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Abdominoplasty – tummy tuck (female)

abdominoplastyAbdominoplasty, more commonly known as a ‘tummy tuck,’ is a  surgical procedure used to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall.

Abdominoplasty is requested most often by mothers once they have completed their family and are wanting to get their body back to their pre-pregnancy state. This procedure can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen or tummy and give back more youthful contours, but you will have a scar that runs from one hip to the other.

Most women are very happy to trade the scar for more normal contours. To see what these scars typically look like at 3 months following surgery, take a look at our photo gallery. We have examples of women of all shapes, sizes and ages to give you an idea of the results that can be achieved. Bear in mind that these scars are still young and will fade in colour over the next 12 to 16 months. However, the scars will never fade completely.

The best candidates for tummy tuck surgery are women who are fit and healthy, with a normal BMI, who have finished having children and and want to lose  fatty deposits on the abdomen and  loose abdominal skin that won’t respond to diet or exercise.

The surgery is particularly helpful to women who, through multiple pregnancies, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients, which frequently occurs with slight obesity, can also be improved.

Why should you wait until you have finished having children? Basically, if you were to have further children after tummy tuck surgery, you would lose the benefit gained from abdominoplasty. As well as removing excess skin and fat, the  vertical muscles in the abdomen are tightened during surgery. Further pregnancies can cause separatation of these muscles once again.

If you have scarring from previous abdominal surgery, this may adversely interfere with abdominoplasty. Your surgeon will be discuss these issues with you at the time of consultation.

Patients who intend to lose a lot of weight should ideally postpone the surgery until they have achieved a BMI (Body Mass Index) of less than 28. Surgery performed on a person with a high BMI carries many medical and anaesthetic risks. As this procedure is purely elective, we would not chose to perform this type of surgery on a high risk client. It is in your best interest to get your BMI to less than 28 before any surgical procedure. Feel free to call us on our free-call number to discuss BMI in more detail with one of experienced nurses..

Abdominoplasty can enhance the way you look and feel, but it won’t necessarily cause other people to treat you differently. All surgery carries some risks, think carefully about exactly what it is you would like to change, and your expectations and take the time to discuss this with Dr McGovern.

Risks include, but are not limited to: postoperative complications such as infection and blood clots are rare, but can occur. Infection can be treated with drainage and antibiotics, but will prolong your hospital stay. You can minimize the risk of blood clots by moving around as soon after the surgery as possible.

Poor healing, which results in conspicuous scars, may necessitate a secondary procedure. Smokers will be advised to stop completely for 3 weeks before and after surgery, as smoking increases markedly the risk of complications and delays healing. Dr McGovern will not perform abdominoplasty on a current smoker.

surgeryAt your initial consultation with Dr McGovern, he will discuss with you what you dislike and what you are hoping to achieve. He will evaluate your health, determine the extent of fat deposits in your abdominal region, and carefully assess your skin tone. You must inform him if you smoke, have any health problems and if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs.

Be frank in discussing your expectations, Dr McGovern will be equally frank with you, describing your alternatives and the risks and limitations of esurgery.

If, for example, your problems are limited to the area below the navel, you may require a less complex procedure called mini-abdominoplasty, which can often be performed on a day procedure. You may, on the other hand, benefit more from abdominoplasty done in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips, for a better body contour. Or maybe liposuction alone would create the best result.

In any case Dr McGovern will work with you and your problematic areas to recommend the procedure that is right for you and will come closest to producing the desired body contour.

You will be given  specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on what to avoid prior to surgery, and what medications and supplements may be useful prior to surgery.

If you smoke, plan to quit at least three weeks before and not to resume for at least three weeks after your surgery. This is an ideal time to quit smoking.

You should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a few days to a week after you leave the hospital. If you have small children, you will require help for at least one week.

Dr McGovern performs abdominoplasty at the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital with at least an overnight stay. Plan to stay 2 nights if possible. Mini-abdominoplasty can be done as a day procedure.

Both abdominoplasty and mini-abdominoplasty are performed under a general anaesthesia, so you’ll sleep through the operation. We use only qualified anaesthetists to perform your anaesthetic – not general practitioners.

Adominoplasty usually takes two to three hours, depending on the extent of work required. Mini-abdominoplasty may take an hour or more. Most commonly, a long incision is made from hip to hip, just above the pubic area. A second incision is made around  the navel (belly button) to free it from surrounding tissue. With mini-abdominoplasty, the incision is generally a short incision just above your pubic hair and the belly button is not moved. This of course will vary from case to case.

abdo-fem

Next, Dr McGovern will separate the skin and subcutaneous tissues from the abdominal wall all the way up to your ribs and lifts a large skin flap to reveal the vertical muscles in your abdomen. These muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position. This provides a firmer abdominal wall and narrows the waistline.

The skin flap is then stretched down and the extra skin is removed. A new hole is cut for your navel, which is then stitched in place. Finally, the incisions will be stitched, dressings will be applied, and a temporary tube will be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site.

In mini-abdominoplasty, the skin is separated only between the incision line and the navel. This skin flap is stretched down, the excess is removed, and the flap is stitched back into place. Tightening of the lower tummy wall only is performed.

recoveryAfter your surgery for the first few days, your abdomen will be swollen and you’re likely to feel considerable pain and discomfort which can be controlled by medication. Depending on the extent of the surgery and on your progress and preferences you may remain in hospital for 1 to 2 nights.

Women with young children and who are covered by private health insurance often chose to stay for 3 nights in the Sunshine Cast Private Hospital.

We recommend the use of a pain pump for a couple of days following abdominoplasty. The cost of this device is covered by private health insurance, and provides local anaesthetic directly to the muscles which have been operated on for maximal pain relief. If you are uninsured the cost of the pain pump is approximately $300.

You will not shower or change your dressings for 48 hours following your surgery. And though you may not be able to stand straight at first, you should start walking as soon as possible. Nursing staff will help you to start mobilising. The use of a pain pump will have you up and about on the day of your surgery.

Surface stitches around the umbilicus will be removed in stages over the first two weeks, and deeper absorbable sutures elsewhere will not need removal. Any dressings over your incision will remain in place for the first week and then be removed, you will continue to use a support garment for approximately 2 to 6 weeks.

Most people find that it takes about 2 – 3 months to be completely back to normal following abdominoplasty. Obviously, the fitter you are to start with, the quicker and less eventful your recovery. Some people return to work after two weeks, while others take three or four weeks to rest and recuperate. You will be given a medical certificate for work if necessary. This certificate will give “surgical condition” as the reason. It will not mention the type of surgery you have had.

Exercise will help you heal more quickly and uneventfully. Even people who have never exercised before should begin an exercise program to reduce swelling, lower the chance of blood clots, and tone muscles. Vigorous exercise, however, should be avoided until you can do it comfortably.

It is important to keep your scars supported with the hypo-allergenic tape (micropore) that we give you after your surgery. We ask that you continue its used for 3 months for maximal benefit.

Expect it to take 6 months before most your scars flatten out and lighten in color and 18 months before they improve maximally. While they’ll never disappear completely, abdominal scars will not show under most clothing, even bathing suits.

Abdominoplasty produces excellent results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin. And in most cases, the results are long lasting, if you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly. If you’re realistic in your expectations and prepared for the consequences of the permanent scar and a sometimes lengthy recovery period, abdominoplasty may be just the answer for you.

If you have further questions, write them down and ask Dr McGovern at your consultation.  Our experienced staff are also always available for you.