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Your might feel embarrassed and frustrated by the extra weight and skin around your tummy, and perhaps it is affecting your daily life, or even causing functional concerns. Abdominoplasty, known as a ‘tummy tuck’, can be performed for many reasons – post pregnancy, as a definitive solution for an abdominal hernia, massive weight loss, back issues or simply for aesthetic reasons. The abdomen needs to be rebuilt, re-contoured and tension re-established to produce a lean feminine shape.

Abdominoplasty is my favourite operation as it can be so much more than aesthetically pleasing, performed correctly it can also restore core strength and function to the body. The results are truly life changing.

Dr Alastair Taylor FRACS

Tell me about...

  • What is involved in abdominoplasty?
  • Can you tell me more about postpartum abdominoplasty?
  • What is involved in abdominoplasty for hernia repair?
  • What about abdominoplasty after weight loss?
  • Can I combine a breast augmentation and abdominoplasty?

What is involved in abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty, or ‘tummy tuck’, surgery is designed to help improve the shape and tone of the abdominal region by removing excess sagging fat and skin to improve the shape and tone of the underlying tissue that supports the fat and skin. This procedure can be cosmetic or reconstructive in nature.

It involves the removal of all tissue from the umbilicus down to the pubis, relocation of the umbilicus, repair of the muscle wall and reshaping of the abdomen to produce a tighter, more contoured abdomen with increased core strength. If you put your thumb in your belly button and your finger above the pubis, anything you can hold, gets cut away.

You will have a scar from one hip to the other dipping down over the top of the pubic hair. The incision is designed to be as inconspicuous as possible and be hidden as much as possible by your swimwear, or by higher cut underwear.

An abdominoplasty operation takes 4 to 5 hours, is performed under general anaesthetic and requires up to 3 days stay in hospital. You will require 3 weeks off work and up to 6 weeks before returning to normal activity. You will also wear a compression garment after your operation.

Can you tell me more about postpartum abdominoplasty?

Pregnancy stretches apart the midline of the abdomen which may not shrink back after childbirth and can leave a permanent weak area. This alters the way the abdomen works. It now bulges on standing and the weakness also spreads to the back and pelvis, leading to back pain and a weak pelvic floor with stress incontinence.

The skin of the abdomen has been stretched in pregnancy and this may not shrink either after the second or third child. It can exhibit stretch marks, localised fat collections and sagging. A lot of women put up with this as they push their needs to the background looking after children, accepting their bodies have changed for the worse and that is the price they pay for pregnancy.

Your post pregnancy abdomen may be impacting on your daily life as it can impede your ability to get out of bed in the morning, get up off the floor, lift children or heavy shopping bags into cars, jump on the trampoline (or even laugh or cough) without bladder leakage. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

An abdominoplasty operation can restore function like core strength and continence, and as a side benefit, the wrinkly lower abdominal skin will be removed and the waist lowered and narrowed, producing a more ‘hour glass shape’.

After pregnancy the abdomen can be seriously destroyed, the muscles are separated, the skin saggy and the fat collections don’t go away. An operation to fix this is not just liposuction, or even liposuction with removal of skin and fat, the abdomen needs to be rebuilt, re-contoured and tension re-established to produce a lean feminine shape.

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What is involved in abdominoplasty for hernia repair?

A hernia is ‘an unusual protrusion of abdominal contents through a hole in the abdominal wall.’

The development of abdominal hernias following pregnancy is common. Some women stretch their midline so severely during pregnancy the previously thick tissue becomes very thin and easy to tear. This leaves holes for the abdominal contents to poke through. These bulges can be felt in the upper abdominal midline and under the belly button. Hernias can be tender, especially if they do not reduce under gentle pressure. Bowel can also be caught in a hernia, become twisted and gangrenous which is a medical emergency.

The very nature of the abdominoplasty surgery allows a more exposed repair, which is stronger and more reliable than the traditional methods using a patch of plastic mesh. Operative exposure of the abdominal wall during an abdominoplasty allows easy reduction of the hernia and the muscle repair from the chest to the pubis removes the weak mid-line problem.

It is not possible to repair a hernia in this fashion or perform an abdominoplasty if you plan on becoming pregnant in the future. A midline repair can impede abdominal expansion and the suture may rupture requiring the operation to be repeated.

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What about abdominoplasty after weight loss?

Massive weight loss leads to significant skin redundancy. Male or female body types may differ, but generally people who lose over 20 – 50 kg will carry a ‘spare tyre’ which is largest right in front. Skin can retract with lost fat but only so far. Depending on the amount of weight lost, this apron can hang down almost to the knees. This loose skin flap still contains all the fat cells but they are now empty.

Liposuction is part of a weight loss abdominoplasty but not much fat is removed, it is mostly to help with tissue mobility. There is a greater emphasis on skin resection for contouring in this procedure and the scars are frequently longer than a post partum operation.

Removing heavy flaps of skin leads to a dramatic increase in general comfort and a much better quality of life. Learn more about body lift for weight loss here.

