Abdominoplasty or a “tummy tuck” is plastic surgery procedure that removes loose skin and excessive fat from the abdomen and tightens the abdominal muscles for improved contour, tone and function. This surgery also allows for repair for the abdominal muscles that may have stretched during pregnancy that may have lead to lower abdominal bulging. The result is a firmer, flatter and more youthful looking abdomen.
A tummy tuck is beneficial for those who have:
- A protruding abdomen from stretched muscles and skin.
- Loose, sagging abdominal skin that may hang over previous abdominal scars, such as caesarian section or appendix scars
- Abdominal muscles weakened by pregnancy or ageing, which has caused muscle separation and a “gap”
- Excess fat in the abdominal area that won’t budge with diet and exercise.
- Are at their ideal weight and have a healthy lifestyle.
There are different types of tummy tuck techniques due to variability in degree of muscle weakness, skin stretch and overall contour problem:
Standard (Full) Tummy Tuck
Standard abdominoplasty is the most common form of abdominoplasty. In the full abdominoplasty, the scar is carefully positioned below the bikini line and, although long, allows for the maximum improvement in the abdominal shape and strength and usually heals extremely well with time. In the standard abdominoplasty, the belly button is cut around and freed from the skin, which is pulled down to allow maximal removal. This procedure allows for the abdominal muscles to be tightened full length, from pubic bone to breastbone. Finally, the bellybutton is brought out through a new hole at the end of the procedure.
Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Steve Merten utilises the most modern techniques for abdominoplasty, to maximise the quality of your final outcome, and make your recovery as comfortable as possible. Dr Merten does not routinely use drains for abdominoplasty, which is one of the most significant concerns for most patients.
Standard abdominoplasty gives a more widespread contour improvement to the abdominal region, and it is the typical technique if you require improvement of larger amounts of skin, fat and muscles as can be seen in multiple pregnancies, or following dramatic weight loss.
“Mini” Tummy Tuck
Mini-abdominoplasty is helpful if you have a small amount of skin looseness, and that skin is mostly restricted to the lower abdomen below the bellybutton. It is best if there is less need for major muscle tightening.
The scar is kept short above the pubic area, and is shorter than the full or standard abdominoplasty. Loose fat and skin are removed from the area above the pubis, and some additional liposuction is often also done to improve the overall shape.
In mini-abdominoplasty, the belly button is not moved, and little work is done above the level of the bellybutton. Unlike the full abdominoplasty, with a mini-tummy tuck there is no scar around the bellybutton. Since there is less muscle tightening, recovery is usually quicker and the scar shorter. Dr Merten does not use drains for his tummy tucks, including mini-abdominoplasty.
“Fleur-De-Lis” and Reverse Abdominoplasty
For more extreme skin excess, there are a range of variants of abdominoplasty performed. A “reverse” tummy tuck is for excess skin and fat in the upper abdomen, usually as a result from massive weight loss. In this surgery, the incision is made under the breast and excess skin is pulled form the bottom up, not top down.
If there is extreme excess skin, a incision that runs top to bottom, rather than side to side, may also be required. This is know as the “fleur-de-lis” technique.
How Much Does A Tummy Tuck Cost?
***Please note, recent medicare changes will affect the costs associated with Abdominoplasty and other Body Contouring procedures. Please read about these changes and how it will affect you.
As of 1 January 2016, Medicare Australia has removed access for women to have abdominoplasties covered by Medicare for post-pregnancy muscle separation and skin damage. This means abdominoplasty is now considered a fully “cosmetic” procedure, and there is no Medicare rebate nor health insurance cover for this surgery.
In certain extreme weight loss circumstances, Medicare rebates and health insurance cover may apply.
For more information and an accurate price, please contact us to schedule your consultation.
How can this procedure help me?
Abdominoplasty or a “tummy tuck” is plastic surgery procedure that removes loose skin and excess fat from the abdomen and tightens the abdominal muscles for improved contour, tone and function. Studies have shown a significant benefit in strength, reduced back pain, better bladder control and improved confidence following abdominoplasty.
Isn’t Liposuction simpler?
Loose skin is not corrected by liposuction, and can be made worse. Similarly the abdominal muscles are not modified. Liposuction removes fat only and skin may not retract back well, leading to substantial loose skin. Although liposuction may be done as part of your abdominoplasty, it has distinctly different purposes and goals.
The Consultation Process: What to Expect
During the consultation, Dr. Merten will ask you a variety of questions covering everything from your current health situation to details about the physical outcomes you desire. Be prepared to talk about current medications, allergies and any past or current medical treatments.
Abdominoplasty requires a thorough examination of the muscles, fat and skin of your abdomen and how it relates to your overall body size and shape. In your consultation, Dr. Merten will discuss your goals for the surgery focusing on how to achieve maximum improvement in the most natural-looking manner.
Based on your history and examination, your best options for abdominiplasty are determined. Photographs of your trunk and abdomen will be taken to allow for planning of the surgery and to assess results following your surgery. These will be kept strictly confidential between Dr. Merten and his staff.
You will also discuss the recovery process and any potential complications that could arise. At any time, you are encouraged to ask any questions that you may have.
Your second consultation will further deal with your operation choices and reiterate the possible problems and complications with reference to your specific case.
