Abdominoplasty is the formal name for what is commonly called a “Tummy Tuck” procedure. This procedure improves the contour of the abdomen in three ways. Firstly the excess skin that is commonly produced as a result of pregnancy (especially twins or multiple pregnancies) is removed. The fat lying below the skin between the navel and the pubic region is also removed. In addition, the muscle wall that is commonly stretched by pregnancy is tightened in a strong repair.
This operation “trades” an often dramatic improvement in the contour of the abdomen for a permanent scar, which runs from hip to hip. Subsequent information is designed to give you a basic understanding of the abdominoplasty procedure.
A more detailed and more specific explanation for your particular circumstance will be provided at consultation with Dr Scamp or on the telephone to his Practice Nurse
PH: (07) 5539 1000.
Who is suitable?
Abdominoplasty can be suitable for men and women if they are troubled by substantial bulge of fat or loose abdominal skin that does not respond to diet or exercise alone. Similarly, stretched, loose skin will not shrink away with weight loss or exercise. This operation is the best for people who are at their ideal weight or close to it. This is not a good operation for the obese. It achieves less impressive results in the obese and the surgery itself is more hazardous.
Pre-existent scars on the abdomen may also increase the risk of surgery or necessitate some adjustment to the planned incision. Remember abdominoplasty trades a substantial improvement in your contour for a permanent scar.
The scar will be demonstrated to you photographically at consultation but remember, it may take a year or more for the scar to get to its best. An abdominoplasty will not get you back into a G-String but it will permit you to wear tight-fitting clothes and look good if your weight is not excessive.
As with any surgery, bleeding and infection are risks with abdominoplasty. Drains are placed at the time of surgery to remove any blood that forms when the wound is closed. These will not cope with a large amount of blood caused by a sudden bleed. The risk of bleeding can be reduced by avoiding smoking, aspirin, arthritis pills, high dose Vitamin E and Red Wine prior to surgery.
Infection is usually minor and results in delay of the healing and perhaps some deterioration of the scar. Rare infections, such as the “flesh-eating bug”, may result in loss of patches of skin requiring prolonged hospitalisation and skin grafts. Fortunately, this infection is indeed rare and antibiotics are given at the time of surgery to reduce this risk further.
You will be encouraged to get out of bed on the day after surgery to reduce the risks of clots in your legs and infections or clots in your lungs. Special stockings are provided to reduce the risk of clots in your legs. Smoking increases the risks of bleeding, infection, skin loss and poor scars.
Smoking must be ceased at least six weeks prior to surgery. This includes Nicotine patches.Expect the skin of your lower abdomen to feel quite numb after surgery. This may take one year or more to recover and may always feel a little strange.
At the consultation, Dr. Scamp will examine you and determine if you are suitable for abdominoplasty or if perhaps you could get an adequate result from a lesser procedure such as mini-abdominoplasty (which uses a smaller scar) or even liposuction alone. In general, where the skin tone is poor and the muscles are weak, liposuction will not give sufficient improvement on its own. However, more definite guidelines may be provided once you have been examined.
In most cases, your Health Insurance and Medicare will contribute to the costs of your abdominoplasty. Please check this with staff after your consultation. Preparation for surgery Cease smoking at least six weeks prior to surgery (including Nicotine patches). No aspirin, arthritis pills, high dose Vitamin E or red wine for two weeks prior to surgery.
Get as close as you can to your ideal weight – remember, this is not weight reduction surgery. It is more like having a suit tailor-made to fit you snugly. The closer you are to your ideal weight, the better the “cut of the suit”.
Arrange assistance with children and household chores for the first ten to fourteen days after surgery. Avoid abdominal exercises for six weeks after surgery.
You may commence walking and other less strenuous exercises as soon as you feel up to it after surgery. Usually after one week. Most people stay in hospital for three nights after abdominoplasty.
You will undergo a general anaesthetic but in addition, an epidural may be recommended. By use of an epidural, the pain in the first two days after surgery is reduced substantially, in much the same way as epidurals are used to reduce the pain of childbirth. This will make the procedure as comfortable as possible for you and expedite your recovery. Conversely, a “pain pump” infusion may be used into the wound to dramatically reduce your discomfort.
The operation Abdominoplasty takes approximately one and a half to two hours to perform. This varies with the size of the person and the extent of the surgery. A circular scar is placed around the navel and the navel is left attached to the abdominal wall. A long scar is run across above the pubic hair from hip to hip. The skin is lifted up off the muscle wall and freed up to the rib cage. The long vertical muscles of the abdominal wall are then tightened which narrows the waist and flattens the abdomen. Excess skin is excised and tightened and a new hole is made for the navel.
Where mini-abdominoplasty is possible, a shorter scar is employed and muscle correction, may be confined to the lower abdomen. Extensive liposuction to the abdomen is not generally recommended to be combined with full abdominoplasty due to the dangers to circulation of the skin.
For the first two days after surgery, you may have an epidural to control your pain. Whilst the epidural is working, you will be able to pass urine by means of a catheter. The abdomen will be bandaged and drains will remove any small amount of blood that forms after surgery. On the first day after surgery, you will be assisted to stand straight and walk. Whilst lying in bed, keep your legs moving and breathe deeply to reduce your risk of clots or chest infection.
When the dressing is removed on the third day after surgery, a small binder (like corset) is applied to support the abdomen. This helps to remove the swelling and makes it more comfortable. In general, most of the sutures are internal and there is little to remove. Tapes are applied to support the scars to get the finest possible scar.
Returning to Normal
It will take you six to eight weeks before you feel comfortable exercising the abdominal muscles. Return to fairly leisurely activities, such as walking, will come much faster. Do not try to set yourself a timetable so much as be guided by the way you feel. People recover at different rates.
If you have previously had a caesarean section for childbirth, you may find the recovery time not dissimilar. Your scars will begin to fade over three months but really take twelve months to get to their best. You are encouraged to wear tapes on the scars for the first three months to achieve the best possible scar.
Rarely, scar hypertrophy (thickening) or keloid (overgrowth) can occur and leave a prominent scar. Remember the scars are permanent, although in most people they fade well and become quite fine.
The Final Result
Abdominoplasty is an operation where the patient makes as much of a contribution as the surgeon.
If you are at your ideal weight at the time of surgery and keep yourself in good condition after surgery, you can expect the most improvement. Abdominoplasty cannot remove the fat that lies inside around the bowel and thus does not do a vast amount to reduce general obesity.
Remember, the slimmer you are, the better the “cut of the suit” made by your abdominoplasty. Most people undergoing this operation enjoy their improved contour and the reduced size of their clothes. The scar can be designed to suit your particular style of swimsuit but will never be hidden by a G-String.
The operation will help you wear tighter, firmer-fitting clothes and look better. However, this improvement in shape comes at the price of a permanent scar.Make an Enquiry