Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

After pregnancy or weight loss, the skin and tissue of the abdomen can become stretched and damaged. This causes the lower abdomen to droop, and many women feel self conscious about the appearance of their stomach. Once stretched by pregnancy or weight gain, the abdomen often fails to return to its original shape. Furthermore, diet and exercise programs frequently fail to help restore the abdomen to its' previous appearance as the tissue has been stretched too much.

In an abdominoplasty, excess skin is removed from the abdomen and often the abdominal muscles are tightened. Liposculpture is frequently performed in conjunction with abdominoplasty in order to remove excess fat from the abdominal, and surrounding, regions. Overall, this gives the abdomen a smoother, flatter appearance and removes much of the sagging that occurs in this region. The amount of improvement depends upon the extent of surgery and the physical characteristics of the patient.

The procedure

Abdominoplasty is performed under general anaesthetic and takes two and a half to five hours to complete, depending on the extent of the operation. If the operation is extensive then a hospital stay of up to three days may be required, however, for smaller operations you may be able to return home on the same day.

There are different techniques that are used depending on the specific problem, and your surgeon will discuss these with you prior to surgery. One of the most common techniques that is used is the lower transverse excision abdominoplasty. In this operation an incision is made across the lower abdomen, just above the pubic region. Excess skin and tissue is removed from the abdominal region, and the abdominal muscles can be tightened at the same time. Liposculture may be performed as well to improve the contours of surrounding regions such as the hips and buttocks. When the incision is closed, a scar is left just above the pubic hairline, which can usually be hidden by underwear.

After your surgery

Patients typically stay in hospital for up to three days following an extensive procedure, so that medical staff can monitor their recovery. If a smaller procedure is performed then you may be able to return home on the same day as your operation. Dressings are changed in the days following surgery, and any sutures are removed 5 to 14 days following the procedure.

You will be able to shower two days following surgery, and a supportive garment is typically worn for up to three weeks following the procedure to help aid healing. Most people take 2-3 weeks off work while they are recuperating if they have had a more extensive procedure. After about three days, you can begin light activities, however, more strenuous physical activity such as lifting should be avoided for 4-6 weeks. Your surgeon will be able to advise you as to when you can resume normal physical activities.

The long-term outcome

Following surgery, the abdomen is flatter and smoother, and there is no longer saggy excess skin. Patients are usually very satisfied with the results of the procedure, however, it is important to remember that diet and exercise is necessary to optimise the long-term outcome. As long as you keep your weight relatively constant, the long-term results from this procedure are generally excellent.


All surgery carries some risks, which include the possibility of post-operative infection, bleeding, excessive scarring and reaction to the anaesthetic. There are other risks that are more specific to this procedure, and it is important that you talk to your surgeon about the possible complications prior to surgery. Pre-existing medical conditions can alter the level of risk associated with any procedure, and it is important that you notify your surgeon and anaesthetist of any medical problems prior to surgery. It is also important to follow your surgeon's instructions both before, and after, surgery to ensure that these risks are minimised


The components that determine the cost of the procedure are the surgical theatre costs, hospital costs, anaesthetic fee and the surgeon's fee. Prices vary widely and depend on; the extent/complexity of the procedure, the physical attributes of individual patients, and the surgeon performing the operation. An abdominoplasty typically costs $20000 to $30000.

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