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The ultimate guide to tummy tuck surgery

Tummy tuck surgery helps flatten and tighten your tummy after pregnancy and weight loss. This guide will give you a comprehensive overview and details on tummy tuck and body lift surgery.

Tummy tuck guide content index

First I will describe how I do my tummy tucks, and what the benefits of doing it this way is, and all the supporting peer review articles.

Then we will summarise what a body lift or tummy tuck actually is. Later on we will go through in detail the different options for tummy tuck surgery.

Here is a summary of what we will go though on this page:

Key points in how Dr Beldholm performs his tummy tucks

  • Get rid of loose skin
  • Tighten muscles
  • Reduce fat
  • Reshape the belly button
  • Rejuvenates the mons

Who is suitable for a tummy tuck?

We will then be talking about the groups of patients that a tummy tuck or body lift is suitable for;

  • Post pregnancy
  • Post weight loss
  • Also if you are still a bit overweight and thinking of having a tummy tuck, the modern lipo-abdominoplasty can help

There are many different types of tummy tucks

It can be quite confusing when it comes to tummy tuck surgery as there are so many different terms that are used for it.

There are many different ways of doing a tummy tuck. We will go though what these are, as well as the benefits and negatives of each.

There are many different types of tummy tucks:

  • Mini tummy tuck
  • Standard tummy tuck with re-positioning of the umbilicus
  • Standard tummy tuck with a floated umbilicus
  • Extended tummy tuck
  • Body lift also referred to as belt lipectomy
  • Reverse tummy tuck
  • Fleur de-lie tummy tuck

Different ways of doing the tummy tucks:

  • Standard or traditional tummy tuck
  • Lipo-abdominoplasty
  • Liposuction assisted abdominoplasty
  • VASER assisted tummy tuck
  • 4D VASER Abdominoplasty

Features of my Lipo-abdominoplasty with standard liposuction or with VASER liposculpture

I will provide you with the broad outline of the way that I do my tummy tucks using either VASER liposculpture or Standard liposculpture.

As it can be a bit confronting seeing intra-operative surgical photos and videos, I have created a separate page with much more detail, including operation photos of me performing the operation. Click here to check this page out (Warning this contains photos of Dr Beldholm performing the operation)

Health insurance, MBS item numbers; Can I get my operation covered?

There has been many changes to the Medicare health insurance schedule. Abdominoplasty surgery was restricted in 2015 for post pregnancy mothers. Patients that have lost a lot of weight however are still able to access an item number.

What recovery can I expect after my tummy tuck?

The recovery varies depending on the extent of your tummy tuck. You will recover much quicker from a mini-tummy tuck than you will from a Body lift. We will go through the recovery for each in detail.

Complications after abdominoplasty and body lift surgery

As with any operation there are potential complications that can occur. We will outline them for you here. You will get more detailed information at your consultation with Dr Beldholm.

Peer review journal articles supporting the way that I do things

Finally we have a long list of scientific articles that support the way we approach our tummy tuck surgery.

Key points in how I perform my tummy tucks

“Every surgeon has their own way of approaching the tummy tuck or body lift that they do. Over the last few years I have been performing a lipo-abdominoplasty, that is based on my experience and also extensive research. I’m constantly tweaking and improving small parts of the operation and I hope that this gives my patients the best possible results. Below is an outline of the key points that I feel are important in the tummy tuck that I perform.”

Dr Beldholm

I base my tummy tuck technique on the lipo-abdominoplasty technique described by many prominent plastic surgeons, and adding modifications to this, that I have found improve the results further. Many research reports have demonstrated that the results and complications are far superior to the traditional tummy tuck. Check out the article that I wrote for the Journal of Cosmetic Surgery & Medicine.

Other research in peer review journals also support this approach.

  • Le Louarn C; Pascal JF.” The high-superior-tension technique: evolution of lipoabdominoplasty.“ Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 34(6):773-81, 2010 Dec.
  • Uebel CO. ”Lipoabdominoplasty: revisiting the superior pull-down abdominal flap and new approaches.” Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 33(3):366-76, 2009 May.

The Scar is kept low to easily hide in bikini

After the surgery, a patient’s scars will gradually fade over time. However, my goal is not just to keep the scarring to a minimum, but to also strategically make incisions on the body, so that it’s hard to tell that a patient has had any work performed.

