The tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) procedure is a plastic surgery operation to surgically address problems with overstretching of the stomach and abdominal skin. It also addresses the appearance and contour of the abdomen.
There are several different types of tummy tuck procedures available and the right one depends on your condition, physique, presenting problems, and medical and surgical history.
Patients seek abdominoplasty surgery for a variety of reasons, including correcting pockets of body fat, sagging skin, and fat bulges across the abdomen. These are common in both men and women, and it is a popular procedure for women post-pregnancy. Stomach fat can be difficult to treat with diet and exercise alone. Further, many women suffer knowingly from abdominal hernias and torn abdominal muscles after childbirth, further hindering their ability to regain a flatter stomach.
As a result, the tummy tuck procedure is one of the most common surgeries performed in Australia, second only to breast surgeries.
Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty
A “full” tummy tuck or abdominoplasty involves tightening the abdominal muscles and flattening the stomach. A fully qualified plastic surgeon will also repair any underlying muscle damage to achieve the best possible result.
The aim is to achieve flatter stomach contours and a curvier, natural-looking waistline. Repair to the underlying muscles also aims to improve the patient’s core strength.
Liposuction Assisted Abdominoplasty
Sometimes known as the “Brazilian Abdominoplasty” or “Suction Assisted Abdominoplasty”, liposuction assisted abdominoplasty is seen as a body contouring procedure. It involves employing liposuction alongside a normal tummy tuck procedure in order to fully customise your surgery for more natural-looking results.
Further, it allows your qualified plastic surgeon to smooth out localised fat pockets and bulges, for a smoother, flatter result. This is the preferred procedure for post-pregnancy and post-weight loss patients.
Considering Tummy Tuck Surgery? Download our handy Guide.
Circumferential Abdominoplasty – Belt Lipectomy
Unlike a tummy tuck, a circumferential abdominoplasty or belt lipectomy is a re-contouring procedure for the entire trunk. It addresses both the front and the lower back, and sometimes elevates the buttocks. Plastic surgeons generally use this procedure for patients recovering after massive weight loss or weight loss from bariatric surgery.
The mini tummy tuck is very similar to a regular abdominoplasty. However, unlike a normal abdominoplasty, the incision is generally not as long. As a result, recovery is generally shorter.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
Firstly you will be administered a general anaesthetic by an experienced anaesthetist in a safe, sterile hospital setting.
Second, a full tummy tuck procedure involves a horizontal incision in the general area between the pubic hairline and the navel. The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the type of abdominoplasty you require and the amount of correction you need.
Further, a second incision may be necessary to remove excess skin from the upper abdomen.
Your surgeon then separates the skin from the abdominal wall to the ribs. Dr Rubinstein then draws the underlying muscle and tissue together with stitches. The excess skin and fat is removed before upper abdominal skin is stretched down to the lower abdominal.
Finally, a new opening is created for the navel.
The final results may be initially obscured by swelling and your inability to stand fully upright until internal healing is complete. Within a week or two, you should be standing tall and confident about your new slimmer profile.
Are You a Good Tummy Tuck Candidate?
What makes a good candidate for a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty surgery?
While it is best to discuss your eligibility in a private consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon, generally good candidates for abdominoplasty surgery are:
- Those with excess skin that cannot be remedied with diet and/or exercise
- Patients requiring diastasis recti repair, hernia repair, or repair to torn abdominal muscles
- Those who have reached a healthy weight and BMI but are unable to lose stubborn stomach fat
- Patients noticing a loss of abdominal firmness or sagging after weight loss or pregnancy
- Those who have finished having children and/or do not have weight fluctuations
- Patients who plan to maintain and/or improve their current fitness level and weight
What is Considered During Abdominoplasty Consultations
There are a number of things your specialist plastic surgeon will consider during your one-on-one consultation. These include:
- Your overall health
- Your skin and BMI
- The extent of the damage to your abdominal muscles
- Factors that can influence your surgery and healing process
- Your genetics
- Whether or not you are considering having more children
- How stable your weight is
What an Abdominoplasty Cannot Do
Tummy tuck surgery can never be an alternative to weight loss, a healthy diet and exercise. As a result, abdominoplasty procedures may not be ideal if you are still carrying excess weight or are at an unsafe BMI.
Further, while a tummy tuck can reduce some stretch marks located in the areas to be excised, it will likely not treat all your stretch marks. With less skin volume you will likely notice less stretch marks, however, it is important to discuss with your surgeon how much surgery will improve their appearance.
How Much Does Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Cost?
The cost of abdominoplasty surgery can vary across Australia and Melbourne. It depends entirely on the surgeon you choose, where you have your operation, etc.
Often sites that post the estimated cost of a tummy tuck surgery do not include all the related and necessary expenses. As a result, you may end up paying more than you expected. Dr Rubinstein never recommends shopping for low-cost surgery as it is unlikely that a FRACS level plastic surgeon will be performing the procedure. It is important to do your research before deciding on a plastic surgeon for your chosen procedure. Further, revision surgery is costly and is not guaranteed to fix the issue you experienced with your initial surgery if you chose to explore cheaper surgical options.
It is always important to pursue plastic surgery based on skill, not cost.
Does Medicare Cover Abdominoplasty Surgery?
Medicare does not cover tummy tuck surgery. However, many women’s health groups are lobbying to change this due to its benefits after pregnancy and weight loss.
Will My Tummy Tuck Surgery Use Drains?
Drain-free surgery is the preferred approach of Dr Rubinstein to improve your comfort during post-op recovery and reduce infection risks at drain insertion sites. Some patients, however, will require drains, which will be removed as soon as possible.
Tummy Tuck Recovery
Body contouring procedures require planning and adequate healing time. Scars can take up to 18 months to mature or longer if you have a complication or infection.
How Long Will I Need to Wear a Compression Garment?
You will not wear your compression garment day and night, except for bathing, for about 2-3 months. Dr Rubinstein will advise you on when you can remove it at night and how long you can continue wearing the garment.
Tummy Tuck Before and After Gallery
To view some of Dr Rubinstein’s previous abdominoplasty patients, click here to direct you to the abdominoplasty before and after gallery.
The Next Steps
- Visit the FAQs pages and patient reviews to learn more about your intended procedure.
How to Book your Initial Consultation
- Email us or call on (03) 8849 1444 to arrange your consultation with Dr Rubinstein
- A referral from your GP or from your specialist is helpful but not essential
What to Bring to your Surgeon Consultation
- You are more than welcome to bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices
- Ensure you take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents provided
- Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes
- Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. November 2018. Abdominoplasty [online]. Available from: https://plasticsurgery.org.au/procedures/surgical-procedures/abdominoplasty/ [accessed 16 November 2018]
- ISAPS. November 2018. Abdominoplasty – Mini [online]. Available from: https://www.isaps.org/procedures/body/mini-abdominoplasty/ [accessed 16 November 2018]
- US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. November 2018. Liposuction Assisted Abdominoplasty: An Enhanced Abdominoplasty Technique [online]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6191222/ [accessed 16 November 2018]
- ISAPS. November 2018. Body Lift [online] Available from: https://www.isaps.org/procedures/body/body-lift/ [accessed 16 November 2018]