Abdominoplasty is a very common surgical procedure. The procedure is designed to address some changes that affect the lower abdomen as a result of changes due to age, pregnancy or weight loss after significant weight gain. The causes for these changes are a combination of lost skin elasticity, excess of skin and fat and stretching of the muscle layer of the abdomen. This problem can be exacerbated in women who have had a caesarean section as the loose abdominal tissues can fold over the scar creating a small apron which many women consider unsightly.
An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck can be very effective in reducing the lower abdominal bulge and address the changes due to lost skin elasticity and hanging skin.
Exercise and weight loss can address an increasing body fat however for many women, the loss of skin elasticity and the stretch of the muscle layer of the abdomen will not be corrected in this manner because these are permanent changes. For these women an abdominoplasty may provide a solution to this problem, often with very dramatic results.
An incision is made around the umbilicus (belly button) and it remains connected to the muscle layer of the abdomen.
A long incision is made just above the pubic hairline within the area normally covered by underwear. The skin and fat of the abdomen is separated from the muscle layer to the level of the ribs.
The stretched muscle layer of the abdomen is repaired. This part of the operation can create a very dramatic change to the lower abdominal bulge.
The skin and fat of the abdomen is pulled down once it has been released and excess tissue is removed.
A new hole is made in the skin and the umbilicus is brought back out to the surface.
Scarring is the inevitable result of invasive surgical procedures. Although different people will achieve a different final scar from similar procedures, scars are generally placed in natural skin folds and a variety of standard scar manipulation techniques are applied following wound healing to maximise the outcome.
Frequently there is a long scar travelling from hip to hip as a result of this operation. This scar is purposely placed under pressure and frequently will have colour in it for as long as 18 months to two years. During this period of time it will be gradually fade. Most scars will eventually fade and then be difficult to find on casual observation.
The length of the scar varies from one patient to the next and will depend upon the distribution of excess tissue on the abdomen and what we’re trying to achieve. For some patients, combining abdominoplasty with liposuction will reduce the length of this scar and also improve the final result.
Although it is less common, men certainly can consider this procedure.
Both Medicare and your health fund (if you have one) will contribute to the costs involved. A health fund will contribute to the private hospital theatre and accommodation costs, medicare and your health fund will contribute to the medical costs (anaesthetists, assistant surgeon, pathologist and Dr Magnusson’s fee). For uninsured patients Medicare will not contribute to hospital costs which are therefore an out-of-pocket expense for the patient.
From the 1st January, 2016, Medicare adjusted the eligibility requirements for people seeking to undergo this procedure. In order for you to be eligible for Medicare rebates for abdominoplasty from the 1st January, 2016, Dr Magnusson will need to determine that you qualify under the following criteria:
(a) there is intertrigo or another skin condition that risks loss of skin integrity and has failed 3 months of conventional (or non surgical) treatment; and
(b) the redundant skin and fat interferes with the activities of daily living; and
(c) the weight has been stable for at least 6 months following significant weight loss prior to the lipectomy
This means that not all patients will qualify for Medicare rebates for this procedure. It does not mean however that they would not benefit from this surgery.
Health funds provide hospital cover and do not provide medical cover. This means that there will be a contribution from your health fund to the costs of surgery depending on what table of health cover you have. It does not mean that is all your medical costs are covered. Patients will still have an out-of-pocket expense.
For further information about your own policy you should contact your health fund.