A vertical navel is created

During abdominoplasty, the excess skin is trimmed and the remaining skin is stitched together. After that, a new opening for “an aesthetically pleasing belly button” is created. The umbilical shape and placement is critically important in an abdominoplasty. I also performed a survey of 100 patients in my practice, as to what shape navel they preferred, and the winner was a vertical naval. Check out my presentation at the Cosmetex conference on this point (video below).

Extensive liposuction using either traditional liposuction or VASER liposuction is used to reduce fat and shape the abdomen and sides

I have found since adding liposuction to the my abdominoplasties, it has made a big difference to the results (ref 9,10).

I perform extensive liposuction to help eliminate fat and shape the body. In the last few years I also offer VASER abdominoplasty, both High definition and standard VASER.

Rectus abdominis muscles brought together to give a flat and tight tummy

Most women that come to have their abdominoplasty after pregnancy have separated and stretched tissues. To get a flat tummy the fascia of the abdomen needs to be tightened. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, the underlying weakened abdominal muscles are repaired to give you a stomach that is firm, tight and flat.

Blood flow is preserved to maximise wound healing

By avoiding extensive dissection of the skin and using liposuction and discontinuous dissection, blood vessels are preserved, and there is much better wound healing. Many studies have confirmed this. One study (ref 8) done in high risk patients demonstrated that the traditional tummy tuck had a skin related complication rate of 11.76% vs lipoabdominoplasty which had a complication rate of 4.30%. Another study demonstrated a complication rate for lipoabdominoplasty to be around 1%. Seroma rate was only 0.9% with around 2.4% skin related complications (ref 10).

Rejuvenating the Mons

This is a key area that a lot of women dislike. By doing liposuction in this area as well as lifting it. The mons is placed in a more youthful position.

No drains

One of the key benefits of doing the lipoabdominoplasty is that there is no need for drains. This makes the recovery much easier.

The use of drains is associated with a significant increase in postoperative pain, as well as complications, including retrograde bacterial migration and infection(ref 6,7,11).

Overnight stay in hospital

Even though it is possible to be discharged on the day of the operation (ref 11). I prefer to keep all my patients overnight in Hospital. Most patients find that they are sore in the morning. However, they can have a shower and walk around and usually go home in the afternoon of that day.

Heelite II treatments in the first 2 weeks

To minimise bruising and swelling and to improve healing we provide complimentary treatment with Heelite II (as proven in research). You will usually get six treatments in the first two weeks. I will also normally be able to see you during your treatments so that any issues or problems are picked up quickly (ref 12,13).

This picture shows one of our patients, post inner thigh lift, one week post operatively. She had compression tape covering the left side (without LED treatment). The lower (right side of the photo) had been exposed, so had a full three treatments of LED light. This demonstrates the effectiveness of the 830nm LED light that we use post surgery. Note that individual results vary*

Individual results vary*

Who is suitable for a tummy tuck?

  • Post pregnancy patients
  • After weight loss patients
  • Overweight patients

Post pregnancy tummy tuck explained

Most women will experience major body changes following pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, excess skin around the belly following pregnancy is one of the most common body-related complaints mothers everywhere have, even when they are otherwise thin. Other changes that are common after pregnancy are stretched muscles and hernias. Many mothers that come to Dr Beldholm complain that they still look pregnant even though it has been many years since their pregnancy. Another common complaint is skin hanging over C-section scars. Not only can this be cosmetically displeasing, but the skin can rub and cause discomfort.

Individual results vary*

For many women post pregnancy, they’re surprised by the way their stomach looks after birth. Even after the baby is out, it’s not uncommon for them to have a loose midsection, making them still appear several months pregnant.

For others, childbirth changes their body forever. They are left with that undesirable “muffin top” and those annoying saddlebags. Efforts to eat healthy and exercise regularly can seem hopeless.

If you’re like a lot of mothers, you immediately roll your eyes or feel insecure, when you see a magazine cover featuring a gorgeous Hollywood actress or supermodel, flaunting her flawless body, after recently giving birth. In most cases, you’d never know they’d just had a baby—especially since their body seems to look even better than it did prior to getting pregnant.

The truth is, for most women, pregnancy changes a woman’s body. What you see on the cover of a magazine is not reality. Sure, good genes may have played a small role in a celebrity’s amazing post-pregnancy body. In most cases, though, these celebrities have their cosmetic surgeons and Photoshop, to thank for how their stunning bodies look after pregnancy.

