tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty) with sydney plastic surgeon dr ellis choy
After pregnancy, many women experience lax abdominal muscles, sagging skin, stubborn belly fat and bulges around the waist. Often, no amount of physical exercise and dieting can get rid of these conditions. Precision body contouring and tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) procedures can help you achieve a firmer and shapelier tummy and a natural-looking navel area.
One reason why women struggle to get their tummies back in shape is that pregnancy and childbirth cause something known as rectus divarication – a separation of the abdominal muscles. This condition can cause a “belly pooch” as well as lower back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction and increased risk of a hernia. Abdominoplasty reduces these issues by restoring core muscles and leaving patients with a firmer, rejuvenated midsection.
A tummy tuck procedure minimises the appearance of sagging folds of skin, reduces belly fat and slims the waistline. The tummy tuck surgery also repairs torn abdominal muscles and alleviates the associated symptoms including bladder weakness and constipation.
TYPES OF TUMMY TUCKS
Tummy tuck surgery is undoubtedly one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed today. Dr Ellis Choy, a Specialist Plastic Surgeon in Sydney, Australia, helps patients achieve a curvier, natural-looking waistline without an excess of stubborn residual fat. The procedure also helps in reducing unwanted stretch marks below the belly button.
The decision regarding which type of tummy tuck is appropriate for you is made during a personal, one-on-one consultation with Dr Choy. This appointment will involve a review of your concerns and goals, as well as a physical examination. Dr Choy will recommend the technique that will achieve your desired results and create a natural-appearing outcome.
Full Tummy Tuck
A full abdominoplasty is the most popular option. This procedure addresses the entire tummy area by removing excess fat and loose skin and tightening muscles in the abdominal wall. During a full tummy tuck, an incision is made across the lower abdomen from hip bone to hip bone and the skin is elevated to provide access to the underlying muscles. The muscle edges are sutured together, essentially creating an internal corset that firms the abdominal wall and slims the waist. The skin is then pulled downward and excess tissue is removed, along with any stretch marks in the area. The belly button is isolated and repositioned in a full tummy tuck.
This technique yields a tighter abdominal contour. Patients who opt for a full tummy tuck want to rejuvenate the complete length of the abdominal wall — above and below the belly button — and require muscle repair to achieve their desired improvements.
Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck is a less invasive type of abdominoplasty. This procedure only addresses the area below the navel and does not allow for full reconstruction of the abdominal muscles. Compared to a full abdominoplasty, the mini technique involves a smaller treatment area, a slightly shorter scar and no repositioning of the belly button. The result of a mini tummy tuck is a flatter abdomen achieved by removing loose skin and excess fat in the lower abdominal area. This approach can be advantageous for patients whose concerns are limited to the region below the belly button and who are interested in shorter recovery time and reduced scarring.
A mini tummy tuck may be ideal for individuals who have a taut abdominal wall, but are struggling to get rid of excessive tissue below the navel. If a patient has muscle laxity and significant protrusion of their abdomen, a full abdominoplasty may be recommended instead.
Extended Tummy Tuck
Extended tummy tuck procedures — also known as ultra-radical abdominoplasty or fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty — are designed to remove even more excess fat and skin than a full tummy tuck. When this technique is used, the incisions form the shape of an inverted T. One horizontal incision is made above the pubic area, as in a standard tummy tuck. The second incision is placed vertically through the midline of the abdomen.
An extended tummy tuck is designed for individuals with an excessive amount of loose skin. These tend to be women and men who have achieved massive weight loss. While they successfully lose the unwanted fat, their skin lacks the elasticity to “snap back” and conform to their slimmer shape. The inverted T scar is larger and more difficult to conceal than the standard tummy tuck scar, but for many patients, this is a worthwhile trade-off.
Reverse Tummy Tuck
A reverse tummy tuck removes loose skin exclusively from the upper abdomen. The incisions are placed beneath the breasts at the natural breast crease. The abdominal skin is then pulled up, excess skin is removed and the incisions are sutured closed. A reverse tummy tuck doesn’t involve tightening of the middle or lower abdominal muscles or repositioning of the belly button.
Individuals who have a tight lower abdomen and lax skin in the upper abdomen may benefit from the reverse tummy tuck. Patients who have experienced dramatic weight loss are often excellent candidates for this technique. A reverse tummy tuck will not give patients with excess tissue below the navel the tight, sculpted shape they desire.
Lower Body Lift
A lower body lift, or belt lipectomy, is a comprehensive procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen, flanks, thighs, hips and buttocks. During the surgery, an incision is made around the circumference of the torso to remove wrinkled, folded and sagging skin that distorts the shape and proportions of the lower body.
Acceptance of some visible scarring is necessary with a lower body lift. Because of the extensive nature of this procedure, it is suitable for individuals with a considerable excess of circumferential tissue. Many patients considering a lower body lift have experienced massive weight loss and are looking to fine-tune their results.
TUMMY TUCK CANDIDATES
Dr Choy schedules an initial consultation with each patient to discuss critical details including their surgical goals, current health status and medical conditions, prior surgeries and lifestyle habits such as alcohol and tobacco use.
Good candidates for tummy tuck surgery have a significant degree of abdominal wall laxity — often as a result of rectus divarication — and a substantial amount of loose skin. This excess skin can create an “apron” that hangs downward, resulting in irritation and infection in the folded area. Many tummy tuck candidates struggle with a constant lower abdominal pouch that makes it look as though they’re permanently pregnant. These challenges cannot be addressed adequately with diet and exercise.
