Abdominoplasty surgery or a tummy tuck is performed under general anaesthesia in a fully accredited hospital with the assistance of a qualified anaesthetist. Expect the operation to take between two and four hours, and you will be required to stay in hospital for around two days. There have been significant advances in abdominoplasty techniques over the past few years now making it safer with quicker recovery than ever before. The abdominoplasty technique used will vary depending on the patient’s anatomy and individual desires. Of the many techniques available to improve the abdominal contours, the techniques vary largely based on how extensive liposuction is utilized and the length of the abdominal incision which is required.
A mini tummy tuck targets predominantly the lower abdomen below the bell button (umbilicus). This is an excellent option for many patients with excellent skin quality to the majority of the abdomen however are affected with excess fatty tissue and loose overlying skin limited to the lower abdomen. The scar with a mini tummy tuck is only a few centimeters longer than a caesarian section scar and is always hidden within your bikini line. During a mini tummy tuck we frequently perform liposuction to the remaining abdominal area and repair any muscle separation if required to give an overall improvement to the whole abdomen.
A full tummy tuck targets both the lower and upper abdomen. During a full abdominoplasty the entire abdominal skin is redraped and the underlying abdominal muscles are tightened. Due to the amount of skin that is removed during a full tummy tuck the umbilicus is moved into a new position through a new often small opening. While the scar of a full tummy tuck is longer than a mini tummy tuck, the incision is still discrete and falls within your underwear garment line so once fully healed should be hidden with clothing on. Liposuction is combined with a full abdominoplasty to contour the abdomen and flank regions.
In many of our patients that seek a tummy tuck they are often have concerns with excess fatty tissue in surrounding areas, not just the abdomen and flanks. To give an ideal contour to the torso, it is often necessary to add liposuction to the adjacent regions like the lower back and hip / thigh regions to give that sought after hour glass figure and feminine lower back curve. As we are able to reshape the adjacent areas to the abdomen, we are able to be give a more defined and slimmer look to the abdomen and torso than we would be able to with a standard abdominoplasty only.
After your Abdominoplasty Surgery
At the completion of your surgery Dr Turner will place drains under abdominal skin, apply a specialized dressing to aid wound healing and a surgical compression garment. Depending on how extensive your abdominoplasty surgery was most patients stay in hospital for 1-2 days for a mini abdominoplasty and 2-3 days for a full abdominoplasty. The drains may be removed before you go home from the hospital, or at days 5-7 when you have your first follow up appointment with Dr Turner.
While you recover, you will remain a little ‘flexed’ at the waist and knees – this is the body’s way of increasing comfort levels while easing tension on your incision. The abdomen feels “tight” for several weeks after surgery. Numbness may be present around the incision and the belly button itself and in some cases may be permanent. The scar begins to fade after 6 months and may take 2 years to reach its final appearance. Bruising and swelling can persist for several months.
You will be given a prescription for pain management and antibiotics. Have someone fill the prescription, drive you home and take care of you as you recover during the first few days when you go home. You are able to take the garment off for short periods of time while at home and shower over the dressings.
You can return to your normal activities at a slow and gradual pace. While recovery time will vary from patient to patient, you should plan for the following:
• At least 2 weeks off work
• No driving for 2 weeks
• No moderate – high intensity cardiovascular exercises for 6 weeks
• 3 months before abdominal core exercises (sit-ups) can be resumed
You must have someone to help with the care of young children for at least the first 3 weeks postoperatively.
You will have an appointment to see Dr Turner within the first week after surgery to check that your wounds are healing as expected and to remove drains if required. Dr Turner will see you frequently over the first year to monitor your progress and will give you advice on scar management, wearing garments and resuming normal activities.
It is extremely important to your final result that you follow all post-operative instructions given to you by Dr Turner.
Risks Associated with Abdominoplasty Surgery
As with any surgery, it is important that you are fully informed of the potential risks associated with tummy tuck surgery. While all care is taken to minimize these complications, they may and do occur despite the best medical care.
It is important that you carefully read and understand the potential risks and they will be discussed in further detail when you have your consultation with Dr Turner.
General risks associated with surgery
• Postoperative infection
• Bleeding or haematoma
• Poor Scarring including keloid scars
• Blood clots in legs or lungs
• Revision surgery to correct or improve outcome
Specific risks associated with Abdominoplasty surgery
• Fluid accumulation or seroma formation
• Partial or total loss of the umbilicus
• Loss of sensation to the abdomen
• Wound breakdown and delayed healing
• Scar asymmetry
• Lumpiness or fat necrosis