So if your body doesn’t exactly look like Kendra Wilkinson, Heidi Klum or Kourtney Kardashian—don’t feel bad. They’ve had a “little help” more often than not. For example, in 2010, Kourtney Kardashian was featured on the cover of Ok! Magazine after giving birth to her firstborn son.

On the cover she appeared absolutely flawless. Nonetheless, Kourtney was outraged, calling the cover very “doctored.” Even the color of her dress had been changed!

“They doctored and Photoshopped my body to make it look like I have already lost all the weight, which I have not,” she told WWD.

In the re-touched photo, the magazine lopped off Kourtney’s stomach and replaced her face with a slimmer one, to illustrate her speedy weight loss. During pregnancy, she actually gained quite a bit of weight she admitted.

Abdominal separation post pregnancy

Individual results vary*

Pregnancy is, no doubt, a beautiful thing. However, if you’re like a lot of women, it can take a toll on your body—and we’re not just talking about stretch marks or weight gain.

Unfortunately, with pregnancy comes a few other unwanted side effects, too. A big one is diastasis recti, or abdominal separation. It is a pretty common condition for most women who have given birth. In fact, about two-thirds of all mothers experience this condition.

The reason this happens is due to pregnancy putting so much pressure on the stomach. When this occurs, the front muscles are unable to keep their shape. Although, you may not know the technical term for the condition, you likely know its main symptom. It’s responsible for that undesirable “pouch” that a lot of women would definitely rather do without.

Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominis muscle. This muscle covers the front surface of the belly area. This condition is commonly seen in women who have had multiple pregnancies. It is a result of the muscles having been stretched many times.

Extra skin and soft tissue in the front of the abdominal wall may be the only signs of this condition in early pregnancy. In the later part of pregnancy, the top of the pregnant uterus can be seen bulging out of the abdominal wall. An outline of parts of the unborn baby may be seen in some severe cases.

Symptoms

The condition can also cause lower back pain, constipation, and urine leaking. It can even make it harder to breathe and to move normally. While rare, in some extreme cases, the tissue may tear, and organs may poke out of the opening, in turn, creating a hernia.

Correcting the problem non-surgically

With pregnancy-related diastasis recti, the condition often lasts long after the woman gives birth. For some women, if the abdominal separation is not too big, they may decide to simply live with it. Exercise may help improve the condition—but not always.

Dr. Beldholm usually recommends for patients to spend a year or two after pregnancy waiting for the layers to contract and return to normal. To help promote a tighter midsection, performing core exercises such as Pilates can help. After about two years, if the patient still has a lot of separation, it’s very unlikely that this will improve with further exercise or time.

How abdominoplasty can help your diastasis recti

If exercise doesn’t do the trick, surgery can. Abdominoplasty, which is commonly referred to as a tummy tuck, can correct diastasis recti. During a tummy tuck, the abdominal wall is exposed and the fascia properly repaired. It is very unusual for someone to need repair of diastasis but not removal of excess skin. Abdominoplasty removes excess fat and skin while restoring weakened or separated muscles. This surgery creates an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer. For women who desire a flat and well-toned stomach, this procedure can certainly help them achieve that.

Tummy tuck post weight loss

Yes, most of us want to lose weight. But sometimes, even when weight is lost, excess skin and stubborn belly fat remain. Contrary to popular belief, diet and exercise aren’t always enough to slim the waistline – no matter how hard we work at them. Stop blaming yourself. Also if you have had bariatric surgery to lose weight, there is often a lot of loose skin and saggy tissues that remain after the weight loss. Dr Beldholm sees many patients that have had laparoscopic band surgery, as well as sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass operations. Before considering a tummy tuck or body lift surgery you should have a stable weight for six months.

Overweight patients

Individual results vary*

The traditional advice for overweight patients has been to lose weight before considering a tummy tuck. Certainly, if you can lose the weight then your results will be much better from this operation. Tummy tuck surgery is not a weight loss operation. However, if you have lose hanging skin that is causing you discomfort and you are currently overweight, and have had trouble losing the weight, then you may be a candidate for a lipoabdominoplasty. The big benefit with the liposuction based tummy tuck is that a significant amount of fat can be removed with liposuction. There is also research that confirms that this weight is kept off after the surgery as compared to losing the weight on your own (ref 2).

