Abdominoplasty

Written by Dr Jill Tomlinson on .

femaleabdomenAbdominoplasty or "tummy tuck" surgery is performed to improve the contour of the abdomen, often after pregnancy or significant weight loss. Abdominoplasty surgery is tailored to your specific body shape and can involve muscle tightening and hernia repair if indicated. 

A mini-abdominoplasty involves excision of skin and tissue between the belly button and the pubic bone. A full abdominoplasty removes a greater amount of tissue, which can achieve a greater effect than a mini-abdominoplasty. A full abdominoplasty involves surgical repositioning of the belly button. Liposuction may be used in combination with abdominoplasty to provide additional contour improvements.

A tummy tuck or "abdominoplasty" is often considered a one-size-fits-all operation, but in fact there are many variables that come into planning the best abdominoplasty for an individual patient. In order to provide you with optimal results when Dr Tomlinson assesses you she will look to determine: 

- whether you need abdominal muscle tightening
- whether you have an abdominal hernia that needs repair
- whether targeted liposuction to your waist would improve your eventual contour (usually this is the case and liposuction is combined with the abdominoplasty)
- how much abdominal tissue can be excised (ie whether you are suitable for a full abdominoplasty or a mini-abdominoplasty... or just liposuction alone)
- how long your incision should be and how high (or low) it should be placed
- whether you need an "up and down" incision as well as a "hip to hip" incision; this may be necessary in patients who have undergone massive weight loss and have extremely redundant

During an abdominoplasty Dr Tomlinson pays careful attention to contouring your soft tissues and shaping your new belly button as this makes significant differences (improvements) in the eventual appearance.

What type of anaesthetic is used?

A general anaesthetic is used for abdominoplasty surgery. Local anaesthetic is used during the operation to minimise your post operative discomfort.

What is the hospital stay?

Patients who are fit and well at the time of surgery commonly stay in hospital for 1-3 nights. If hernia or muscle repairs are performed this may increase the post operative discomfort and the length of your hospital stay.  Waterproof dressings are used so you will be able to shower. There is no pressure to go home early and you will only be discharged when your pain is controlled and you are recovering satisfactorily.

What is the recovery period?

abdomen femaleThe length of the recovery period varies considerably depending on the extent of surgery. If you have surgery to tighten your abdominal muscles or require a hernia repair as part of your surgery your will recovery will, on average, take longer than if you do not require muscle surgery. Most people plan to take 2-3 weeks off work. If your work is strenuous or involves heavy lifting you are likely to require 4-6 weeks off work. You are able to drive when your pain and discomfort has settled; this takes at least 2 weeks for most patients. If your abdominoplasty surgery involves muscle tightening this will lengthen your recovery period.

You will be provided with pain medications to take at home and be advised to wear compressive stockings on your legs for 2 weeks after the operation to reduce the risk of blood clots. We will also provide you with compression garments and silicone gel sheeting for scar management.

Appointments will be made for you to see me at approximately 1 week, 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 4 months and 1 year after surgery. If you have concerns or problems you will be seen more frequently than this.

Possible complications of abdominoplasty surgery

Complications are possible with any surgery. General complications of any surgery may happen during or after abdominoplasty, such as allergic reaction, bleeding & haematoma (which may require a return to the operating theatre), delayed healing, disappointment, an extended hospital stay, infection, need for further surgical revision, unsightly scarring, pain (which may be prolonged), deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Specific complications that can occur with abdominoplasty include contour irregularities or asymmetries, change in sensation of the abdominal skin (such as numbness), changes in the shape or position of the pubic hair line, "dog ears" (contour irregularities at the end of the scar), genital region numbness, loss of skin from poor circulation (requiring further surgery), loss of the belly button or malposition of the belly button and seroma (a collection of fluid under the skin that may require repeated procedural drainage).

Who is unsuitable for abdominoplasty?

Individuals may be unsuitable for abdominoplasty if they

  • are medically unwell with significant heart, lung, liver or kidney problems
  • have a significant bleeding or clotting disorder, including the need to take blood thinning medications to prevent strokes and heart attacks
  • are smokers and are unable to stop smoking prior to surgery
  • plan further pregnancies
  • are overweight or obese

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What are the costs of abdominoplasty?

The surgical quotation that you will be provided at your consultation includes:

  • the surgeon's fee
  • the anaesthetist's fee
  • the hospital or day surgery fee
  • compression garment(s)
  • scar management products
  • the cost of your post surgical appointments for one year

To arrange an appointment to discuss abdominoplasty with Dr Tomlinson please phone us on (03) 9427 9596 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Due to high demand we recommend that you phone to schedule your initial appointment at least six weeks and ideally three months prior to your preferred surgery date. Prior to abdominoplasty surgery we usually see you for at least one hour on two separate occasions in order to ensure that you are fully prepared for surgery and that everything is ready for the big day!

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

Website Disclaimer

This website is authored by Dr Jillian Tomlinson, a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon who practices in Melbourne, Australia. This website aims to inform patients and health professionals about hand surgery, illness prevention and the practice philosophy of Dr Jill Tomlinson. This website's content is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own doctor. The information is not intended to replace the advice of a health professional. This website does not host or receive funding from advertising or from the display of commercial content.