What is Abdominoplasty?

More commonly known as a tummy tuck, abdominoplasty is a cosmetic and functional procedure, which assists in removing excess skin and tightening the muscles around the abdominal area.

Who does this procedure suit?

Those who are concerned by excessively loose skin around the tummy area that has been stretched from pregnancy or previous weight gain and no amount of diet and exercise has helped return their previous shape. This loose skin can feel uncomfortable and unattractive to the person, they may not be able to wear certain clothing, and may also be causing functional problems. A tummy tuck is often done in conjunction with liposuction to remove excess fat and your surgeon will discuss this option with you.

What results will I expect?

Removal of loose skin around the tummy area helps to improve the waistline as well as flatten the abdominal area. This will assist in giving you more confidence in your appearance and help you return to a more ideal shape such as before pregnancy or weight gain.

What’s the first step to take?

During your first consultation your surgeon will discuss what you’d like to achieve, any expectations you have, questions about the procedure, medical history and current medication. We will provide as much information as possible so that you feel comfortable and informed, and if you feel overwhelmed in any way we encourage you to make a second consultation so that you feel confident with your decision.

How do I prepare for surgery?

Please ensure you have arranged someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out at home for a few days. If you have had previous issues with bleeding or you bruise easily please inform your surgeon as soon as possible. To reduce risk of bleeding and bruising please make sure to:

  • Avoid aspirin (or similar), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Voltaren and Nurofen) and Vitamin E two weeks before surgery. Panadol and vitamins B and C are safe to use.
  • Avoid smoking 2 weeks before and after surgery so as not to restrict circulation to the skin and delay healing.
  • Inform us immediately if you’ve had any infection (cold or flu) the week before your surgery.

What happens on the day of my surgery?

We will guide you to prepare for surgery so that your procedure and recovery go smoothly. On the day bring your toiletries, any medication needed and loose clothing or a night gown.

  • If your procedure is in the morning – do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.
  • If your procedure is in the afternoon – do not eat or drink anything after 8.00am.

What should I expect during surgery?

Abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthetic so that you will be completely unaware of the surgery or any pain, and sleep comfortably through the procedure.

Type of procedures:

Full abdominoplasty – your surgeon will make an incision just below the underwear/bikini line and the skin and fat of the abdomen is lifted away from the muscles underneath to the navel area. A second incision is made around the navel, the skin and fat is again lifted off the muscles to the rib area, allowing the navel to be left. The abdominal muscles are tightened and repaired by stitching them together and creating a firmer tummy wall and a narrower waist. The skin is then stretched down and any excess skin is removed. A new opening is made for your navel and stitched in place. Finally, the incisions within the bikini line will be stitched and dressings are applied. This procedure often takes two to three hours.

Mini abdominoplasty – a similar incision is made within the bikini line but often a little shorter than a full abdominoplasty. The skin is separated only between the lower incision line within the bikini and the navel. The navel is left in place and allows removal of loose skin and excess fat from the tummy as well as tightening of muscles. Liposuction may be combined if fat is needed to be removed in the upper abdomen or waist. This procedure often takes approximately one and a half hours.

What should I expect after surgery?

Your procedure is performed at one of our private hospitals and you will stay here for a few days during recovery.

During the first few days:

  • Moderate levels of pain is normal and more noticeable when standing or walking. Painkillers provided will assist in bringing relief during this time.
  • You may have drains placed under the skin to help remove any build up of fluid. These are either removed before you leave the hospital or you may be discharged home and return later to have them removed.

During the first week:

  • It is normal for your abdominal muscles to feel tight and firm to touch. When lying in bed, keeping the knees bent with two pillows behind them will help reduce the tension and make you feel more comfortable.
  • It is important to remain bent when you walk so as to reduce tension on the incision.

2-6 weeks after surgery:

  • To assist with the swelling, a surgical corset will be worn for the first 4-6 weeks after surgery, and any non-dissolvable stitches will be removed after a week.
  • Dissolvable stitches will disappear on their own.
  • Your scars will initially be firm and pink for at least 6 weeks. The process of scar fading can take up to 12-18 months however they will not fade entirely. Using surgical tape over the incision for 4-6 weeks, and topical vitamin E and/or silicon afterwards may assist in healing the scar.
  • Abdominoplasty is a major operation therefore at least 2 weeks off work to recover is needed.
  • Have someone help you at home as it is advised you do not drive for 2 weeks.
  • Walking is helpful at 3-4 weeks, however sport should be avoided for 4-6 weeks after surgery.
  • Heavy lifting is also to be avoided for 6 weeks.

What are the risks and complications with this procedure?

All surgeries come with risks that are important to understand so you make a well-informed decision.

  • Excessive internal bleeding occasionally occurs and may require removing some stitches to wash out the accumulated blood beneath the skin.
  • Seroma formation – a build up of excess body fluid is uncommon and will often disappear over a few weeks. In rare cases, larger seromas may require removal via needle aspiration or a small surgical procedure.
  • Infection – careful technique and antibiotic use help to minimize risk.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis – blood clots in the leg can occasionally occur. A calf massaging device is provided during surgery and overnight which minimizes risk. Patients taking the oral contraceptive pill are advised to stop one cycle before surgery.
  • Keloid or unsightly thick scars – occur in certain individuals who have a tendency to form poor scars.