Abdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck, is surgery performed to remove sagging skin and excess fat from the middle and lower abdomen. The unwanted protrusion of the abdomen is usually a result of pregnancy or a can be caused be either an increase in weight or weight loss. Abdominoplasty can be performed both for men and women.
LAYERS OF THE ABDOMINAL WALL:
There are three layers to the abdominal wall that need to be corrected in an abdominoplasty;
- the skin,
- the fatty tissue,
- and the underlying muscle.
All of these layers at some stage are stretched, weakened or increased in size resulting in an undesirable appearance. In many cases, the muscles and skin stretch so much that they do not return to normal, regardless of the amount of diet and exercise. An abdominoplasty can make an enormous change to a persons body contour.
AM I A CANDIDATE FOR ABDOMINOPLASTY (TUMMY TUCK)?
A tummy tuck may be a good option for you if you:
- Desire improvement of skin and muscle laxity in the abdominal area
- Are physically healthy and at a stable weight
- Have realistic expectations
- Are a non-smoker or have stopped smoking, or will stop smoking during the surgery and entire recovery period.
Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery is a highly individualized procedure, and as such, may not be suitable for everyone. It is a very personal decision and you should have realistic goals and expectations before undergoing surgery.
A tummy tuck is not suitable for people who cannot have anaesthetic, are prone to bleeding, have poor healing ability, or are too high of a risk for surgical complications. A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program. Keep in mind that while the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight. For that reason, you may be asked to consider delaying the procedure if you are still in the process of losing weight or if you are planning on having more children.
Your goals, expectations and an understanding of achievable results are most important, and these will be discussed during your consultation.
WHY IS ABDOMINOPLASTY (TUMMY TUCK) PERFORMED?
Tummy tucks are typically performed for changes to the belly that have occurred through pregnancy and/or weight loss. The usual problems are stretch marks (scars caused by skin that has been forced to stretch too much too quickly), excess skin, excess fatty tissue and weakened or separated muscles. Finally, problems with the pubic area frequently exist with excess fullness and hanging. This typically causes difficulties with tight fitting clothing, social embarrassment and hygiene problems.
These problems can be improved or corrected with a well planned tummy tuck. Removing the excess skin may remove most, if not all, the stretch marks creating a single scar below your pants line that can be comfortably hidden. If required, the pubic area is thinned out and lifted.
Firstly, upon arriving at our clinic you will be met by our friendly staff and they will walk you through the initial patient registration process. Once this is done, you will be ready to be taken through for your initial consultation with Dr Ali Hussain.
During this consultation, you will be asked number of questions, including about your relevant medical background, history of surgery, especially abdominal surgery, and your general tummy concerns, followed by the physical examination to assess the belly, skin quality, fat and the muscles.
Once Dr Ali has confirmed you are a suitable candidate, a surgical plan is created to provide you with the desired outcome. Of course, an important part of this is ensuring you have realistic expectations about the results achievable.
Dr Ali Hussain will discuss with you the details of the surgery, your expected recovery period and inform you about the potential risks and complications to allow you to make an informed decision. Photos are then taken for our medical records.
If you are planning to have more children, you should discuss this with Dr Ali Hussain at your consultation; however, it is advisable to wait until after you have completed your family to have this procedure.
Dr Ali Hussain will offer you a secondary complimentary consultation to answer any additional questions you have following your initial consultation. It is important that you have a thorough understanding of your planned procedure.
WILL I HAVE VISIBLE TUMMY TUCK SCARS?
Abdominoplasty incisions are generally made on the bikini line, but this can vary. An incision stretching from hip to hip is made low on the abdomen, in a location that should be hidden under swimwear and underwear. Initially after surgery, the scars are typically reddish in colour, but they should fade in time to a light pink and after one or two years the scars may become barely noticeable. In our experience, most of our patients believe that the aesthetic results of the procedure are well worth the resulting scar.
Very rarely, you may experience unsatisfactory scars which are called keloid and hypertrophic scars. If scarring is a concern for you after surgery, Dr Ali Hussain will provide you with a scar treatment plan to expedite the healing of your scars. There are several treatment options available, which will be personalised to your situation.
HOW IS THE TUMMY TUCK PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
You will have at least two consultations with Dr Ali Hussain before surgery, and he can answer specific questions about what to expect after your operation. Be sure to ask questions to ensure that you go into this procedure feeling comfortable and with realistic expectations. Dr Ali Hussain will give you specific instructions on post-operative care before your surgery. These instructions may include:
- How to care for the surgical site
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
- When to follow-up with your surgeon
Dr Ali Hussain will only perform your abdominoplasty surgery in safe, accredited operating facilities. Abdominoplasty is performed under general anaesthesia. The procedure can take between two to three hours to complete, depending on which surgical technique is used and the complexity of your case.
