What is a Tummy Tuck? – Abdominoplasty Explained

Tummy Tuck |  Dr Eddy Dona

Tue 6th Apr 2021

Abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a tummy tuck, is one of the most common plastic surgical procedures that women enquire about and request to have surgery for. The tummy tuck procedure is designed first and foremost to remove excess overhanging skin around the stomach, typically experienced after massive weight changes. These weight changes are most often caused by significant weight loss or going through multiple pregnancies which causes the skin around the stomach to get stretched significantly. Abdominoplasty surgery also does come with extra added benefits as discussed throughout this article.

After going through significant physiological changes such as pregnancy or major weight loss you may find that your skin, which represents your former self, or rather the “clothing” that used to fit you, is way too big for your body! This is the most simplistic way of viewing things. Your skin represents your older self or an older dress or outfit that you used to wear. Now your body is much smaller and healthier but you’re still wearing that old dress. So basically you need a tailor, that being the surgeon, to tailor your skin to suit your new body.

With any tailoring, you need to have seams, and the seams in surgery are the scars. The scar for a tummy tuck is typically hidden low down on your belly and concealed within normal underwear. Some people are concerned about the appearance of a scar and say they don’t want a scar. However, my response to this is simple. Stretch marks are scars, and you have multiple stretch marks and associated excess skin along your entire lower abdomen in an area that you can’t hide. We are going to remove all (or most of) those with one very controlled linear scar that will be comfortably hidden by regular underwear – what would you rather?

With pregnancy, these changes are mostly confined to the front of your belly. However, for those who have undergone massive weight loss, then the skin excess often involves the entire body – front, sides and back – and often other areas such as chest, arms and thighs. So in this case the surgery is a little more involved in these situations and basically customised for each individual to address their specific concerns.

Why Do People Get Tummy Tucks?

One of the most common reasons why someone would want an abdominoplasty is often due to the changes that have occurred during pregnancy. Some of these changes include loose or excess skin, excess fatty tissue and to a lesser degree, weakened or separated abdominal wall muscles. 

 

Stretch Marks & Abdominal Scar Removal 

During pregnancy, the abdominal wall is forced to stretch quicker than the skin can naturally expand, often causing the skin to tear, and leading to the development of stretch marks. Stretch marks are basically scars, and like all scars, they initially appear red and as they mature, fade to a lighter, more pale colour.

Many women develop these stretch marks during the first pregnancy, as this is often when their body undergoes the most significant changes. With that said, many women will put on a small amount of weight and still get stretch marks, whilst others put on an enormous amount of weight and do not get stretch marks. Many factors contribute to this, one important factor is our genetic makeup which often determines the likelihood of who will and won’t get stretch marks.

After pregnancy and or massive weight loss, your body shrinks down. You’ve lost weight, you’re healthy, you’re fit, but you look in the mirror you don’t like what you see. The skin, especially skin with stretch marks, has lost its elasticity and is not going to contract to tighten up around your smaller body.

During your tummy tuck procedure, most of these stretch marks or any other scars from previous abdominal surgery will be completely removed along with the excess skin around your stomach.

 

Abdominal Wall Muscle Tightening – Diastasis Recti Correction 

Diastasis is the horizontal separation of the abdominal muscles. During pregnancy, the rectus muscles are pushed apart as the stomach expands. A very standard part of an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) procedure is tightening the abdominal muscles by pulling back the stretched apart muscles with stitches to hold them in place. Tightening the six-pack muscles also serves to help further flatten the stomach and tighten the waistline from a tummy suck procedure.

 

Hernia Repair

Abdominal hernias are extremely common and can be caused by anything that increases the pressure on the abdomen, something as lifting heavy objects without stabilising the abdominal muscles can cause an abdominal hernia. Unfortunately, extra-abdominal weight from pregnancy or having a large amount of fat around the abdomen significantly increase the risk of developing a hernia. These hernias can be quite uncomfortable and have the potential to cause debilitating pain. 

The good news is that these abdominal wall hernias are simple to correct during a tummy tuck procedure, Dr Dona ensures that he corrects any hernias that he finds during surgery. You would be surprised by the number of small hernias that have needed to be corrected during surgery without being noticed beforehand. 

Quite often we are asked if it is better to get a hernia corrected before tummy tuck surgery. If you are considering having tummy tuck surgery and experience issues with abdominal wall hernias it is important to leave the hernia so that it can be corrected during your tummy tuck surgery. This is because most general surgeons repair hernias in a way that can potentially impact the belly button’s survival from its repositioning during a tummy tuck. An added advantage of having your abdominal hernia repaired during your tummy tuck only requires downtime for one procedure instead of two.

If you have any other questions regarding tummy tuck surgery or would like to book a consultation with Dr Dona, please email [email protected] or give us a call on 1300 373 662 and one of our team members will be happy to answer any further questions that you may have.