An abdominoplasty ('tummy tuck') is an operation designed to remove excess skin and fat from this area, and tighten the underlying musculature, in order to improve the shape and contour of the abdomen. It is commonly performed in ladies who have excess skin after pregnancy, or in patients who have had significant weight loss and have extra skin in this area.
The incision is made in a gentle curve across the lower abdomen, just above the top of the pubic hairline. The abdominal skin and fat is separated from the underlying abdominal musculature, preserving the umbilicus (belly button). The abdominal muscles are then tightened and any excess skin and fat removed. The wound is closed with dissolving sutures, leaving a scar which can be concealed by bikini style underwear. Sometimes a smaller version of this procedure is more appropriate and this can be done with less scarring. Sometimes liposuction is performed at the same time to enhance the result. The abdominoplasty procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and usually requires a 2-3 day stay in hospital.
Abdominoplasty is a commonly performed cosmetic procedure with high patient satisfaction and low complication rates. Your procedure will be partially rebatable with all leading private health funds for both men and women if you meet criteria determined by Medicare. It is important to obtain a referral from your family doctor to be eligible for this.
Am I suitable for an Abdominoplasty?
This procedure is not an effective means of weight loss, and provides the best results in patients who have slightly loose abdominal muscles, and an excess of abdominal skin, but are not overweight. Individual suitability is a matter for you to discuss with Dr Woods during your clinical consultation. During this consultation, Dr Woods will discuss with you the particular type of abdominoplasty operation that will best address your particular concerns.
What are the benefits of Abdominoplasty?
This surgery aims to improve the shape and contour of your abdomen. Most patients are delighted that they can wear clothes again that they have been too embarrassed to wear previously.
Where are the scars?
There is one long curved low abdominal scar, which passes across the abdomen and is positioned just above the pubic hairline, so is hidden under a standard bikini. There is usually also a smaller scar around the umbilicus (belly button), though this can be avoided in smaller procedures.
Is the procedure painful?
Most patients experience some discomfort following the procedure -this is well managed with pain relieving injections and tablets while in hospital. On discharge from hospital, pain can usually be managed with simple analgesics like paracetamol, though stronger agents can be provided if needed.
How long does it take to recover from surgery?
All patients will be required to wear a supportive corset for 6 weeks after the surgery. Most patients can return to light duties at work or home after 2 weeks. After this, a gradual increase in exercise and mobility is recommended. You will need to refrain from sport, heavy lifting and vigorous exercise for 6 weeks following the procedure for the best results.
When will I notice the results and how long will they last?
Immediately after the surgery, the improvement in abdominal contour will be noticeable. A full appreciation of the changes requires swelling and bruising due to the procedure to settle and for the normal scar maturation process to occur. The final result can usually be judged at 9-12 months following surgery. This procedure creates long lasting improvements in abdominal appearance.
Will I be told the risks and complications?
All operations have a risk of complications, however major complications are rare after an abdominoplasty. During your initial consultation, Dr Woods will have a thorough discussion with you about the risks and complications of surgery. Fortunately with careful selection of the correct procedure for the specific patient's concerns, risks can be kept to a minimum. You can be reassured that Dr Woods will only recommend surgery if he feels that the benefits of the procedure substantially outweigh the risks.
Important Note when Choosing Your Surgeon
In Australia, just about anyone with a standard medical degree is allowed to perform cosmetic surgery. In fact, currently there is no legislation to stop any doctor from calling themselves a 'surgeon', even without formal surgical training.
Your only safeguard is to look for the letters FRACS under a doctor's name and check that they are affiliated with the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), as only fully qualified plastic surgeons have these titles and memberships. They confirm that your doctor has completed many years (at least 10 years) of training and examinations in surgery -far beyond the medical school period.