There are many different types of tummy tucks and body lifts

It can be quite confusing reading different websites and information on the internet about all the different tummy tucks and body lift techniques available. To make it easier for you to understand the differences we will try to break it down for you.

There is essentially two main decisions to make

  1. How big does the tummy tuck need to be to address the loose skin and tissues?
  2. What technique is used in doing the tummy tuck?

How big does the tummy tuck need to be to address the loose skin and tissues?

There are many types of tummy tucks and body lift procedures:

  • Mini tummy tuck
  • Standard tummy tuck with a floated umbilicus
  • Standard tummy tuck with re-positioning of the umbilicus
  • Extended tummy tuck
  • Body lift also referred to as belt lipectomy
  • Fleur de-lie tummy tuck
  • Apronectomy
  • Reverse tummy tuck

Of course, as with all cosmetic surgery, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Your case is unique, so you’ll need to consider exactly which type of procedure is right for you. This will depend on exactly how much weight you’ve lost, how much excess skin you have, how stretched your muscles are, and what your personal goals are.
Dr Beldholm can accurately tell you what tummy tuck you need once you have had a consultation (send us an enquiry and we can start the process for you – Click here ).

Mini-tummy tuck

This procedure is quite similar to the full abdominoplasty, with the important difference being that in the case of a mini-tummy tuck there is no need to reposition the navel. It is best for patients with excess skin, mostly below the belly-button, who typically do not have trouble maintaining their goal weight. The procedure is simpler than a full tummy tuck because it only requires one small “C-section like” incision.

Tummy tuck with a floated umbilicus

The next step up from a mini-tummy tuck is the tummy tuck with a floated umbilicus. This just means that the umbilicus is not re-created. The umbilical stalk is cut and the umbilicus is pulled down together with the loose skin. The benefit of this technique is that there is no scar around the belly button. The biggest issue in Dr Beldholm’s experience with this technique, is that the belly button will be pulled down and located in an unnatural position. If you need a bigger operation than a mini-tummy tuck, then the best results are provided by a tummy tuck that re-positions the belly button.

Standard tummy tuck with re-positioning of the umbilicus

This is a good fit for most patients with excess or sagging belly skin. The procedure involves creating a hip-to-hip incision, as well as an incision at the navel. Repair of the abdominal muscles, removal of excess fat, and the repositioning of the skin and navel. In the end, your skin has been pulled down towards your incision line with the excess removed.

Extended tummy tuck

If you have more loose skin that extends toward the back then the incision may need to be a bit longer and extend further. The key here is to avoid what is called “Dog ears”. This is a name for excess skin and fat at the end of the incision line. In most cases it is cosmetically much better to continue the incision to avoid this issue, than to try to make the incision smaller, and end up having to come back for further revisions.

Body lift also referred to as belt lipectomy

Also known as a “belt lipectomy,” the body lift is a good fit for patients who have excess skin not only in their belly areas, but also in the buttocks and thighs. This is essentially three procedures in one: a tummy tuck, waist/lateral thigh lift, and a buttock lift. Since this procedure is more intensive than a tummy tuck alone – the incision must go around the entire lower torso in order to address the posterior (buttocks) as well – it is generally recommended only for those who have extreme excess skin in the thighs and buttocks.

Individual results vary*

A body lift is similar to a tummy tuck as it removes the flap of skin that hangs over the abdomen, and yet different, because it removes excess skin around the lower torso, and lifts up the entire waist, thighs, and butt. You might like to liken the procedure to pulling up a pair of pants from around your thighs. Everything is lifted and tightened into place. The lower part of your body is contoured and all excess skin is removed.

The body lift requires an incision the full way around your lower waist, in the area that will be covered by your underwear line. You will end up with a scar around the circumference, but it can be covered easily, and your cosmetic surgeon will give you the best advice to minimize the noticeability of your scar.

A body lift is a popular and effective procedure to remove all excess skin following a significant amount of weight loss, so that people can look just as good out of clothes as they do while wearing clothes.

Body lifts throughout history

A body lift is similar to a tummy tuck as it removes the flap of skin that hangs over the abdomen, and yet different, because it removes excess skin around the lower torso, and lifts up the entire waist, thighs, and butt. You might like to liken the procedure to pulling up a pair of pants from around your thighs. Everything is lifted and tightened into place. The lower part of your body is contoured and all excess skin is removed.