Not everyone is a suitable candidate for abdominoplasty. Before deciding that a tummy tuck is right for you, you must consider your goals carefully. A tummy tuck is a significant procedure that delivers both cosmetic and functional benefits — in order to achieve this, you must be prepared for a complex procedure, an extended recovery period with restrictions, and a scar. Expectations that do not include these aspects of the procedure are unrealistic. Other factors that could make a tummy tuck inadvisable include pre-existing medical conditions, tobacco use and multiple previous abdominal surgeries.
One of the most important considerations is a patient’s current weight. Abdominoplasty is not a weight loss procedure and should only be considered only after a patient has exhausted all conservative, noninvasive options. To be approved for this procedure, you must demonstrate your ability to stick to a diet and exercise regime and maintain a stable weight. This commitment will be necessary to maintain your results after the surgery. A BMI under 30 is ideal, but patients that are above this are also considered on a case by case basis. Dr Choy recommends postponing surgery if you plan to lose a substantial amount of weight or have children in the future.
THE TUMMY TUCK PROCEDURE
To perform a full tummy tuck, Dr Choy makes a horizontal incision just above the pubic area under general anaesthetic. Once the skin and fat layers are separated from the abdominal wall, he sutures the abdominal muscles together to tighten them. The skin and fat layers are then pulled over the abdominal wall and sutured together. Dr Choy will also make another opening for the navel. Any excess skin that goes over the incision is removed.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE SURGERY
Before you leave the clinic, Dr Ellis Choy or a member of his plastic surgery team will perform an outpatient consultation with you to let you know what to expect. Plan to remain in the hospital for a minimum of 48 hours and take things easy for the first two weeks after surgery. Dr Choy places drainage tubes just below the incision. These tubes allow fluids to leak out as you heal to prevent it from building up around the wound. The sutures are bandaged with a special tape, and they’re removed approximately a week after the surgery.
There will be a degree of bruising and swelling around your abdomen and some numbing of the area between your belly button and the surgical scar. You may find it difficult to stand up and move around straight away, but this will get easier over time. These symptoms are common and will fade over the weeks that follow your surgery. You will be given a compression garment to reduce the swelling. Wear it day and night for six to eight weeks. After that, you may choose to continue wearing it during the day only for another six to eight weeks.
You will need to refrain from lifting heavy items and performing strenuous activities initially. Avoid exercise entirely for the first four weeks. Around six to eight weeks, you may gradually begin to resume most of your regular fitness routine. Exercises that focus on the abdominal region should ideally be avoided for at least six months while the muscles heal and stabilise. Cease doing anything that causes you to feel strain in your abs. Most patients return to normal after six weeks.
THE TUMMY TUCK AND THE BIKINI LINE
Bikini line tummy tuck plastic surgery uses an area below the bikini line as an access point. It creates a scar running from hip to hip, but this scar is not visible with most outfits, even those that display the midriff. This is a popular choice at Dr Ellis Choy’s clinic, thanks to the improved aesthetics and reduced visibility of the scar.
THE ROLE OF DIET AND EXERCISE IN A TUMMY TUCK PROCEDURE
Abdominoplasty offers noticeable early improvements. Additional benefits become increasingly pronounced as the area continues to heal. However, if you are to continue experiencing great results in the long term, diet and exercise are essential.
First and foremost, it should be mentioned that a tummy tuck is a surgical process. Your body must be given time to rest and recuperate, which means no exercise other than walking immediately after the procedure. Dr Choy or a member of his team will consult with you about when you can start exercising again.
Once the required recovery period has passed, exercise and diet play a major role in preserving the results achieved by a tummy tuck. Patients should aim for a well-balanced diet which includes plenty of protein to build muscle strength and to support the initial weight loss. The key to maintaining a healthy weight is to use more calories than we take in from our food and drink. Patients should be exercising every day and should be mindful of the calories they are ingesting.
By combining a healthy diet and a high level of exercise, patients can maintain the results of their tummy tuck procedure.
WHAT RESULTS TO EXPECT FROM YOUR TUMMY TUCK
This procedure can leave you with a slimmer, more toned tummy and reduced stretch marks, loose skin and bulges. It can also give you greater abdominal muscle tautness and control. To picture the possible results, imagine your stomach transforming from a waterbed into a trampoline. Tummy tuck scars at the incision site remain hidden beneath your undergarments and fade over a period of time.
If you would like to learn more or book a consultation, simply get in touch with the team today. We serve patients in Sydney, Coffs Harbour and all over Australia & beyond. Call us on 02 8962 9388 or complete the enquiry form.
Making an Informed Decision
Undergoing plastic surgery is a significant decision that should be made only after careful consideration of all aspects involved, including the potential risks and complications.
General Risks and Complications
There are general risks and complications that apply to most plastic surgery procedures. These are discussed in detail on our Risks and Complications page.
Specific Risks and Complications
In addition to those that apply generally to plastic surgery, each individual procedure comes with its own specific risks and complications. For abdominoplasty, these include:
- Temporary or permanent changes in skin sensation
- Skin irregularities (bumpy, wavy or uneven appearance)
- Navel malposition
- Navel deformity
- Fatty tissue damage or necrosis
- Prolonged swelling or pain
- Significant scarring
Request a consultation with Dr Choy for a detailed discussion of these considerations. Dr Choy will conduct a thorough risk assessment based on your individual factors and outline the measures that can be taken to minimise these risks. He and his team are here to support your decision-making process, providing all the information you need to make well-informed choices about your care.
Tummy Tuck Information Sheet
Download and print out the Tummy Tuck Information Sheet that includes a list of questions to ask Dr Choy during your appointment.