During the operation, and depending on the details of your treatment plan, Dr Ali Hussain will create an incision along the lower abdomen to access the foundational structures. Once the muscles have been tightened (creating a corset-like shape that holds in and flattens the waistline), the belly button will be relocated, fatty tissue removed via liposuction, and excess skin trimmed away. The incision will be closed and dressings applied.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING RECOVERY FROM ABDOMINOPLASTY?
Recovery time will vary from patient to patient and will also depend on the extent of the surgery. But expect at least two weeks off work to allow for complete rest and another one week for the majority of visible swelling and bruising to disappear. Light exercise may be resumed within two to three weeks, but strenuous exercise should be avoided for at least two to three months. You will be given post-surgery instructions to follow and if you have any questions, please speak to Dr Ali Hussain.
Following your surgery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions. You may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimise swelling and to support your abdomen as it heals. A small, thin tube may also be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
TYPES OF ABDOMINOPLASTIES
Standard Tummy Tuck
Many people often enquire about a standard tummy tuck. It is the most commonly performed procedure with excision of the excess skin, fat and tightening the muscles. The standard tummy tuck is suitable for those women who have excess loose skin in the lower and middle abdominal area. Standard tummy tuck involves the repositioning of the belly button to achieve the desired results.
Fleur-de-lis Tummy Tuck
Most tummy tucks result in a single scar along the lower abdomen, which is nicely concealed within normal underwear line, and an additional scar around, or within, your belly button. However, sometimes an additional scar is also required along the entire midline of your abdomen up to you lower chest. This type of tummy tuck is referred to as a fleur-de-lis. This variation of tummy tuck is mostly reserved for massive weight loss patients where a standard tummy tuck would not offer enough skin tightening.
In doing so, you maximise the improvement in your body contour. Of course, the cost for that is accepting a scar vertically along the length of your belly. In the end, only you can say what you are prepared to accept; great contour, more scars, or less scars, and less contour improvement.
Many people often enquire about a mini-tummy tuck.
The first thing to realise is that only a small group of women would benefit from a mini tummy tuck.
The mini-tummy tuck is only suitable for those few women who have a little bit of loose skin in the lower abdominal area – just above the pubic level. It also means that your happy with and don’t need to change the skin around the belly button and upper abdominal region. The mini-tummy tuck basically removes this excess and loose skin at the very lower abdomen, just above the pubic area.
The belly button is not “moved” in this procedure and usually not associated with any muscle tightening.
One of the common problems associated with pregnancy is separation of the abdominal muscles, officially known as diastases recti. This can vary from mild to extreme.
This causes a few issues.
- Firstly, it results in a greater abdominal girth than is necessary, which basically means your belly is bigger than it needs to be.
- In extreme cases it can act very much like a hernia, so when you strain a large ridge like fullness protrudes along your abdominal wall midline.
- And with significant separation, it can potentially result in a disturbed biomechanical performance of your entire lower back and midsection. So basically your core strength is not as great as it should be, you get increased arching of your lower back and the resultant back pain.
Ultimately, a routine part of most tummy tucks is tightening of these separated muscles to help re-align the muscles, tighten your waistline and improve your biomechanics.
POST SURGICAL RESULTS AND EXPECTATIONS
One common myth with tummy tuck surgeries is that you’re going to achieve a six pack after surgery. This is typically not the case. The operation is designed to remove excess skin and the associated fatty tissue. It is a contouring procedure, tailoring the skin to better fit your underlying body.
A six pack requires two things:
- A well-formed and defined six pack muscles. If you don’t have those before surgery, then surgery is not going to create them.
- A very thin fatty layer, or minimal fatty tissue. The thickness of the fatty layer will be proportionate to the other areas in your body. In other words, if your body fat percentage is not down to a “shredded” state before surgery, then it won’t be like that after surgery.
- Of course, some of the greatest results after a tummy tuck are achieved not by surgery, but by the patient, who uses that massive change achieved by surgery as the inspiration and motivation to continue their personal journey of self-improvement and further transform their body by changing their lifestyle – that is, a better diet and exercise.
WEIGHT LOSS FOLLOWING SURGERY
An important thing to understand is that for the majority of patients a tummy tuck should never be considered a weight loss procedure. A tummy tuck is usually performed to remove excess skin that diet and exercise will not remove. Significant fluctuations in weight post surgery may affect your long term result.
PREGNANCY FOLLOWING ABDOMINOPLASTY
Abdominoplasty will not stop you getting pregnant and most importantly it will not prevent your tummy from growing during pregnancy. So, it’s not going to complicate future pregnancies, however it is important to remember that pregnancy or significant changes in your weight can affect your result. For this reason, Dr Ali Hussain recommends waiting until you have completed your family, or are no longer planning to have children before you elect to have a tummy tuck.
