An Abdominoplasty, otherwise known as a Tummy tuck or lower body lift, is a procedure with the aims of improving the shape and tone of the Abdomen and potentially the thighs and Buttocks. This procedure is common following massive weight loss where excess redundant skin and fat is removed. It is also common in women following pregnancy who may have a residual hanging apron of skin and fat and weakness of the abdominal muscles which they are unable to improve with diet and exercise.
liposuction or liposculpture is an option for patients with pockets of fat, good quality skin which will retract following liposuction and diet and exercise tends to complement this procedure which is not the case with Tummy Tucks.
There are different types of Tummy Tuck surgery and varying degrees dependant on the how extensive the removal of excess skin and fat as well as tightening of the underlying muscle needs to be. Dr. Bobby A. Kumar will discuss and describe the appropriate Abdominoplasty technique and plan that will be required for you. A consultation addresses the following areas; a) a detailed medical history is initially taken to exclude possible underlying causes for the weight gain; b) an examination reveals the amount of skin and fat removal that is required, the degree of abdominal muscle weakness or divarication and the presence of underlying hernias. Typically patients will need to continue with a diet and exercise regime and be close to their goal or ideal weight prior to contemplating Abdominoplasty surgery.
Abdominoplasty Surgery and What to Expect
The estimated skin and fat excision is marked on the abdominal wall, and areas of safe liposuction are also circumscribed for treatment. The initial incision is on the lower abdomen and for women may incorporate an old caesarean scar. The abdominal skin fat flap is undermined and the excess is excised; occasionally the Umbilicus (belly button) may need to be floated or resited onto the remaining abdominal wall. Hernias that may be present will need to be repaired before or at the time of Abdominoplasty surgery. Also if there is evidence of muscular weakness this is tightened with a series of sutures.
The lower abdominal incision is closed with dissolving sutures. Occasionally postoperatively there may be “dog ears” which are redundant corners of skin at the end of the lower abdominal incision which will need to be trimmed. Patients may also notice that they have residual fat deposits which will need liposculpture at a later date.
Abdominoplasty is performed under general anaesthetic in a day hospital. Medicare and your private health fund will partially reimburse you for the cost of Abdominoplasty surgery.
Recovery from Abdominoplasty surgery is often slow, it will take 6-8 weeks for swelling to improve and dissipate. Wounds should not be placed under tension otherwise there is a risk of wound spreading and possible breakdown. Initially patients may have drains inserted; these will need to be removed within 24 to 48 hours. Patients will walk and sleep with an obvious bend at the hips as the wound tends to feel sore and tight. It usually takes 1-2 weeks before patients are able to stand upright with confidence.
A garment is to be worn for at least 2-3 months or until Dr. Bobby A. Kumar advises otherwise. There are times when the garment is removed such as bathing and washing of the garment, however in general it should be worn as often as possible. The garment helps prevent serum from collecting, initially bleeding due to its compressive effects and acts to allow the abdominal flap adhere to the underlying muscle and fascia. When the belly button (Umbilicus) requires resiting, the incision around the Umbilicus will need to be cared for with antibiotic ointment and dressing.
In every medical procedure there is a possibility of complications, which can cause a longer recovery period. The most common body lift complications include seromas (fluid accumulating under the skin) and small skin separations. Your Cosmetic surgeon will help to resolve these issues. Some patients experience reduced sensation in the treated area, which can be permanent.
Infection, bleeding, and blood clots are much less common. The abdominal scars will appear to worsen during the first weeks or months, and may take up to 18 months before they flatten and lighten in colour. The scars never completely disappear, but can be hidden by clothing.
Every surgical procedure involves a certain amount of risk and it is important that you understand these risks and the possible complications associated with them. In addition, every procedure has limitations. An individual’s choice to undergo a surgical procedure is based on the comparison of the risk to potential benefit. Although the majority of patients do not experience these complications, you should discuss each of them with Dr. Bobby A. Kumar to make sure you completely understand all possible consequences of a Tummy Tuck.
- Change in Skin Sensation
- Skin Contour Irregularities
- Major Wound Separation
- Skin Discoloration / Swelling
- Skin Sensitivity
- Fat Necrosis
- Pubic Distortion
- Delayed Healing
- Allergic Reactions