Sun 25th Jun 2023
Tummy Tuck, also referred to as Abdominoplasty, is a surgery performed to address concerns that relate to the belly following trauma, pregnancy and/or weight loss. The most common concerns are stretch marks (scars caused by skin that has been forced to stretch too much too quickly), excess skin, excess fatty tissue and weakened separated muscles. Other concerns may include hernias involving the belly button and significant abdominal wall muscle separation, that can affect posture and result in lower back pain. In addition, individuals can express concerns regarding their pubic area which includes fullness and ptosis (droop). This typically causes difficulties with tight fitting clothing and hygiene issues.
The common concerns of a patient that is seeking an abdominoplasty include the following:
Excess skin, skin folds, and overhang (including low-hanging pubic regions) are major functional issues that need medical attention. Many of these cause sweating, rashes, and hygiene issues.
Muscle separation not only causes a fuller abdominal girth, but it also causes:
The term Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) is a term that encompasses any operation that reconstructs the abdominal wall. This is because the degree of abdominal concerns one has, will dictate the type of Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) that is necessary.
The different names applied to the different Tummy Tucks typically relates to the surgical scars created. Common names include:
Each of these various Tummy Tucks can be performed with or without muscle tightening to repair any existing diastasis recti.
The amount of excess skin and acceptance of additional scarring will determine what type of Tummy Tuck you’ll best be served having.
Unfortunately, scarring is an inevitable part of surgery, and the scars will never completely disappear. So, you will have to decide whether you are prepared to accept more scars to allow for more excess skin removal, or less scars for less excess skin removal.
Below are the most common Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) procedures, with an explanation of what they are, who they’re for, and the benefits of each type.
The Mini Tummy Tuck is only suitable for those few women who have a little bit of loose skin in the lower abdominal area – just above the pubic level. The scar is often not much larger that a caesarean scar and the belly button is not “moved”. It’s typically a day surgery procedure and usually not associated with any muscle tightening.
Benefits of a Mini-Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) include:
A traditional Tummy Tuck operation involves addressing all three abdominal wall layers; that is, the skin, fat, and muscle layers. A horizontal incision is made in your lower abdomen. This incision is usually made from hip to hip, just above your pubic region.
The resultant scar will appear under the bikini line and thus can be easily concealed by regular underwear. Another incision is made around the navel to free the navel from the skin and fatty layer.
The skin and fat are lifted from the underlying abdominal muscles to the level of the rib cage. The ‘six-pack’ muscles are usually stitched together from the top to the bottom to surgically tighten them. This helps to realign the ‘six-pack’ muscles and addresses any central hernias. Additionally, tightening these muscles acts like an internal corset, strengthening the abdomen and helping to provide a stronger core. This muscle repair can sometimes help with lower back pain and continence issues. The skin and fat layers are then stretched down, and the excess skin and fat are removed from the lower abdomen. If required, the pubic area is lifted at the same time. Finally, a new opening is made for the navel, and it is stitched into position.
Whilst these above Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) options will be an ideal choice for most patients, with the ever-increasing number of people undergoing life altering massive weight loss, different options were necessary to reconstruct their bodies.
As such, the Open Book Tummy Tuck™ (Abdominoplasty) was an operation born out of necessity. Dr Dona coined the term “Open Book” based on how the abdominal wall appears halfway through the operation – the skin and fatty layers are opened like a book before being closed into its reconstructed form.
As is explained by Dr Dona, “when someone loses a massive amount of weight, they become, fitter, healthier and smaller – unfortunately the skin has a limited amount of elasticity and is unable to shrink-wrap around the smaller body.”
The Open Book Tummy Tuck™ allows for a greater amount of excess skin to be removed in areas that other abdominoplasty techniques do not allow.
If you’ve got some stubborn fat pockets that just won’t budge, and no/minimal excess skin, liposuction alone may be a more suitable option for you.
On the other hand, if you have concerns with loose/stretched skin from weight loss or other issues on your lower belly, a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) might be an option worth considering to address your concerns. This is also the case if you have significant muscle separation issues (diastasis recti).
Typically, it’s men or women who’ve shed a significant amount of weight or post-pregnancy women that opt for this procedure.
The ideal candidates are those who have realistic expectations and understand the recovery required and potential complications.
Every operation comes brings benefits, but they also come with risks. It’s important that you weigh up these issues to determine if the potential benefits far outweigh any potential risks. It is always important to talk to a suitably qualified healthcare professional about the potential side effects of any medical procedure.
Like every surgical procedure, Tummy Tucks do come with potential complications. This includes general complications such as: bleeding; infection; having a bad reaction to the anaesthesia; allergic reactions; blood clots; stroke; death.
Other potential issues include but are not limited to:
The wounds are larger with a more complex Tummy Tuck surgery (especially in the case of an open-book surgery) than with surgeries with smaller incisions. In these operations the areas at greatest risk of wound issues are at the bottom and top of the midline scar, where it meets the horizontal scar. That’s the region where you have the highest level of tension and the least blood supply.
Some operations come with a greater risk of complications, and some individuals are at greater risk of complications. If you fit any of the following profiles, you are at greatest risk of complications:
One needs to consider all these factors before surgery.
During your first visit, be ready for the following:
Before undergoing a Tummy Tuck procedure, you also need to be ready for the following:
Dr Eddy Dona has been a specialist plastic surgeon since 2007, and is a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. From your first clinic visit, and throughout your surgical journey, Dr Dona and his team will be there to make it as smooth as possible.
Get in touch with our clinic to request a consultation with Dr Eddy Dona
Dr Eddy Dona (FRACS) is a Specialist Plastic Surgeons in Sydney, and a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Following his medical degree at the University of Sydney in 1996, Dr Dona then began a further 11 years of intensive training to become a Specialist Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon.
Since starting private practice in 2007, Dr Dona has had patients from all over Australia seeking his expertise and specialist management. Dr Dona’s practice has grown and become heavily focused on breast and body reconstructive procedures, especially after massive weight loss including post-pregnancy.
Despite running a busy private practice, Dr Dona spent the first 15 years of his specialist practice dedicating part of his time to one of Sydney’s largest teaching public hospitals, including training future plastic surgeons. This was where Dr Dona was often required to reconstruct the bodies of those affected by trauma and cancer.