ON SURGERY DAY
You will be provided with information regarding your arrival time at the hospital and when to begin fasting a few days prior to surgery. You will be seen by a hospital staff member who will direct you to the pre-surgical waiting area before Dr Ali Hussain and your anaesthetist perform their pre-operative checks and answer any final questions. At this point you will be made comfortable while you wait to be taken into the operating room. We do our best to ensure that you are advised to come to the hospital as close to the scheduled surgery time, however sometimes you may have to wait a little longer than planned before we can start your surgery.
You can expect to see Dr Ali Hussain at 24-48 hours following your procedure, at 1 week, 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and finally 12 months following your surgery. You can of course request additional appointments, and Dr Ali may also request that you attend additional appointments depending on your own personal healing.
These appointments are important to ensure things are progressing the way they should, and you are hitting the right recovery and healing milestones.
Many of our patients commute from interstate to have their surgery. In this case we make provisions and arrangements to stay in touch with you especially at the key time points to make sure nothing is missed. And those patients are welcome to see us any time they are traveling to Brisbane just by letting our clinic know in advance and we’ll fit you in.
In order to better prepare for your surgery and to help with getting back to normal, it’s important to appreciate what you’re going to experience.
What to expect for the first 24 hours:
- You will wake from surgery in a hospital bed with the head of the bed elevated and one or two pillows under your knees all designed to keep your hips in a flexed position. This is to ensure you have minimal tension on your surgical wounds.
- Your wounds are stitched up using several layers of internal dissolving sutures….although often some stitches around your belly button are visible and will need to be removed after one week.
- All your wounds are covered using waterproof dressings.
- You will have a compression garment applied over the wound.
When you first get up to walk, which we encourage with assistance on the first post-operative day, then you will be hunched over and slowly shuffle along. Don’t try to straighten up because you are feeling tight for a very good reason, your skin has been tightened and usually so have your muscles. Of course, those who have not required any muscle tightening, are generally far more comfortable but will still feel tight.
As a very rough guide, it takes approximately two weeks before you feel like you can straighten up. Don’t force the issue, it will happen when it wants to happen.
RETURNING TO DRIVING
As a general rule it takes about two weeks before you can straighten up due to the significant abdominal tightness. Therefore, you shouldn’t even consider driving for the first two weeks. After two weeks, common sense should be used. If you feel like you are safe to get behind a wheel based on how your body is feeling and how mobile you are, then by all means you can drive.
RETURNING TO WORK
Your return to work will vary from patient to patient, however as a general guideline you can consider returning to an office-based job one to two weeks after surgery. More manual and labour intensive jobs should be discussed with Dr Ali during your consultation.
RETURNING TO EXERCISE
Returning to normal physical activity including exercising is important after a tummy tuck. Of course, you will need to understand that a full abdominoplasty is a big operation with a sizeable external wound, usually with muscle tightening and a significant internal surgical wounds that need to heal.
- After about two weeks once you feel like you can actually stand up straight, feel free to increase the walking distance, but no power walking or running.
- Avoid any physical activities that cause you to strain or activate your core muscles for the first 6-8 weeks.
- At six weeks, you can then slowly return to doing normal training and physical activities. I say slowly because you are definitely not going to be able to do what you want to do and you will still have a reasonable amount of pain and discomfort when you start straining.
- Abdominal workouts such as crunches etc should be avoided for the first 3 months at least.
Ultimately, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t eventually get back to normal, it just takes time.
Sexual activity should be avoided for a minimum of 6 weeks post surgery. It is important to give your body the time to rest and heal.
POST OPERATIVE GARMENT
Many people continue to wear the garment beyond 6 weeks as it tends to provide some control of this swelling. Dr Ali Hussain recommends you perform gentle daily massage to these areas starting a few weeks after surgery to help control the swelling and facilitate the settling process. We also have an onsite massage therapist, which we recommend you use for the initial healing period for the best post operative result.
HOW LONG DOES A TUMMY TUCK LAST?
Abdominoplasty surgery is technically a permanent surgery; however, your lifestyle and habits can modify your results, as can the natural process of aging. Pregnancy and childbirth, as well as significant weight gain can alter your abdominal contours, which is why we recommend maintaining a healthy weight and waiting until you have finished building your family to have a tummy tuck. Abdominoplasty does not inhibit your ability to get pregnant, so should you decide to have another child down the line, this procedure should have no impact on your fertility.
HOW TO BOOK A CONSULTATION
You can book a consultation to discuss your suitability for this procedure by phoning us on 0420 488 105 or by emailing email@example.com. Alternatively, you can fill out the contact form on our home page and we will phone you back to organise a suitable appointment time.
Disclaimer: All surgical procedures carry risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.