Abdominoplasty. Heard of it?
It’s likely you have, but perhaps by the name ‘Tummy Tuck’ – a sought-after procedure that’s often seen as a quick-fix for weight loss and the answer to the toned stomach we all thrive for.
But is a tummy tuck really a quick fix for an overnight JLo bod? I mean, how many sit-ups do I have to do to swap the six pack of drinks to a sick pack of muscle? Turns out sit-ups are only scraping the surface, which led me to question the pros: if not for weight loss, what’s the point of a tummy tuck and is it actually going to transform my tum to toned?
I went straight to the scalpel source, Dr Matthew Peters of Valley Plastic Surgery and asked all the q’s we’ve all likely thought but never had the guts (so to speak) to ask. Take a seat, calm your gut feelings and learn a thing or two with me.
Dr Peters, thank you for your time! To get us started, what is abdominoplasty?
Abdominoplasty – commonly known as a ‘tummy tuck’ – is a surgical procedure that aims to correct both aesthetic and functional issues patients may have with the skin and muscles of their abdominal wall.
What are the main reasons people request this procedure?
Pregnancy or massive weight loss can result in major changes to the look and function of the area in question. Loose skin can be difficult to manage with clothing and exercise and can result in rashes in skin folds during the warmer months. Muscle separation secondary to pregnancy can result in a loss of core strength, low back pain and stress incontinence, in addition to a ‘bulge’ appearance that can result in social discomfort. Removing the excess skin and repairing the muscles overcomes these concerns.
Do people want the procedure for cosmetic purposes or medical?
It’s a mixture of both. By removing the troublesome skin and repairing the muscle separation, we see both an improvement in any preceding medical concerns (rashes, low back pain, stress incontinence), as well as an improved cosmetic appearance of the area.
Besides post-pregnancy concerns, what medical reasons do clients address with this procedure?
Rashes in skin folds are the most common presenting concern. These tend to happen in the warmer months but can also be a constant concern due to clothing irritation. Low back pain and stress incontinence are other less common presenting medical reasons, however research has shown these can improve after this procedure.
What’s the surgical process like?
The procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic in a fully accredited hospital. Pre-operative planning is confirmed, and surgical removal of the excess skin and repair of the muscle wall is performed. The umbilicus (belly button) is repositioned, often with a smaller and shorter appearance and length. Total operative time is usually around two hours while time in hospital can be anywhere up to five days, depending on the patient’s recovery progress.
And what about post-surgery recovery?
A big part of the recovery process is in the planning. Being an elective operation, knowing what you can and can’t do after an operation means we can plan it well. Progressive re-introduction of activity over the first three weeks results in most patients being able to return to their usual work or home duties. Exercise can take longer, especially activities that rely on the core abdominal muscles. Compression garments are part of the process and have to be worn for at least the first six weeks!
What’s the most common concern patients associate with the procedure?
Post-operative pain as well as ability to walk and undertake usual activities, including driving. Most of my patients are very active people with many responsibilities – good pre-operative instructions and subsequent ‘life’ planning help minimise any issues that might arise.
So, how much of a difference can this procedure actually make? Would you consider it life changing?
This is one of the most satisfying procedures that I do, due to the change it can make to my patient’s overall wellbeing. Everyone seems amazed by the fact that they can start to wear tops they can tuck into their pants and skirts! The procedure removes skin overhang, resulting in a flat contour across this region, which they love. Improvements in core strength, lower back pain and stress incontinence are the other surprises, as well as how much they appreciate their new, shallower belly button.
For those interested, what would be the next step from here?
Abdominoplasty surgery can be life changing. If you are considering it, you should meet with a qualified FRACS Specialist Plastic Surgeon to discuss your concerns and to see if this procedure will address them.
Thanks to Dr Peters for your time and insight!
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If you think a Abdominoplasty procedure could be for you, consult a professional. All surgery carries risks. Before proceeding you should obtain a second opinion from a suitably qualified surgeon like the team at Valley Plastic Surgery.