The body lift requires an incision the full way around your lower waist, in the area that will be covered by your underwear line. You will end up with a scar around the circumference, but it can be covered easily, and your cosmetic surgeon will give you the best advice to minimize the noticeability of your scar.

A body lift is a popular and effective procedure to remove all excess skin following a significant amount of weight loss, so that people can look just as good out of clothes as they do while wearing clothes.

What results can you expect from a body lift?

With a satisfaction rate of 97% on the Real Self forums, the results of a body lift are overwhelmingly a delight for those that undergo the surgery (ref 20).

Following the complete healing of your body lift, you can expect the results to look fairly similar to a healthy individual with your body weight and proportions. The only differences will be a scar around your circumference that will be covered with your underwear band.

This means that if you’re ready to head down to the beach in a bikini, budgie smugglers, or board shorts, then the other beach goers will not be able to tell that you have had a surgery, or even a large amount of weight loss at all!

Fleur de-lis tummy tuck

“Fleur de lis” is a french word that means a is a stylized flower in this tummy tuck it is the pattern of excision of skin that this pattern refers to. If you have had a lot of weight loss there will be significant loose skin in the middle of the tummy.

The standard lower horizontal is sometimes not adequate in dealing with this excess, and an additional vertical incision is added. As the blood supply in the middle of the tummy is disrupted this operation does carry significant risk of wound and skin breakdowns.

Reverse tummy tuck

Normally the incision line for a tummy tuck is in the bikini lines. This is a great location as it hides the incision. However, sometimes there is a lot of excess skin in the upper abdomen, under the breast area with minimal loose skin in the lower abdomen. If this is the case, then an upper abdominoplasty can be done, where the incision is located on the upper abdomen just under the breast area.

Apronectomy

The apronectomy is best for patients who have undergone extreme weight loss (i.e., half of one’s body weight or more) that leaves them with extra skin, referred to as an “apron,” that extends to their knees. This skin can be problematic because it often restricts movements and is prone to rashes. This procedure is more serious than a standard tummy tuck, as it involves removing larger amounts of excess skin. A patient who has lost 60 kilograms will often have about six kilograms of excess skin in the lower abdomen needing to be removed.

What technique is used in doing the tummy tuck?

  • Standard or traditional tummy tuck
  • Liposuction assisted abdominoplasty
  • Lipo-abdominoplasty
  • VASER assisted tummy tuck
  • 4D VASER Abdominoplasty

There has in my opinion been a revolution in the way that tummy tucks are performed in the last 10-15 years. Using liposuction to remove fat, preserve blood flow and reduce complications has made a big difference to the cosmetic outcome of tummy tucks as well as recovery. Modern tummy tucks do not require drains and usually only require overnight stay in hospital. It is important to realise that the new technique of lipoabdominoplasty is different from a standard tummy tuck with added liposuction. When adding liposuction to a standard tummy tuck, the liposuction is only usually performed on the upper abdomen and flanks, this does not yield the same dramatic results as a lipoabdominoplasty, where the liposculpture is done everywhere.

Standard or traditional tummy tuck

The standard or “classical” abdominoplasty was first described in its modern form by Pitanguy in 1967 (ref 15). This is the technique that is commonly taught and described in many plastic surgery textbooks. There has been modifications over time, such as, including tension suture and modern suture materials. However, the principles have remained the same for a long time.

The flap (skin and fat of the lower abdomen) are dissected off the abdominal wall up to the rib area. A hole is made around the umbilicus. The skin is then pulled down and excess skin removed. Drains are inserted, that usually stay in for 7-14 days, depending on how much fluid is coming out. The usual hospital stay for the traditional tummy tuck is 4-5 days.

Liposuction assisted abdominoplasty

The main difference here is that liposuction is added to the classical abdominoplasty. The liposuction can be done around the sides and other areas of excess fat. However, extensive liposuction is avoided on the abdominal area, due to concerns that this may cause issues with blood supply or skin necrosis. This tends to limit the results that are possible with this technique.

Lipo-abdominoplasty

The lipoabdominoplasty is a radically different concept to the traditional abdominoplasty. It is important to realise that this is not a classic abdominoplasty with some added liposuction. The liposuction is integral to the result and the recovery from this operation. The liposuction is used both to remove fat and to dissect the tissues. The internal dissection is carried out, not on the abdominal wall, which disrupts blood flow as well as lymphatics, but in a higher plane to avoid these structures. In the most modern techniques that Dr Beldholm uses, no drains are required, and you only need to stay in overnight in hospital. There are many research reports that demonstrate both the safety and great results of these modern techniques (ref 1, 11).

