Tummy tucks have become one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed by Plastic Surgeons and their popularity continues to grow.
It’s easy to see why – as cosmetic surgery becomes more accessible, men and women are interested in not just the aesthetic benefits a tummy tuck can potentially bring, but the practical benefits – from removing excess skin after weight loss to tightening abdominal muscles that stretch and split during pregnancy.
So if you’ve considered a tummy tuck, what should you expect from the process?
Where to begin?
The first step of course is to book your consultation. Whether you can come straight to your Plastic Surgeon or need to get a GP referral first will depend on whether you can claim the procedure on Medicare.
We get asked a lot about whether patients are eligible for rebates from Medicare and health funds. Tummy tucks are one procedure where this may be possible, just for part of the cost – but it’s only if you’re undertaking the procedure following massive weight loss. To be eligible for Medicare, the Government requires you to meet all of the following key criteria:
- Documented skin conditions, including rashes, as a result of excessive skin unresponsive to medical treatment
- Documented interference with daily activities/life as a direct result of the extra skin/fat
- Stable weight for at least six months following significant weight loss prior to the surgery
- More than 5 BMI points have been lost
If you think that you fit the criteria, you will need to first get a referral from your GP to see a Plastic Surgeon before your consultation with QPS.
The pre-operative consultations
During your consultation, your Plastic Surgeon will want to have a chat to understand what you are trying to achieve – from why you are interested in the procedure to your expectations, as well as having a realistic discussion of the outcome. We suggest bringing your partner of a close family member or friend along in case you forget important details or a question you wanted to ask.
If you require it, or if your Surgeon thinks it might help, you can organise a second consultation for a follow-up chat as well.
Your QPS Consultant
With your Plastic Surgeon covering the medical side of the procedure, your QPS Consultant will meet with you to hold your hand through the logistics. From booking your surgery date to talking you through the paperwork, they are there to support you on this journey and answer any other questions you have.
In the hospital…
With paperwork lodged and the appointment booked, the next step is your procedure! Tummy tuck patients will have a minimum one-night stay in hospital following their operation to allow your surgeon and nurses to monitor you, but you may prefer to have an extra night as well.
Following your procedure, you’ll have surgical drains to remove fluids from your wound. This will be removed by nurses on the day you leave the hospital.
The gory details
Wondering what is actually involved in the abdominoplasty operation? Tummy tucks are an extensive procedure and you will be put under a General Anaesthetic, with the surgery usually taking about two to three hours to perform.
A long incision is made above the pubic area, usually from one hip to the other, with a second incision made around the belly button. The skin is then separated from the abdominal wall all the way up the upper abdomen and excess fat is removed from the area.
The abdominal muscles are then tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them with strong, dissolving sutures. Some people choose to add liposuction to the process to further contour around the waist and pubic area – you can discuss this with your Plastic Surgeon in your initial consultation if you are interested.
Your QPS Surgeon is highly experienced in performing tummy tucks – it is one of the most common procedures that we perform.
After your procedure – your appointments
The day after being discharged from the hospital, you’ll visit our practice to see the QPS nurse and make sure that everything is progressing as expected. If there are any complications or concerns, we’ll organise an appointment so that you can see your Plastic Surgeon for a further check-up.
Following your surgery, you’ll still have dressings over your wound and will be required to wear a compression garment (think corset) to help with your recovery and maximise your results. You’ll continue to see your nurse weekly until the dressings come off and then once more before removing your corset.
The recovery – at home
You should expect to have two to three weeks off work to recover. This time is critical to maximising your results, so make sure you follow the advice of your surgeon and nurse. It goes without saying you won’t be able to do any strenuous activity. Fill up your list on Netflix and prepare to take it easy for a little while!
In the beginning, you will experience numbness below your belly button where you have been operated on. You might also have difficulty standing up straight. This, combined with swelling, will make it difficult to see the results of your operation. Be prepared for it to not look perfect on day one – your body will need some time to heal before you can see the difference.
You will also still be bandaged up at this stage. Expect these to stay on for about four weeks. That garment will also need to be worn for six weeks after your operation and your surgeon will recommend a scar gel that you should use to minimise scarring from the procedure.
Your consultant can speak to you regarding your post-op treatments. LED and Laser Genesis treatments improve post-surgical healing and improve the aesthetic look of the scar.
After about six weeks (depending on the patient), your dressings are removed and the all-clear is given to take off the compression garment and your tummy tuck journey is over! Your results should be close to complete now – enjoy your transformation!