In 2016 the government had a major overhaul of the Medicare schedule removing any procedures that were seen as purely cosmetic. This included abdominoplasty for postpartum women for whom it was decided that there was no medical proof that an abdominoplasty was for reconstructive or functional purposes. However, this is not true at all. Abdominoplasty is just as necessary for women who have been through childbirth than for massive weight loss patients needing excess skin removal for whom the Medicare cover is still available. In fact, we here at the Hub were so riled up by these changes excluding postpartem mothers that at the end of 2016 we prepared a petition that was signed by over 3,000 of you that was basically ignored by our government. However, in an exciting development, respected Canberra plastic surgeon Alastair Taylor has released a study with extensive research that proves the importance of an abdominoplasty to some women after childbirth, and he wants the government to pay attention.
Proof is in the Research
Dr Taylor’s study is the first of its kind in the world and included 214 women. Of these, 20% suffered chronic back pain post pregnancy (this translates to 1.7 million Australian women) and 35% of them suffered from urinary stress incontinence after having children (that amounts to around 3.2 million Australian women). After undergoing an abdominoplasty participants reported an 85% improvement in back pain and a 73% improvement in stress incontinence. What the government has failed to take into consideration is that abdominoplasty repairs the abdominal muscle separation that often happens after pregnancy which not only leads to incontinence but a loss of core strength leading to several other issues.
Women and mothers once again left behind
We think it’s just another example of where women and mothers in particular are left behind when it comes to being taken care of by a government that wholeheartedly supports it’s sportsmen and women with several procedures relating to chronic pain and instability incurred by sports injuries, yet does not provide relief for women already under a massive amount of stress to return to the workforce as soon as possible after giving birth. It seems once again, the men are making the decisions for the women without understanding the consequences.
Here’s some patient real stories about their abdominoplasties and how they’ve changed their lives:
Dr Taylor says he hates seeing patients, often referred to him by physiotherapists, who can’t afford the $20,000 abdominoplasty surgery so are forced into debt. But without the surgery these women will be compromising their quality of life. Dr Taylor agrees. In his interview with the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday he says, “These conditions impact negatively on quality of life. Back pain can make it difficult to lift a child, do up a child car seat or even sit for a period of time. Incontinence can be distressing with women usually experiencing leakage exercising, laughing, coughing or sneezing.”
Dr Taylor continues his concern on his website saying, “Incontinence can be distressing. In its mildest form there is urgency – when you have to go, you have to go. Women usually experience leakage on a trampoline, doing star jumps, or laughing, coughing or sneezing. Constant trips to the toilet to ensure the bladder never gets too full is the usual coping strategy.”
Dr Taylor’s research has just been published in the US journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and he has the full support of both the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons who just released this article, along with all the major news outlets in Australia also covering the story. Dr Taylor along with thousands of women around Australia hope this is just the push the Australian government needs to start looking after our mothers again.
We hope so too.