I have created a separate article demonstrating the technique that I use for my abdominoplasty: Modern tummy tuck techniques

The numbers speak for themselves

One study published in 2008 in Plastic and reconstructive surgery journal, demonstrated the following when comparing standard tummy tuck with a lipoabdominoplasty (ref 16).

Traditional W-pattern abdominoplasty

  • Complication rate of 42%
  • Dissatisfaction rate of 42%
  • Revision rate of 39%

Lipo-abdominoplasty

  • Complication rate of 9%
  • Dissatisfaction rate of 3%
  • Revision rate of 3%

VASER abdominoplasty

Traditional liposculpture is quite a simple procedure. Fluid containing local anaesthetic and adrenalin is injected into the area to be sculpted and a metal cannula is used to suck the fat out. This is still the most common method for doing liposuction today, and is also the most common method used with the lipoabdominoplasty surgery. Over the last ten years or so there has been a number of advancements in performing liposuction, such as the power assisted liposuction cannulas, Laser liposuction and water jet liposuction. Many of these methods, in my experience, add very little to the final result. However, VASER (Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance) liposculpture, has made it possible to do more superficial removal of fat, which makes it possible to get a much more sculpted appearance. Dr Hoyos and Dr Millard first described the VASER high definition liposculpture technique in 2007 (ref 18).

The VASER probe melts fat and provides a more smooth result than traditional liposuction. I have found that using VASER instead of the traditional liposuction for my abdominoplasties improves the results and recovery. It also makes for a more sculpted and defined abdomen. Studies also demonstrate improved skin retraction as well as reduced blood loss from using VASER as compared to using standard liposuction (ref 19).

As this technique adds significantly to the time it takes to perform the abdominoplasty, we charge a premium for this type of tummy tuck.

Want to find out costs and get more information about these advanced techniques? Send us an enquiry. Click here.

Health insurance, MBS item numbers; Can I get my operation covered?

While Australia’s universal health care program, or Medicare, may cover the cost of the procedure for some patients, changes to the MBS (Medicare Benefits Schedule) that took effect in January 2016, will ultimately impact the amount each patient pays.

The new MBS changes are highly restrictive. They limit the number of procedures that are now covered. In all, 23 items have been axed from the MBS. This means procedures that were previously covered are not any longer. As a result, patients are now left to foot the bill.

At Specialist Cosmetic Surgery we strive to constantly keep you up to date with the latest information involving changes to healthcare. If you are a patient who’s struggled with extra fat or loose skin following pregnancy, breastfeeding or massive weight loss, you will be impacted by the MBS changes.

Due to lipectomy (liposuction) item number changes, the government has placed greater restrictions on coverage for patients seeking an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), a thigh lift or arm lift.

Summary of Changes

Under the new changes, new MBS items have been added (30172, 30176, 30179) while others have been deleted (Ex: 30174).

We understand that for some patients, trying to make sense of the various item numbers can be very confusing—especially with the medical jargon used. It can all seem like a foreign language. That’s where we come in!

Send us an enquiry and we will send you further information. Click here

New Requirements

In order to qualify/take advantage of the MBS line items available for a tummy tuck, thigh lift or arm lift, you must first meet the following requirements:

  • You need to have lost a significant amount of weight.
  • The specified requirement is at least 5 BMI units. For example, if you are 170 cm tall and weigh 130 kg (BMI 45), you need to lose at least 15kg of weight to get down to BMI of 40.
  • The weight needs to have been stable for 6 months after the weight loss.
  • There needs to be a medical issues with the loose skin, such as skin rashes, ulcers, etc. Patients must also demonstrate that they attempted non-surgical methods to correct the problem, but this has failed after three months of trying.

Our Advice to Prospective Patients

If you meet the criteria above, then you should make sure that your GP referral letter states all the relevant criteria as above. You should also check with your health fund to verify that you are, in fact, covered for the procedure. We have special referral forms that your GP can use (click here to download) to make sure to cover the requirements (send us an enquiry if you want more information about this. Click here )

As always, should you have any additional questions, we are happy to provide you with the right answers to help you make a well-informed decision.

We can be reached by phone, email or via our social media accounts.

