A tummy tuck, otherwise known as an abdominoplasty, is a procedure most often undertaken by women after having children, or after massive weight loss. Either of these circumstances often leaves you with excess skin that can only be removed via surgery. In the case of women after childbirth it can also help repair muscle separation and improve bladder weakness. There are a few things to know about tummy tucks if you are considering having the surgery and with the help of Dr Mark Edinburg, one of Sydney’s leading Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeons. Here is a list of Tummy Tucks – The Facts.
1. There is more than one tummy tuck procedure
A tummy tuck procedure is not just a one size fits all procedure. There are different techniques depending on what your individual requirements are. A full tummy tuck or abdominoplasty will remove excess skin and fat. This will help to flatten the abdominal line and I will also repair muscle separation, if present (often necessary after childbirth). To explain in more detail about what is involved in this procedure we asked Dr Edinburg. He said, “During full tummy tuck surgery, an incision is made from hip to hip above the pubic area, within the ‘bikini line’. Abdominal muscles and their connective tissue (fascia) are tightened. Liposuction may be used to remove fat and refine the contours, and excess skin is removed. The navel may need to be repositioned and then the area is stitched closed.”
All abdominoplasties are different, just as all patients are different. There are also surgeries called mini abdominoplasty and another called reverse abdominoplasty, amongst other surgical choices. So, as you can see, this type of surgery can, and should be, tailored to your specific needs. “It is my job to advise you about the most appropriate solution for your needs”, says Dr Edinburg.
All tummy tuck procedures can be combined with liposuction to remove any unwanted fat if required. Combined with the removal and tightening of your skin, this will create better contours. Liposuction is most frequently used in the hips and flank area when combined with abdominoplasty.
2. You should be at, or almost at, your goal weight before having tummy tuck surgery
A tummy tuck is not to be used as a weight loss procedure. Any good surgeon will recommend you don’t have the surgery until you are at, or almost at, your goal weight before having the surgery. They will even suggest you have maintained that weight for at least a few months if not more (some surgeons will insist you’ve been at a stable weight for at least a year). Liposuction can get rid of some stubborn fatty areas, however only so much fat can be removed during the liposuction procedure and it’s more about creating contours than removing large amounts of fat.
3. A tummy tuck procedure will leave scars
The payoff for tummy tuck surgery is that you will have scars. This is definitely where the skill of the surgeon comes in. The more experienced and skilled the surgeon, hopefully the better and more inconspicuous the scars will be. They are usually located within your bikini line. Dr Edinburg says minimising scarring is one of his greatest considerations as a surgeon when performing the tummy tuck procedure. He says, “My many years of training as a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, combined with my years of experience in this field, allow me to apply every principle and technique available to ensure the best outcome, including that of scars. I also educate my patients to come along with me on this journey- a healthy body will assist your healing, and sensible following of postoperative instructions are an essential in contributing to your success. In the end, there will always be a scarline, which improves over time, and is as neat and hidden in the natural lines and folds in the skin, as is possible. I don’t think I have ever operated on a patient who did not think that the trade-off of a scar for a flat sleeker abdomen was worth it!”
4. A tummy tuck has a recovery period of at least a few weeks
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a serious procedure and is not purely cosmetic. There is usually some form of muscle repair involved, and this combined with the larger incisions required for this type of surgery means recovery takes a few weeks. Dr Edinburg says, “Recovery normally takes a few weeks, with a full return to physical activities in 6 weeks or so. It is important that you rest during this time to allow your body to heal and recover effectively. Because you will have stitches, it is important not to exert yourself or move around more than you need to for the first couple of weeks. In my practice, I ask the hospital nurses to assist you in mobilising the day after your surgery. The it is a steady, slow and safe increasing of activities, until you can be back at work in 3-4 weeks for most patients. Everyone receives an individualised treatment plan as each patient’s surgery differs slightly from every other patient. You will be kept fully informed and guided, and have help from myself and my team from Day 1”
You should expect to have drainage tubes, some bruising and swelling, some pain, tightness, “tugging”, and discomfort, and an inability to stand up straight for at least a few days after the surgery. Dr Edinburg says he may offer you a compression garment to wear for those first few weeks.
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, whist a serious operation, can often be your only option to assist with weak or separated abdominal muscles to help with pain or bladder function, remove excess skin to help with appearance or repeated infections and to create shape and contour.
To find out more you can contact Dr Mark Edinburg and his team on (02) 8814 5800.