as well as the post-operative care process and the physical and emotional changes they will experience.
When you meet with your surgeon, they will discuss with you your expectations of the procedure and the potential limitations to achieving your expectations. Every patient is different, which means that factors impacting surgery – such as skin quality, amount of excess skin, fat deposits, previous scarring and muscle separation – will differ from person to person, and will need to be discussed in depth during your appointment.
Abdominoplasty is most suitable when your weight has been stable for at least three months. Where patients have had previous abdominal surgery or are in consideration of other clinical issues, your surgeon will need to determine if you would benefit most from the full tummy tuck procedure or if a mini tummy tuck with liposuction would be more appropriate.
During your consultation, you will need to inform the surgeon of your full medical and surgical history including medications, allergies, mental health and smoking history. Each of these issues have the potential to impact your surgery, anaesthesic and post-operative care.
Mr Patrick Tansley or Dr Sugitha Seneviratne will provide a tailored costing of your procedure during your consultation. The Australian Medical Board’s guidelines for advertising regulated health services discourages plastic surgeons from advertising set prices for procedures. Due to these guidelines, we do not provide patients with cost-per-procedure information.
We are also happy to provide approximate costs for out-of-pocket expenses before your initial consultation. Please contact our office on 03 9088 5000, or submit an online enquiry to find out more.
There is a cost for an initial consultation at our Melbourne clinic, with the potential to receive a portion of this back via Medicare where eligible for rebate, provided you have a referral from your GP.
If you are eligible for surgery, your surgeon may ask you to adjust or cease some of your medication in the lead-up to the procedure or to undergo a series of diagnostic tests to assess your fitness for anaesthesia.
It is essential that smoking ceases six weeks prior to and after the surgery to minimise the risk of surgical wound complications and anaesthesia.
The pre-operative consultation is also a good time for you to ask the surgeon about any concerns you may have.
Abdominoplasty is performed under general anaesthesia in an accredited hospital by NorthEast Plastic Surgery’s highly trained and experienced surgeons. The extent of the scars and the amount of skin and tissue removed will be discussed with you before the surgery.
The incision is made in the bikini line, extending from hip to hip. The surgeon then repairs any gaps in the abdominal muscles through a series of sutures, and excess fat is removed.
Dissolving internal skin stiches are used to close the skin so there is no need for suture removal after surgery. Once the stiches are in place suction drains are used to drain excess tissue fluid and blood.
Following surgery a waterproof dressing and a compression garment is applied to minimise soft tissue swelling and to enable showering.
Depending on your clinical requirements you may be required to stay in hospital for two to three days following your surgery or the procedure can be performed as a day surgery.
The drainage tubes are removed in the days after surgery and you will be discharged with a compression garment that you must wear for four weeks after surgery.
It is very important that you take the prescribed pain medication and antibiotics as they will assist in minimising discomfort and potential wound complications.
You are also strongly encouraged to seek urgent medical attention if you have any concerns related to the surgery or experience excessive bleeding, pain uncontrolled by medication, redness of the abdominal area or a temperature over 38 degrees Celsius.
Swelling and bruising is normal after an abdominoplasty. Generally, these tend to increase in the first three to five days after surgery, and improve between five and 10 days later. It may take several months for all swelling to subside completely. Sensation of the abdominal skin may also be affected but typically returns to normal after a few months.
You can expect your wounds to heal within approximately three weeks. During this time, you should move with care to optimise wound healing.
Driving can be resumed three weeks after surgery and are able to walk comfortably, while strenuous exercise should not be resumed until six to eight weeks post-surgery. Many patients find they can return to work after approximately three weeks.
While the surgeons will make every effort to minimise the degree of scarring, scars will form around the umbilicus and bikini line. Scar formation varies from patient to patient. The surgeons will inform you of scar management strategies to assist in reducing the thickness of scarring and soft tissue swelling. You may not appreciate the full extent of the abdominoplasty for many months while there is still substantial soft tissue swelling of the area.
All surgeries carry some level of risk. While infrequent, it’s important that patients have a thorough understanding of the potential risks they may face, including:
Risks specific to abdominoplasty include swelling, redness and numbness of the skin. In many patients, these improve within 18 months to two years. Scar irregularities requiring revisional surgery are necessary for approximately 5 per cent of abdominoplasty patients.