Commonly known as a tummy tuck, an abdominoplasty is an effective means of improving the appearance and function of the middle to lower abdomen. This procedure may be a suitable option for those who have unwanted fat and skin that persists despite diet and exercise, or to remove excess skin as a result of weight loss. In some instances, patients may be suitable for a partial abdominoplasty or mini lift, especially those whose area of concern is localised below the belly button.
During abdominoplasty your surgeon also repairs and tightens muscles that have separated (rectus divarication), which can sometimes occur post pregnancy or massive weight loss. If left untreated, abdominal muscle separation can lead to back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction and a noticeably protruding abdomen.
It is important to know this surgery has its limitations, and contrary to some beliefs, should not be relied on as a ‘quick fix’ or a weight-loss shortcut. If you are considering an abdominoplasty, ensure you are nearing the end of your weight loss journey and are not intending on losing a significant amount of weight in the near future. This procedure may be a suitable and successful option if:
- You have reached your goal weight
- You have maintained a stable, healthy weight
- You have realistic expectations and are not seeking a weight loss short cut
- You have excess skin as a result of significant weight loss that is causing discomfort
- You have muscle separation
- You are a non-smoker
Whatever stage in life you may be, one of our specialist plastic surgeons would be please to meet and discuss your overall health and areas of concern in a consultation. In doing so, they can tailor a treatment option based on your individual needs; whether that be taking the next step towards surgery, or to assist you in starting your weight-loss journey.
The Procedure + Surgical Techniques
The surgical techniques and locations of incisions will depend on your surgeon’s preferences and recommendations. An incision will be made just above the pubic region, generally stretching from hip to hip. If possible, your surgeon will keep this incision below the ‘bikini line’, so that the residual scar can be easily concealed. The skin and underlying fat are lifted free from the abdominal muscles, which may then be surgically tightened if you have experienced muscle separation. Excess abdominal skin and fat is excised, and the remaining skin is drawn downwards and the incision site is closed with sutures creating a flatter, firmer abdomen. Your surgeon will usually make another small incision to ensure your navel is repositioned.
For further information on the procedure, we highly recommend you watch the animated video on our website, which outlines abdominoplasty surgery in more detail.
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and can slightly vary your final outcome. These options will be discussed in your consultation, where your surgeon will recommend a technique best suited to your individual preferences
Hospital Stay and Anaesthesia
For reasons of patient safety, this procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic with an anaesthetist present. Surgery can take place as a day procedure but in some instances an over night stay is required. Your plastic surgeon will discuss your choices in your initial consultation and determine which option is best for you.
In order to keep your consultation as smooth and efficient as possible, we ask that you please bring all relevant documentation with you on the day. This includes your referral letter, Medicare card, private health insurance details, any third party or return to work insurance information, and any relevant scans i.e. x-ray or ultrasounds.
During your initial consultation with one of our specialist plastic surgeons, you will have an extended opportunity to discuss expectations and desired outcomes, along with any questions you may have about the procedure.
You will then meet with one of our experienced nurses, where you will have clinical images taken in our blue room as a before and after reference for both yourself and your surgeon (please note that all our images are confidential and are stored securely pursuant to the current Privacy Act). During this time, you will also be fitted with a compression garment to wear post operatively.
The final stage involves meeting with your surgeon’s personal assistant. You will be given an in-depth quote, outlining the surgeon, hospital and anaesthetist fees, along with some take home information about your procedure.
There is a lot of information to take in after your first consultation. We encourage our patients to go home and discuss their procedure with loved ones and come back for a second visit. We find our patients almost always come back with additional questions they hadn’t previously thought of, and this second visit allows you to go into your surgery feeling confident and fully informed.
We recommend that you allow an hour for this consultation. Please keep this in mind when organising parking so that you don’t feel the need to rush.
Before your procedure
There are a number of
things you can do before your procedure, to encourage a smooth recovery and
ensure you are as comfortable as possible post-surgery.
It is important that you:
- Exercise, having good physical health will significantly help your recovery process
- Reach and maintain your optimal weight (if previously discussed and agreed upon with your surgeon).
- Provide a complete medical history for your specialist plastic surgeon, including all current medications, as some may need to be stopped prior to surgery.
- Quit smoking
- Because you’re having general anaesthesia, it is important that you pre-arrange someone to transport you to and from your surgery, as well as stay with you 48 hours after returning home.
- Ensure you follow pre-operative instructions, such as fasting times, or your procedure may have to be cancelled.
- We recommend having plenty of loose comfortable clothing that is easy to get in and out of i.e. zip through jackets.
Prepare your recovery area! You’ll want to have everything you need to recover easily accessible and within arm’s reach. We suggest comfortable pillows, icepacks, prescribed medications, emergency contact details, a phone, as well as things to keep you entertained.
Recovery time is highly individual, however, we find many of our patients are able to return to work within two to four weeks after surgery. Vigorous activity and exercise should be avoided for the first six weeks, however, gentle walking is encouraged after two weeks. Your time frame will vary depending on your individual surgery details, the nature of your employment and your overall level of health. Your surgeon will discuss this with you prior to surgery, and it is important to allow yourself the recommended recovery time.
On discharge, you will be given specific postoperative instructions to assist your recovery, and a follow-up appointment will be made with your plastic surgeon. These instructions will cover everything you need to know in order to make your recovery as smooth and comfortable as possible.
Post surgery it is normal to experience pain and discomfort, and your surgeon may prescribe some pain relief. A plastic tube may be inserted to drain off the excess fluid. This will remain in place until the drainage is minimal and is removed by the nurse, usually a day or two after your surgery. It is important that you do not have a shower until your drains have been removed.
If previously indicated by your surgeon, you may be recommended to wear a pressure garment post procedure for up to six weeks. This will assist in reducing swelling and bruising, and providing you with some support. It is normal for bruising to last up to three weeks, and can swelling may last for up to eight.
Our team is here to support you to make a swift, uncomplicated recovery. We offer a 24/7 on-call medical assistance service for all our post-operative patients.
Ready to book an initial consultation?
If you are ready to book your initial consultation, please book online or call us to book with one of our helpful team members. We’ll be pleased to help you start your journey.
Not quite ready or have a question to ask?
Stay up to date
News – March 23, 2023
Will my surgery leave me with a scar?
Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Anthony Porter and Jo Herreen RN discuss everything you need to know about post surgical scarring in our latest blog post. Read it now