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Can I combine a breast augmentation and abdominoplasty?

Often referred to as the ‘Mummy Makeover,’ the opportunity to combine an abdominoplasty with breast augmentation can restore a women’s pre-baby figure and deliver a ‘wow’ result, with the added benefit of only one period of recovery.

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Essential Information

Before Surgery

Referral

Obtain a Referral from your GP (Weight Loss Only)

Call the Clinic

Book an Appointment with Dr Taylor

Consultation

Meet with Dr Taylor and Patient Co-ordinator

Booking Surgery

Arrange Surgery and Presurgery Appointments

Pre-surgery Appointment

Meet with Dr Taylor's Nurses regarding your hospital admission

Admission to Hospital

Surgery performed under General Anaesthetic 3 Night Stay

After Surgery

Physiotherapy Program

Physio program to aid early recovery (Recommended)

Discharge from Hospital

Pressure Garment worn 24 hours a day

2 Week Suture Removal

Appointment with Dr Taylor and his nurses Garment worn only during the day Return to walking

3 Weeks

Return to Work, Driving

4 Weeks

Light Exercise

6 Weeks

Appointment with Dr Taylor, Remove Pressure Garment, Resume Normal Activities

6 Months

Final Post-op Appointment with Dr Taylor

Done correctly an Abdominoplasty can not only improve the aesthetic of the abdomen it can also restore core strength, improve back pain and urinary incontinence in post partum women.

Dr Alastair Taylor

Want to Know More?

Dr Taylor performs abdominoplasty surgery either at Sole’vita Surgery, Calvary John James Hospital in Deakin or National Capital Private Hospital. Dr Taylor will discuss this further, and any options available to you, during your consultation.

Your surgery may be booked at our private hospital, Sole’vita Surgery, a licensed medical hospital accredited under the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. Sole’ vita Surgery is part of The CAPS Clinic, with all services conveniently based in the one location in Deakin, Canberra.

Our facilities include modern surgical theatres, sterilisation services and recovery areas. Our overnight rooms feature flexible privacy glass-panelling and personal ensuite.

All of the Sole’ vita team are fully qualified and registered medical personnel, with no more than 5 patients staying at once, our patient-to-nursing-care ratio is the best in Australia.

We allow up to a 3 day stay after your abdominoplasty surgery, so that you can take your time to rest and recover.

Dr Alastair Taylor (MBBS, FRACS) is a highly qualified, leading plastic surgeon with over 20 years experience in plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery, including breast, body, and facial rejuvenation surgery. Dr Taylor qualified as a Specialist Plastic Surgeon in 1998. He holds a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS). Learn more about Dr Taylor.

If your abdominoplasty surgery takes place at our Sole’vita Surgery private hospital, you can be assured that Dr Taylor leads a dedicated team of qualified health care professionals, including anaesthetic staff and nurses. His team have built a reputation for quality and are committed to achieving results for our clients whilst providing personalised care, with your safety, privacy and comfort at the forefront of all work.

Abdominoplasty is only claimable on both Medicare and your private hospital insurance for weight loss.  To meet the criteria a patient must have lost five BMI points (not including partum weight) and remained stable at this weight for at least 6 months. All other indicators (post partum back pain, urinary incontinence, aesthetics) are therefore considered cosmetic surgery and will not attract a Medicare or health fund benefit and will be subject to GST.  Hernias repaired as part of a cosmetic surgery forgo a Medicare rebate.

Fees include Dr Taylor Surgeons fee, Anaesthetist fee, Theatre and the Overnight Stay in Hospital costs, starting from $20,000.

Medicare rebatable (weight loss) patients with eligible health fund cover, fees start from $12,000.

To receive a formal quote you are required to have a consultation with Dr Taylor. The quote for the cost of your surgery is valid for 3 months. Some fees may not be included in this quote, including medications, pathology, physiotherapy and costs arising from any complications. Further information will be provided to you during your consultation.

Dr Taylor’s fee includes:

  • All pre and post operative care for up to 6 months
  • Access to our 24 hours support line
  • Pre-surgery appointment with Dr Taylor’s nurse
  • Pre-surgery kit (information, vitamins, herbal products, surgical bag)
  • Post Surgical Kit (information, products to aid recovery)
  • Scar Management Program
  • One Surgical Garment

ANY SURGICAL OR INVASIVE PROCEDURE CARRIES RISKS. BEFORE PROCEEDING, YOU SHOULD SEEK A SECOND OPINION FROM AN APPROPRIATELY QUALIFIED HEALTH PRACTITIONER (EG. YOUR GP).

Dr Taylor will discuss the general and specific risks during your consultation, where you can ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have. Is it important that you have enough information to weigh up the benefits, risks and limitations of your surgery. You will also be provided with more information to take home and read, and discuss with your family or loved ones.

