Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

What is an abdominoplasty?

An abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure our Specialist Plastic Surgeons perform in Perth 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.

What factors may influence the decision to have an abdominoplasty?

You may wish to have an abdominoplasty if your abdomen is affected by mild obesity, skin laxity following weight loss, muscle repair following pregnancy, or scars from previous surgery or trauma.

Abdominoplasty should not be considered as a replacement for weight loss or a suitable exercise regimen. It is important to note that although the procedure’s results are technically long-lasting, significant fluctuations in weight can significantly reduce the positive outcome. Therefore, if you are planning to become pregnant, you may wish to consider delaying the surgery, as the results may be compromised or lost as a result.

Is an abdominoplasty right for 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.

How is abdominoplasty surgery performed?

There are currently several techniques for abdominoplasty surgery. They all aim to remove excess tissue, fat and skin from the lower abdomen. The procedure may also include the tightening and repair of abdominal muscles following pregnancy. In some patients, the navel is repositioned. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will take your physical condition and requirements into consideration, and will determine which technique would be best for you.

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.

Are there any risks and complications of abdominoplasty surgery?

All plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures come with risks and potential complications. To ensure successful surgery, it is crucial to understand and minimise these risks. Whilst all measures are taken to mitigate risks, some risks are unavoidable.

All information on this page is general in nature – your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will discuss the specific risks and complications pertinent to your individual surgical procedure during your consultation. General risks for surgery are listed here.

Specific risks related to abdominoplasty surgery include, but are not limited to:

  • Fat necrosis: This is a rare complication that can occur when fatty tissue dies. It can cause hard lumps under the skin, but it is usually not a serious problem.
  • Restricted movement: Tightened skin after abdominoplasty can make bending forward and certain movements more challenging.
  • Skin graft: There is a risk of skin that does not heal and may require a skin graft. This risk is rare, but it is important to be aware of it before undergoing surgery.
  • Blood loss: In rare cases of significant blood loss during surgery, a blood transfusion may be necessary.
  • Nausea: Nausea is a common side effect, often caused by anaesthesia, but it typically resolves quickly after surgery.

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. Some patients have a tendency to develop keloid or hypertrophic scars and you should advise your surgeon if you are aware of this tendency in yourself.

What results can I expect from an abdominoplasty?

The best results are obtained in patients whose weight is near their recommended Body Mass Index (BMI) and who have some laxity of the abdominal skin or a slight excess of fat, or bulging of the abdominal muscles. The result is usually permanent although 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.

It is important to note however, that each patient requires adequate time, support, and proper postoperative care to facilitate their recovery process. Due to individual variations in healing abilities and pain tolerance, the duration of recovery and ability to engage in various activities may differ among patients.

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.

Weight loss patients

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.

Muscle repair after pregnancy patients

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.

Where can I find more information?

The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) website 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.