Can I combine a Tummy Tuck with other Procedures?
Absolutely. Many of our patients look at a comprehensive “mummy makeover” and combine abdominoplasty with other procedures. This means less overall expense, less time in hospital and less time recovering than from separate operations. Liposuction is often combined with tummy tuck, to help refine the contour of the stomach, flanks and other area.
Abdominoplasty is also often combined with other body contouring surgeries, such as breast surgeries, including breast augmentation/enlargement, breast lift and breast reduction, for a complete “mummy makeover” or lifts.
By combining one or more procedures, you may achieve a more dramatic and enhanced overall outcome.
When should I consider a tummy tuck?
If you are female, it is best to wait to have a tummy tuck until you have finished having children, so your abdominal muscles aren’t further stretched by pregnancy.
After major weight loss, a tummy tuck is advised when you are close to your ideal weight and your health and nutrition are normal.
A tummy tuck is not to correct major weight problems and should only be considered if you have realistic expectations of the results that can be achieved.
The Procedure: What Does it Involve?
Abdominoplasty is performed under general anaesthetic in fully accredited hospitals. Dr Merten always aims to have the incision (and hence the ultimate scar) below the bikini line, to be as inconspicuous as possible. Following the incision, the skin and fat are lifted off the abdominal muscles, and the separated and stretched muscles are tightened and the “gap” between them repaired. The loose skin is then pulled down to tighen and excess loose skin is removed. Your umbilicus (belly button) is then repositioned into its new position. Wounds are closed with dissolving stitches beneath the skin.
Dr Merten does not usually use drains for abdominoplasty, to improve your comfort and recovery.
Dressings are then applied and compression garments will be required to be worn for at least 3 weeks, further assisting in swelling, healing and the final result.
A full tummy tuck takes 2-3 hours. A mini-tummy tuck usually takes 1-2 hours.
Are there other options?
If you only want to treat a small area of fat of your abdomen, liposuction alone may be a solution for your needs. Liposuction does not, however, tighten the muscles or skin in the abdominal area. We use either power-assisted or VASER liposculpture, resulting in smoother and more predictable results, with a better recovery period with minimal pain, swelling and bruising for the patient.
Will I need to be hospitalised for the procedure?
A traditional abdominoplasty usually takes three hours and involves a hospital stay of several days. If a “mini” abdominoplasty is done, this will involve less surgery time and less hospital length stay. All surgeries are performed in fully accredited facilities ensuring your safety.
What is recovery like?
Dr Merten does not usually place drain tubes for routine abdominoplasty. After the procedure, it is usual to have moderate discomfort, and you will be provided with pain medication to help alleviate these symptoms.
To promote blood circulation, you will be encouraged to get up and move around soon after surgery. Bending and lifting, however, should be avoided at this stage. Sleeping on your back or sides with your knees is recommended for the first few weeks after surgery.
An abdominal support garment is worn for the first for three weeks. It can be taken off, washed and dried. They are easily worn under clothing and are relatively light.
What are the results of abdominoplasty: What and When?
During the healing process, you will notice that your abdomen area is firmer and sleeker. To maintain long-lasting results, Dr. Merten recommends regular exercise and a healthy diet.
At around 6 weeks, most of the swelling will have subsided and you will get a good idea as to the final result. Final results however, are can be seen more at the 3 month mark. Scars will gradually fade and take around 1 year to fade.
When can I resume day normal activities after tummy tuck?
You should be up and about shortly after surgery, but usually will need two to three weeks off work, depending on the extent of your surgery and the level of physical activity in your job. Full recovery usually takes up to six weeks. Light exercise can start after about three weeks.
What complications can arise from the procedure?
As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications. These include:
- Bruising, bleeding, heamotoma formation
- Anaesthetic problems
- Deep Vein thrombosis
Risks and complications specific to Abdominoplasty include:
- Assymetry of abdominal region
- Poor healing causing unsightly scarring
- Altered abdominal sensation, numbness or pain
- Poor scarring
- Malposition of umbilicus
- Elevation of pubic hair
- Bulges at the ends of the wound (“dog ears”)
Will this procedure leave scars?
Abdominoplasty scars can be quite long, but are carefully positioned below the bikini line. The incision line of a full abdominoplasty generally runs from hip to hip, just above the pubic area. Usually there is also a scar around or within the belly button. Patients who don’t require correction to the lower abdominal muscles may have a shorter scar, similar to an extended caesarean scar. The scars are often red and somewhat thickened initially and will generally fade to a fine, pale line, over about one year.
If there is extreme excess skin, an additional incision that runs top to bottom, as well as side to side, may be required, or a full circumferential scar for extreme weight loss patients.
What else should I consider before having this surgery?
It is important to note that a tummy tuck is not to correct major weight related issues. This surgery will not be performed on current smokers or extreme obesity.
To understand what is reasonable to expect from the surgery, it is a good idea to look at before and after photos. This will give you a good perspective of what results other patients have achieved through Dr. Merten’s work. Some other things you may need to consider are;
- Are you happy with your body weight or do you intend to lose weight in the future?
- Do you plan to have children in the future?
- Have you considered the prospect of scarring on your abdomen?
- Can you spare the time required for a proper recovery?
Any more questions?
Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions that you might have about this procedure. Our team will be happy to address any concerns that you may have.