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Most people who would benefit from abdominoplasty have loose skin around their belly either from pregnancy or due to significant weight loss. A common complaint is of a roll of skin that sits in the trousers in an uncomfortable manner. The presence of significant stretch marks makes it unlikely that liposuction would be sufficient to rejuvenate the abdomen.
The details of this will be discussed with you by Mr Kenton-Smith during a consultation. He will advise you whether you are most suitable for liposuction only, mini-abdominoplasty with a short scar, abdominoplasty, extended abdominoplasty or, even, a complete body-lift.
Abdominoplasty involves most of the skin between the pubic hair and the belly button being removed as an ellipse. The skin above the belly button, on the front of the abdomen, is lifted up so that it can be stretched to close the wound. The scar is usually about 40 cm long. The muscle of your rectus, i.e. your six pack, may need to be stitched together at the same time. The belly button is left attached to the muscles of the abdominal wall and stitched back in its original position.
Surgery is performed either at St Georges, Forte Health or Southern Cross Hospital. Mr Kenton-Smith will see you on the Ward prior to surgery and discuss any last minute questions and fears. He will mark-up your abdomen and may mark up your hips, if liposuction is required. You will taken to Theatre and have a general anaesthetic by a qualified anaesthetist. Surgery takes approximately two hours. You will awaken in the Recovery Ward with a new, flatter tummy. You will have two drains present. Your stay in hospital will last 1-2 days. While there, Mr Kenton-Smith will see you daily.
The risks of surgery are too high if you smoke. You must stop smoking at least three weeks prior to surgery and continue not smoking for three weeks after surgery. Mr Kenton-Smith will not operate on you if you are currently smoking.
There is a small risk of returning to theatre on the same day of your operation for bleeding. This is rare. There is also a small risk of some skin loss on the abdominal wall. As with any operation, there is a small risk of infection.
After surgery your tummy may be numb for six months or so. Care must be taken not to use a hot water bottle on the abdomen until such time that normal feeling has returned. The scar from abdominoplasty has a tendency to stretch. Mr Kenton-Smith's team will advise that you tape the scar for approximately six months after surgery, until the scar has turned from red to white.
Most people return to work, or to looking after their children, after two weeks. For people with heavy manual jobs a longer period will be required. You may commence walking and light exercise the first few weeks after surgery, but should not attempt vigorous exercise for three weeks. If you have had a muscle repair, heavy lifting should be avoided for 2-3 months.
The approximate total cost of an abdominoplasty (including hospital, anaesthetist and surgeon's fees) is between $13,900-15,000. The cost of body lifting is approximately $23,500-25,500. A more exact price guide will be calculated after your consultation with Mr Kenton-Smith.