Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
- Non cosmetic and cosmetic procedure
- Minimum 3 night stay in private hospital
This is an operation performed to make the abdomen appear flatter. The contour of the abdomen is affected by the quality and elasticity of the skin, the amount of fat deposits beneath the skin, and the laxity of the abdominal muscles. These issues can affect both women and men. The abdomen can have excess skin and fat which might not improve despite diet and exercise. The effects of ageing, pregnancy and childbirth, weight loss, and other operations on the abdomen can all contribute to excess sagging skin and fat and to lax abdominal muscles. There are a number of types of tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). These operations all involve the removal of excess skin and fat and tightening of the abdominal muscles. Liposuction might be needed at the same time to further improve the appearance of the abdomen.
What happens at the first consultation?
Dr Norris will ask you what concerns you have regarding the appearance of your tummy and what you hope to achieve by having the operation. He will then assess the amount of excess skin and fat, the elasticity of the skin, and the laxity of your underlying abdominal muscles. He will also assess the nature of any old surgical scars and feel for hernia. You may require a full abdominoplasty, lower abdominoplasty, or mini-abdominoplasty depending on the appearance of your tummy. Dr Norris will discuss in detail how the operation is performed and where the scar can be placed. You will be given a surgical quotation and your options for surgery. In some cases, some of the surgical fee may be covered by Medicare and your Health Fund. If you decide to proceed with surgery, Dr Norris will see you again at a second consultation.
How is the operation done?
Dr Norris performs abdominoplasty in a fully accredited hospital. The anaesthetist that Dr Norris works with will give you a general anaesthetic. You can expect the operation to take 3-4 hours. If you are having a full abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), the incision (and the scar that subsequently forms) will be made across the lower abdomen at the level of your pubic hair and extend upwards and outwards on either side to your hip bones. Dr Norris will ask you to bring the type of underwear or swimsuit bottom you intend to wear after your operation to ensure the scar is hidden from public view.
The skin is lifted up from the abdominal muscles to the level of the rib cage. The belly-button (umbilicus) is released from the lifted skin and remains attached to the abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles are tightened to give you a flatter tummy and a smaller waist. The lifted skin is then pulled down firmly so that the excess skin and fat can be removed and the umbilicus is stitched into its new position. If you are having a lower abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) only, the incision might still need to be as long as the incision for a full abdominoplasty but the skin is lifted off the abdominal muscles only to the level of the umbilicus and the umbilicus does not need to be separated from the lifted skin and stitched back into a new position. If you are having a mini-abdominoplasty it might be possible to limit the incision and scar to the width of your pubic area and the umbilicus will not need to be moved.
With all types of abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) you might also benefit from liposuction at the same time to give you the result that you desire. At the end of the operation two drains are placed beneath the skin and the incisions are closed with absorbable sutures to save you the inconvenience of having them removed. A dressing is applied over the incisions and you will leave the operating theatre wearing a comfortable and supportive compression garment.
What happens after the surgery?
- Procedure usually takes between 3-4hrs to perform.
- Most patients will be instructed to stay in hospital for a minimum of 3-5 days after surgery.
- You might have your drains removed in hospital. If not, these will be removed in Dr Norris’s rooms at your next appointment.
- You will require a friend, family member or partner to drive you home from hospital.
- You will leave with written postoperative instructions and a prescription for pain-relief.
- You will not be able to drive for up to 2 weeks.
- Daily short showers are permitted, ensuring your waterproof dressings are dried adequately.
- Sleep on your back, elevated by a few pillows for the first 6 weeks. This will help reduce your swelling.
- You will experience the most discomfort in the first 3 or 4 days after the surgery.
- You can return to normal duties after 2 weeks.
- Swelling may take up to 6 weeks to settle.
- You can start light exercise at two weeks after the procedure.
- Return to regular exercising after 6 weeks or as instructed by Dr Norris.
- You can return to work two weeks after the operation unless work involves heavy use of the upper body or lifting, in which case 4 weeks off work should be allowed.
- You will have an appointment in the clinic after you have been discharged from hospital to check and change the dressings.
- Keloid Scarring Where your scars begin to look raised and lumpy and even darker in colour. If this begins to happen please inform Dr Norris and he can look at treating it with steroid injections. Wearing your supplied silicon gel strips after surgery 24/7 will aid in preventing this from happening.
- Haematoma A collection of blood in the operated area, which is either naturally absorbed into the body or sometimes requires further surgical drainage. Symptoms include swelling, pain, bruising, hot to touch, or itchy skin.
- Infection Infections are unpredictable and normally occur in the first 3 weeks after surgery and treated immediately with antibiotics and daily dressings.
- Seroma It is possible for seroma fluid (leaking tissue fluid) to collect beneath the wound after the drains have been removed. If this happens to you then this fluid can be removed painlessly in the consulting rooms using an aspiration needle.