Risks specifically associated with abdominoplasty surgery may include:

  • Difficulty in bending forward due to the tightened skin. Other movements may also feel constrained. As this surgery is difficult to recover from we also offer our patients access to professional physiotherapy sessions which will get you back upright and on your feet as quickly as possible.
  • Poor scarring can be a problem with abdominoplasty. This is a long wound. All efforts are made to avoid scar problems but they can occur. Scar management is a part of our support we offer to our patients.
  • Asymmetry All attempts are made to achieve a symmetrical result from one side to the other, but there may be some residual asymmetry after healing has taken place. This often settles with time, but if it is still present at six months, further surgery can be required to remove this prominence. Small ‘dog ears’ can be removed under local anaesthetic, but larger ones will need a trip to the operating theatre, as a day-only admission.
  • Seroma is a collection of serum, the thin straw coloured fluid that the body exudes when healing wounds. Preventing a seroma means making the skin flap and muscle wall heal together as fast as possible to minimise the space between. To this end, suction drains are used in the cavity to drain excess serum as it forms and a pressure garment is used around the abdomen to press the two layers together.

Some general risks and complications of surgery may include:

  • Risks associated with general anaesthesia, including nausea. Anti-nausea medication will be administered during the operation, and as required during your recovery. Your anaesthetist will discuss specific risks related to anaesthesia with you further.
  • Pain, bruising and swelling around the incisions and operated site(s). Pain relief will be administered and steps taken to reduce bruising and swelling, including how you can manage this yourself.
  • Heavy bleeding from an operated site. In the unlikely event that blood loss during surgery has been large, a transfusion may be needed. Steps are taken during your procedure to limit bleeding. You may also be asked to reduce or stop certain medications leading up to your surgery.
  • Infection that may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery in some cases. Antibiotics are administered during the operation to prevent this as much as possible, and wound care instructions provided before your discharge.
  • Allergic reaction to sutures, dressings, antiseptic solutions, or medications. Please notify Dr Taylor and the nursing staff of any known allergies that you may have.
  • The formation of a large blood clot, or haematoma, an accumulation of blood around the surgical site that may require drainage. It is rare that a clot can move to the lungs and become life threatening.
  • Keloids and hypertrophic scars that are raised, red and thickened scars that may form over the healed incisions. These may be itchy, annoying and unsightly but are not a threat to health.
  • Slow healing (often related to smoking or diabetes), separation of wound edges or areas of skin that do not heal and may require a skin graft.
  • Numbness around operated sites. While numbness typically subsides slowly over several months, some numbness may be permanent.

To help you prepare for your surgery and enhance your recovery, we offer you a pre-surgery program to start 4 to 6 weeks prior to your surgery. This includes taking a multivitamin to aid recovery and get you back on your feet faster.  We also recommend an effective herbal medication to reduce the bruising and swelling associated with your surgery. You will also need to stop certain medications leading up to your surgery and we recommend ceasing smoking six weeks prior.

Planning for your surgery and your recovery in advance is vital. Understanding what you can and cannot do will ensure you are not put in a position where you put yourself or the success of your surgery at risk.  All this will depend on your personal situation.

Dr Taylor insists you refrain from any major or minor physical duties and take three weeks off work. You will be provided with a discreet medical certificate to accommodate any time required off work.

On discharge from Sole’vita Surgery we recommend:

  • You have someone drive you home.
  • You have someone with you for the first day at home.
  • Do not drive a car for five days postoperatively.
  • Ensure you can rest for three weeks, getting as much sleep as possible.
  • Do not undertake activities including physical exercise, contact sport or sexual activities for six weeks post surgery.
  • Do not leave Canberra prior to staples or sutures being removed.
  • Do not fly internationally during the six week postoperative period.

After your operation, you will have a catheter, patient controlled analgesia (PCA) machine, and drains. The catheter and PCA are removed on day two, and the drains are removed on the day of discharge.

On return from theatre, you will be placed in a very tight fitting compression garment. This garment is worn 24 hours a day (excluding showering) for the first two weeks and then during the day for another 4 weeks.

Extensive surgery bruising and swelling are to be expected. The liposuction component of the surgery will cause the most discomfort and often patients describe the straightening up process like a ‘Chinese burn’. It is for this reason we recommend a prolonged hospital stay. After your PCA is removed, taking regular oral pain medication can assist you to be more comfortable.

Dr Taylor will make hospital visits every day to manage your recovery. You may require up to 3 days stay in hospital. Discharge planning will include wound care and management of your dressings, prescriptions for medications, and follow up appointments.

You are encouraged to take a minimum of 3 weeks off work and plan not to be back to normal routine and activity for at least 6 weeks.

Two weeks after your surgery, you will come to Sole’vita Surgery to have your sutures removed and your wounds checked by one of our nurses. You will have follow up appointments with Dr Taylor at both the 6 week and 6 month stage of your journey.

Working with MoveHappy Healthcare physiotherapy, we have introduced the ‘Early Intervention Program.’ This program allows you to straighten up faster, decrease pain, and generally feel more in control of your recovery. Patients are offered this program as an option for their speedy recovery.

Book Your Personal Consultation with Dr Taylor

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