Abdominoplasty Sydney

An abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure aimed at removing excess skin and fat from the abdominal area. It can also include tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall to address changes resulting from pregnancy, significant weight loss, or ageing. During the procedure, excess skin and fat are removed from the abdomen. A full abdominoplasty usually includes muscle repair of the abdominal wall while a mini abdominoplasty only involves the removal of excess skin and fat.

The Australian Government has reinstated a Medicare Item Number for an 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?

Changes that occur during ageing and life events such as pregnancy and weight fluctuation may result in permanent changes to your body. Abdominal muscles may have stretched and weakened and an accumulation of fatty deposits and excess skin in the abdominal region may have occurred. These changes are completely normal, however, they do not respond to diet or exercise. In these cases, abdominoplasty can be an option.

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. 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.

Dr Turner performs abdominoplasty under general anaesthesia in an accredited hospital with the assistance of a qualified anaesthetist. The operation can take between 2 and 5 hours and patients are required to stay in the hospital overnight.

Generally, a horizontal incision is placed in the pubic region. The exact placement and incision length will vary depending on the amount of skin to be removed and your abdominal structure.

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. Any bruising or swelling will resolve by 6 weeks but can persist for several months. You can resume light activity 2-3 weeks following the procedure. Any heavy lifting and vigorous activity should be avoided for up to 8 weeks.

Depending on your condition and the preferences of the surgeon, a lipo-abdominoplasty, which is the act of performing liposuction prior to cutting the skin during an abdominoplasty, can also be performed.

Suitable Candidates for Abdominoplasty

An abdominoplasty is suitable for both women and men who are healthy, in good overall health, 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. Moreover, candidates for this procedure often aim to address excess skin and fat in the abdomen due to ageing, pregnancy, or significant weight loss.

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.

Abdominoplasty Techniques

The abdominoplasty technique used will vary depending on the patient’s anatomy and the surgeon’s preferences. Many different techniques are available and are based on how extensive liposuction is utilised and the length of the abdominal incision which is required.

Different Types of Abdominoplasty

1 – Mini Abdominoplasty – does not include muscle repair

A mini abdominoplasty targets predominantly the lower abdomen below the belly button (umbilicus). This is an option for patients with good skin quality on the majority of the abdomen however, are affected by excess fatty tissue and skin limited to the lower abdomen. During this procedure, Dr Turner performs liposuction to the remaining abdominal area.

2 – Full Abdominoplasty – includes muscle repair

A full abdominoplasty 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 abdominal skin area that is removed, the umbilicus or belly button is moved into a new position through a small opening.

3 – Extended Abdominoplasty – a longer incision to reach and reduce the sides & flanks

Extended abdominoplasty combines the techniques of a traditional abdominoplasty with additional contouring of the flanks or hips. The incisions are usually extended further around the body. This procedure also addresses excess skin and fat not only in the abdominal area but also in the lateral (flank) regions.

Recovery After Abdominoplasty Surgery

After the surgery, Dr Turner will place drains under the abdominal skin and apply a dressing as well as a surgical compression garment. Depending on how extensive the abdominoplasty surgery is, you may need to stay in the hospital for 1-2 nights. The drains may be removed before you go home from the hospital, or on 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. Bruising and swelling can persist for several months.

You will be given a prescription for pain medications 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 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 to high-intensity cardiovascular exercises for 6 weeks
  • 3 months before abdominal core exercises (sit-ups) can be resumed
  • 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.

Risks and Complications Associated with Abdominoplasty Surgery

As with any surgery, abdominoplasty has risks and complications, such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Seroma
  • Haematoma
  • Scarring
  • Changes in sensation
  • Skin discolouration
  • Asymmetry
  • Necrosis
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary complications
  • Anaesthesia risks
  • Persistent swelling
  • Need for revision surgery