An abdominoplasty is a surgical technique aimed at sculpting and refining your midsection. A full abdominoplasty usually includes muscle repair of the abdominal wall, while a mini abdominoplasty is skin-only.
During this procedure, the muscles of your abdominal wall are tightened to achieve a pre-pregnancy appearance, while surplus skin and fatty tissue are removed.
The Australian Government has reinstated a Medicare Item Number for a Abdominoplasty for some post-pregnancy patients with Diastasis Recti (Split Tummy Muscles) if you are eligible and meet the new criteria. This new Medicare item number -30175 – will be effective 1st July 2022.
Why have an Abdominoplasty?
Sometimes even with a rigorous diet and exercise regime, you cannot achieve the flat and sculpted abdominal contours that you desire. Changes that occur during ageing and life events such as pregnancy and weight fluctuation may result in permanent changes to your body that you aren’t comfortable with. Abdominal muscles may have stretched and weakened and an accumulation of fatty deposits and excess loose skin in the abdominal region may have occurred. These changes are completely normal, however, changes nonetheless which do not respond to diet or exercise. An Abdominoplasty can help.
What is an Abdominoplasty?
An Abdominoplasty is a procedure that aims to tighten the abdominal muscles and remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen, improve abdominal contour, tone, and function. The skin and muscles around your abdominal area may have been loosened over time by age, pregnancy, significant weight loss, prior surgery and hereditary factors.
An abdominoplasty is suitable for both women and men who are healthy, in good physical shape and have maintained a stable weight for at least 3 months prior to surgery- your BMI should be below 30 to be considered a suitable candidate.
Dr Turner performs abdominoplasty procedures under general anaesthesia in a fully accredited private hospital with the assistance of a qualified anaesthetist. The operation can take between 2 and 5 hours and patients are required to stay in hospital overnight.
Generally, a horizontal incision is placed in the pubic region, exact placement and incision length will vary depending on the amount of skin to be removed and your abdominal structure. The final scar is designed to fall discreetly within your underwear and swimsuit lines.
Drainage tubes are usually left in place for up to a week after surgery and you will need to wear a compression garment for 6 weeks post-surgery. Any bruising or swelling will resolve in the majority by 6 weeks but can persist for several months. Light activity can resume 2-3 weeks following the procedure, any heavy lifting and vigorous activity should be avoided for up to 8 weeks.
You may have also heard of Lipo-Abdominoplasty, which is the act of performing liposuction prior to cutting the skin during an abdominoplasty. Liposuction is required in almost all abdominoplasty cases due to its ability to refine and contour the abdomen and hips.
Benefits of an Abdominoplasty
An abdominoplasty procedure is best suited for women and men alike if you are healthy, in good physical shape and close to your ideal body weight. If painstaking dieting and regular exercising haven’t helped you flatten a bulging stomach, or tighten loss skin that is covered in stretch marks, surgery may help you reach your goals.”
• Remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen
• Strengthen underlying abdominal muscles
• Improve contours of the torso
• Reduce irritation, chafing and infections in the lower abdominal fold
• Increased weight loss after surgery, compared to bariatric surgery patients (1).
Am I Suitable For An Abdominoplasty?
The best candidates for a tummy tuck are those close to their ideal weight, in good health, non-smokers and whose abdomen causes health problems, interfere with routine activities, or make them feel self-conscious.
Please note: Dr Turner does not perform abdominoplasty surgery on current smokers or patients with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 – a healthy range is 20-25. It is important that all patients undergoing abdominoplasty cease smoking or nicotine intake (including patches/gums) for at least 6 weeks pre and 12 weeks post-surgery.
What is an Abdominoplasty?
Abdominoplasty surgery is performed under general anaesthesia in a fully accredited private 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 at least one night, maximum two nights. There have been significant advances in abdominoplasty techniques over the past few years, making it safer with a faster recovery than ever before. The abdominoplasty technique used will vary depending on the patient’s anatomy and individual desires.
Many different techniques are available to improve the abdominal contours, the techniques vary largely based on how extensive liposuction is utilised and the length of the abdominal incision which is required.
Different Types of Abdominoplasty
1 – Mini Abdominoplasty – usually not including muscle repair
A mini abdominoplasty targets predominantly the lower abdomen below the belly button (umbilicus). This is an excellent option for many patients with excellent skin quality on the majority of the abdomen however, are affected by excess fatty tissue and loose overlying skin limited to the lower abdomen.
The scar is only a few centimetres longer than a caesarean section scar and is always hidden within your bikini line. During this procedure Dr Turner frequently performs liposuction to the remaining abdominal area and repair any muscle separation if required to give an overall improvement to the whole abdomen.
2 – Full Abdominoplasty – including muscle repair
A full abdominoplasty targets both the lower and upper abdomen. During a full abdominoplasty the entire abdominal skin is re-draped and the underlying abdominal muscles are tightened. Due to the amount of abdominal area skin that is removed the umbilicus or belly button is moved into a new position through a new often small opening. Dr Turner can create his signature designer belly button for you.
3 – Extended Abdominoplasty – a longer incision to reach and reduce the sides & flanks
Many of our patients who seek an abdominoplasty often have concerns with excess fatty tissue in surrounding areas, not just the abdomen and flanks. Liposuction to the adjacent regions like the lower back and hip/thigh regions may also be recommended for best results.
As Dr Turner can reshape the adjacent areas to the abdomen, we are able to give a more defined and slimmer look to the torso than we would be able to with a standard abdominoplasty only.
Recovery After Abdominoplasty Surgery
At the completion of your surgery, Dr Turner will place drains under the abdominal skin, apply a specialised dressing to aid wound healing as well as a surgical compression garment. Depending on how extensive your abdominoplasty surgery is, most patients stay in hospital for 1-2 nights. 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 may take your 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 abdominoplasty surgery. While all care is taken to minimise 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.
For more information read the risks of surgery page.