What recovery can I expect after my tummy tuck?

The recovery will greatly vary as to what type of abdominoplasty you have. A mini-tummy tuck, using VASER liposuction, can have quite a quick recovery of around one week, with return to most activities, except for the most vigorous exercise. A VASER abdominoplasty, usually takes around ten days to stand up straight and start doing most things at home including driving. However, you will be able to walk around on day one, as well as have a shower. A large body lift after massive weight loss, will take much longer to recover from.

It is best to book a consultation with Dr Beldholm to go through the specific operation that will best suit you. Call us now on (02) 4934-5700 to book a consultation.

Some things to consider for your recovery

Smoking is a definite no-no

Smokers are not just among the most at-risk while under the knife, but smoking after surgery has such a negative effect on the healing process, that there are many surgeons who refuse to work with patients who can’t go cold-turkey whilst they recover.

Keep yourself distracted during the healing process

Many patients forget that a tummy tuck is a major operation, and end up going in unprepared for the recovery. As such, it is not unusual for patients to experience mood swings as they recover. The best mental tool in recovery is positive distraction, so queue up a stack of books, TV series, magazines and even computer games, so you have something fun to do after your operation.

Complications after abdominoplasty and body lift surgery

As with any surgical operation there are complications and that can occur. The complication rate varies significantly depending on what type of operation you need. A mini tummy tuck has a lot lower complication rate than a Body lift.

That why it is important to have a proper consultation with a specialist surgeon such as Dr Beldholm. ( Click here to email us)

In general these are the potential complications after a tummy tuck.

General complications applicable to all types of operations include

  • Heart problems (although very uncommon with modern anaesthetic techniques).
  • Lung problems; small areas of the lungs may collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. Such problems may require antibiotics and physiotherapy to correct. Other potential lung complications are quite rare.
  • Clots in the legs with pain and swelling. Rarely, part of such a clot may break off and go to the lungs, causing fatal complications.
  • Allergic reactions to medications.
  • Potential for injury to deeper structures including nerves, blood vessels, and muscles.
  • Itching, tenderness, or exaggerated responses to hot or cold temperatures. Usually this resolves during healing but, in rare cases, may be chronic.
  • Deep sutures may spontaneously poke through the skin, becoming visible or producing irritation that requires removal.
  • Wound disruption or delayed wound healing – especially in patients who do not stop smoking before their operation. Generally, if wounds are dressed daily, this heals up in a couple of months. Necrosis (skin death) can also occur but is very rare.
  • Postoperative pain will occur in varying degrees, from quite severe to moderate to mild on the first day. It gradually improves over the next few days and is usually well tolerated by patients if they take the painkillers prescribed. Increasing pain unresponsive to pain-killers should be brought to the attention of the surgeon as this may be an indication that complications are developing. Patients may not be able to stand fully erect for up to two weeks after the operation due to the tightness of the abdominal skin with resultant excessive pull on the surgical scar. Intermittent mild discomfort or intermittent sharp pains after the first few weeks after surgery is also common, as the swelling resolves and the nerves recover. Chronic pain, ranging from mild aching pain to sharp nerve pain can persist for more than one year, but is very rare.
  • Bruising and swelling is normal after the operation, but this varies from mild to severe with each patient.
  • To reduce risks the patient should stop treatment with such drugs as Aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs or other blood-thinning agents, including high dose vitamin E tablets or capsules, 10-14 days prior to surgery. We will provide you with a comprehensive list of substances to avoid in your pre-operative instruction sheet. However, if you are taking any medications and you are unsure if they affect bleeding, please ask us at least two weeks before your operation.

Specific complications relating to abdominoplasty may include

  • Bleeding and excessive bruising. A haematoma could potentially form, which requires removal through further surgery.
  • Infections – either superficial or deep
  • There are always rather long scars following this procedure. Occasionally, wide, thick or otherwise unfavourable scars may be visible outside the underwear or bikini.
  • Rare complications related to the liposuction include, injury to deeper structures such as the abdominal wall, bowel, nerves and blood vessels.
  • Some numbness in the lower abdomen will result. Sensation usually returns fully, though in rare cases some permanent numbness remains.
  • Scar

Other resources you may find useful

Dr Beldholm's tummy tuck technique - "How I do it"

This articles goes through how Dr Beldholm does his abdominoplasty, step by step. Click here.

