Abdominoplasty, sometimes referred to as a tummy tuck, is performed to improve the shape and contours of the abdomen. The best candidates for a tummy tuck are those who have excess skin and fatty tissue, often due to extreme weight loss. The surgery is also commonly requested by women who have experienced muscle diastasis (stretched abdominal muscles) after pregnancy.
The procedure is a good choice for patients who have achieved a healthy weight but still have an isolated bulge around the middle they have not been able to get rid of through diet and exercise alone. Dr Ritz will evaluate your situation and aesthetic goals to determine whether abdominoplasty is the right choice for you.
During your initial consultation with Dr Ritz, he will discuss the tummy tuck procedure with you in detail. You will be given pre-operative instructions so that you can prepare for your procedure and ensure the best possible outcome. Dr Ritz will cover what happens during the surgery so that you are comfortable and confident about the procedure. Post-operative care is also addressed, ensuring you can plan for your recovery appropriately. Risks and complications will also be discussed, as there are risks associated with any surgery no matter how straightforward or extensive the operation might be. Dr Ritz will make sure you are aware and understand them, even if the likelihood of severe complications is very rare.
This appointment will also provide Dr Ritz with the opportunity to collect pertinent information about you, including your full medical history. He will ask if you have been pregnant in the past, as previous pregnancies could impact the way the procedure is performed. He will use these facts to present all your surgical options so that you can make the right decision about your surgery.
You will have a second consultation about two weeks before your procedure, to discuss the surgery once again and to address any further questions that might have arisen as you have prepared for the operation.
On the day of your tummy tuck surgery, you will be admitted to the hospital where the operation will be performed anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours prior to your procedure. The timing will depend on the policies of the hospital. Dr Ritz will visit with you before your surgery to see if you have any questions and to draw pre-operative markings to guide him during the procedure. The anaesthetist that will be administering your anaesthesia will also meet with you to explain the process to you.
Abdominoplasty is performed under general anaesthesia. Incisions are placed low on the abdomen, inside the panty line, which helps conceal any scarring afterwards. For a full tummy tuck, the incision will extend from hipbone to hipbone. Through the incision, Dr Ritz will remove excess skin and fatty tissue to create smoother midsection contours. Liposuction is often used during the tummy tuck to provide additional sculpting and ensure the best possible results. If muscle diastasis has occurred, the muscles will also be repaired, creating stronger internal structures.
Dr Ritz will then close the incision, placing drainage tubes to remove any excess fluid after surgery. From there, you will be moved into recovery.
You will remain in the hospital for two to three days after your surgery so that you can be cared for by attentive nursing staff in the early days. The drainage tubes will remain in place for 48 hours and removed before you go home. Once the drains are gone, you will be given a compression garment that will help reduce swelling and promote healing. You will wear this garment underneath your clothing full-time for six weeks.
You will be unable to drive for the first two weeks after your tummy tuck, in part because of the medication you will likely be taking to keep you comfortable during those first few days of recovery. You will likely be able to resume most light activities within two to three weeks. However, physical activity that involves heavy lifting or other strenuous exercise will be limited for the first six weeks to give the midsection ample time to heal. It’s highly recommended that you get clearance from Dr Ritz before your resume your usual exercise routine or return to your physically demanding job.
During your recovery, it’s essential that you wear your compression garment, stay hydrated and get as much rest as possible. It helps to sleep in an inclined position as this will reduce any pressure on the abdominal area. Large pillows can provide you with the right support during the night while you’re sleeping.
During abdominal liposuction, the fat that is found above the stomach muscles and under the skin is removed using a cannula. This means that any loose skin and muscle-related issues won’t be addressed. Abdominal liposuction is better suited to patients who already have good abdominal muscle tone and want to get rid of stubborn pockets of fat with minimal scarring. Tummy tucks, on the other hand, address excess fat, loose skin and muscle diastasis. Once the excess fat has been extracted, a section of skin will be removed from the lower abdomen and the belly button will be relocated. As you can imagine, a tummy tuck results in more scarring since the procedure is more invasive. Recovery will also be more extensive after a tummy tuck.
Abdominoplasty typically takes around three hours to complete, depending on the amount of correction needed and whether other surgeries will be performed at the same time. Dr Ritz will be able to give you a more precise estimate after your consultations and examination.
Tummy tucks are not usually done as day surgeries due to the extensive nature of the procedure. You will be much more comfortable in the hospital for the first two to three days, where you will be cared for by full-time nursing staff. Once your drainage tubes are removed and you can get up and move around on your own, you can head home to finish your recovery process.
I advise patients to take at least two weeks off for their recovery. The specific time will depend on how quickly your body heals and the type of work you do. Desk work can usually be resumed within this timeframe, while more strenuous activities will require additional recuperation time.
Patients are usually able to drive within two weeks, once they are off any pain medication and can be more mobile.
Light exercise, such as gentle walking, can usually begin within two to three weeks after a tummy tuck. More strenuous exercise, particularly activities that involve heavy lifting, should be avoided for at least six weeks. Dr Ritz will advise you more specifically based on your unique situation and based on how quickly your body heals.
Unfortunately, scars are an inevitable part of this procedure and they will eventually fade, especially if you care for the wounds correctly right from the start. Preventing infection and inflammation is essential if you want to avoid scarring. Thereafter, protecting the skin on your abdomen from the sun and applying a high-quality topical vitamin E cream to the area can also help reduce the appearance of scars.
This will all depend on how much work needs to be done, whether or not the tummy tuck will be paired with additional procedures and what type of anaesthetic will need to be used. The best way to get a more accurate idea of cost is to schedule a consultation with Dr Ritz.
In some cases, coverage may be available for abdominoplasty. However, Medicare has changed their guidelines and eligibility for the abdominoplasty item number, which means not everyone will be covered. Contact our office directly and we would be happy to discuss your coverage eligibility with you. To get more information about abdominoplasty, contact Dr Ritz’s office today on 03 9508 9503.
For most patients, the results of a tummy tuck will be very long-lasting. However, weight gain and pregnancy can alter the results of this procedure. Dr Ritz usually advises patients to finish having children and obtain a healthy weight before considering abdominoplasty to ensure these factors don’t affect the longevity of the results.
Wound healing issues, fluid build-up, scar asymmetry and numbness are some of the side effects of this procedure but they are rare and if they do occur, they tend to be minor. Excessive bleeding and infection can also occur but this is only if all post-operative instructions are not followed correctly.