Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
What is an abdominoplasty?
An abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure designed to remove excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen and/or to tighten the abdominal muscles.
This procedure can be performed for aesthetic (cosmetic) purposes or for medical/functional reasons, the latter being dependent on strict Medicare eligibility criteria.
When is abdominoplasty desirable?
You may wish to have an abdominoplasty if your abdomen is affected by obesity, skin laxity following weight loss, muscle repair following pregnancy, or scars from previous surgery. The overall body appearance is improved by reducing and recontouring abdominal skin and fat.
It is not a substitute for weight reduction, nor intended to correct obesity.
How would an abdominoplasty procedure help me?
A consultation with your Specialist Plastic Surgeon is the first step in considering an abdominoplasty. You should frankly discuss your goals and expectations, and your plastic surgeon will explain to you whether this operation is right for you. Suction lipectomy may be advised in addition to (or instead of) an abdominoplasty. You should always keep in mind that the desired result is improvement, not perfection.
How important are psychological factors in relation to an abdominoplasty procedure?
Emotional stability is a primary factor to be considered before any aesthetic surgery is performed. A “new body” does not guarantee a new life or an end to all personal problems. It is mostly the mental attitude of the individual that determines a successful outcome. Abdominoplasty surgery can improve your appearance and renew your self-confidence; the rest is entirely up to you.
How is abdominoplasty surgery performed?
Excess skin and fat is removed from the lower abdomen and the abdominal muscles tightened. In some patients the navel is repositioned.
The procedure is performed in Perth in a fully-accredited hospital under general anaesthesia. Although in some cases an abdominoplasty can be performed as a day procedure, in most situations you will require a few days convalescence in hospital. Your hospital stay will depend on your general health, the extent of the procedure, and your surgeon’s advice.
Will an abdominoplasty procedure leave any scars?
Although scars are the inevitable results of any surgery, your surgeon will make every effort to make the scars as inconspicuous as possible. In some circumstances the scars can be hidden inside the bikini line where they may be easy to conceal. However scarring is an individual characteristic and can vary from patient to patient.
What results can I expect from an abdominoplasty?
The best results are obtained in patients of near normal weight with some laxity of the abdominal skin or a slight excess of fat or bulging of the abdominal muscles. The result is usually permanent although of course excessive weight changes or future pregnancies may undo some of the benefits of the surgery. Your surgeon is the best person to determine whether your expectations are surgically possible.
When can I resume normal activities following an abdominoplasty?
Returning to your normal activities is an individual matter, but most people return to work within two to four weeks, and to more vigorous exercise after six weeks. Your surgeon may advise the use of a supporting girdle to ensure optimal healing and contour. You will have to wear post-surgical compression garments for up to six weeks to reduce swelling and assist with the healing process.
Following an abdominoplasty, there is often a feeling of tightness in the lower abdomen and there is usually an area of diminished sensation which persists for several months. A collection of fluid may form under the skin and require aspiration. Infection is rare and is treated promptly with antibiotics should it occur.
How much does this procedure cost?
This procedure is not fully covered by Medicare however, you will receive a rebate if you meet the weight loss or muscle repair criteria. Medicare rebates are not available for surgery performed for cosmetic purposes.
For weight loss patients, you will need to meet the below criteria for Medicare item number 30177 to apply:
- there is intertrigo or another skin condition that risks loss of skin integrity and has failed 3 months of conventional (or non-surgical) treatment; and
- the redundant skin and fat interferes with the activities of daily living; and
- the weight has been stable for at least 6 months following significant weight loss, as defined as at least five BMI points or more (on average 15kg or more) unrelated to pregnancy, prior to the procedure.
Documented symptoms of pain and discomfort, and documented failure to respond to non-surgical conservative treatment must all be outlined in your GP referral to us.
For muscle repair after pregnancy patients, the Australian Government announced in the 2022 Federal Budget there will be a new 30175 Medicare item number for muscle separation (diastasis) causing pain. The item number will be available from 1 July 2022 and you will need to meet the below criteria to apply:
- it is more than 12 months after the end of a pregnancy; and
- you have a diastasis (muscle gap) of at least 3cm measured by diagnostic imaging; and
- have documented symptoms of at least moderate severity of pain or discomfort at the site of the diastasis in the abdominal wall during functional use and/or low back pain or urinary symptoms likely due to rectus diastasis; and
- have failed to respond to non-surgical conservative treatment including physiotherapy (acceptable examples of conservative non-surgical treatment include symptomatic management with pain medication, lower back braces, lifestyle changes, physiotherapy and/or exercise).
Please note the 30175 item number is applicable once per lifetime. Diagnostic imaging, documented symptoms of pain and discomfort, and documented failure to respond to non-surgical conservative treatment must all be outlined in your GP referral to us.
Please contact us online or call us on (08) 9380 0333 and one of our medical secretaries can provide you with more information. Please note that pricing does vary from case to case.
The Australian Foundation for Plastic Surgery (part of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons) is a helpful and reliable source of information online. Their website is an excellent place to research a range of surgical procedures and non-surgical treatments, and view video animations. Click here to visit their website.