Peer review journal articles supporting the way that I do things

  1. Swanson E. “Prospective outcome study of 360 patients treated with liposuction, lipoabdominoplasty, and abdominoplasty.” Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 129(4):965-78, 2012 Apr.
  2. Swanson E. “Photographic measurements in 301 cases of liposuction and abdominoplasty reveal fat reduction without redistribution.” Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 130(2):311e-322e, 2012 Aug.
  3. Swanson E.”Comparison of Limited and Full Dissection Abdominoplasty Using Laser Fluorescence Imaging to Evaluate Perfusion of the Abdominal Skin.” Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 136(1):31e-43e, 2015 Jul.
  4. Saldanha OR; Salles AG; Ferreira MC; Llaverias F; Morelli LH; Saldanha Filho OR; Saldanha CB. “Aesthetic evaluation of lipoabdominoplasty in overweight patients.” Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 132(5):1103-12, 2013 Nov.
  5. Fuller JC; Nguyen CN; Moulton-Barrett RE.” Weight reduction following abdominoplasty: a retrospective case review pilot study.” Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 131(2):238e-244e, 2013 Feb.
  6. Drapeau CM, D’Aniello C, Brafa A, et al. “Italian Group on Surgical Infections in Plastic Surgery. Surgical site infections in plastic surgery: an italian multicenter study.” J Surg Res. 2007;143(2):393-397.
  7. Durai R, Ng PC. “Surgical vacuum drains: types, uses, and complications.” AORN J. 2010;91(2):266-271; quiz 272.
  8. Samra S; Sawh-Martinez R; Barry O; Persing JA. ”Complication rates of lipoabdominoplasty versus traditional abdominoplasty in high-risk patients.” Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 125(2):683-90, 2010 Feb.
  9. Le Louarn C; Pascal JF.” The high-superior-tension technique: evolution of lipoabdominoplasty.“ Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 34(6):773-81, 2010 Dec.
  10. Uebel CO. ”Lipoabdominoplasty: revisiting the superior pull-down abdominal flap and new approaches.” Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 33(3):366-76, 2009 May.
  11. Epstein S, Epstein M, Gutowski K, MD, FACS. “Lipoabdominoplasty Without Drains or Progressive Tension Sutures: An Analysis of 100 Consecutive Patients.“ Aesthet Surg J (2015) 35 (4): 434-440.
  12. R Glen Calderhead, Won-Serk Kim and David B Vasily “Adjunctive 830 nm light-emitting diode therapy can improve the results following aesthetic procedures” Laser Ther. 2015 Dec 30; 24(4): 277–289.
  13. Kim, W. S. & Calderhead, G. R. (2011). “Is light-emitting diode phototherapy (LED-LLLT) really effective?” Journal for laser surgery, phototherapy and photobioactivation, 20(3): 205-215
  14. NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC). “Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014: a pooled analysis of 1698 population-based”, www.thelancet.com Vol 387 April 2, 2016
  15. PITANGUY, VO, “Abdominal Lipectomy: An Approach to It through an Analysis of 300 Consecutive Cases.”, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: October 1967 – Volume 40 – Issue 4 – ppg 384-391
  16. Heller, Justin B. M.D.; Teng, Edward B.S.; Knoll, Bianca I. M.D.; Persing, John M.D. “Outcome Analysis of Combined Lipoabdominoplasty versus Conventional Abdominoplasty”, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery journal: May 2008 – Volume 121 – Issue 5 – pp 1821-1829
  17. Sarah Epstein Michael A. Epstein, MD, FACS Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS, “Lipoabdominoplasty Without Drains or Progressive Tension Sutures: An Analysis of 100 Consecutive Patients”, Aesthet Surg J (2015) 35 (4): 434-440.
  18. AE Hoyos, JA Millard, “VASER-assisted high-definition liposculpture”, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 27(6):594-604, 2007 Nov-Dec
  19. Nagy MW1, Vanek PF Jr., “A multicenter, prospective, randomized, single-blind, controlled clinical trial comparing VASER-assisted Lipoplasty and suction-assisted Lipoplasty.”, Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012 Apr;129(4):681e-9e
  20. de Brito MJ; Nahas FX; Barbosa MV; Dini GM; Kimura AK; Farah AB; Ferreira LM., “Abdominoplasty and its effect on body image, self-esteem, and mental health.”, Annals of Plastic Surgery. 65(1):5-10, 2010 Jul.
 

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