An abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a Tummy Tuck, is a widely performed plastic surgery. Its primary goal is to eliminate surplus skin in the abdominal area, resulting in a more contoured physique. This procedure often targets persistent issues like skin laxity and stubborn fat that does not respond to diet and exercise. Abdominoplasty is typically sought by individuals who have undergone pregnancy, C-sections, hysterectomies, experienced weight loss, or are dealing with the effects of ageing. However, some patients express concerns about their suitability for the procedure based on their body weight.
URGENT UPDATE – The Australian Government has reinstated a Medicare Item Number for abdominoplasty for some post-pregnancy patients suffering from Diastasis Recti (Split Tummy Muscles) if you are eligible and meet the new criteria. This new Medicare Item Number -30175 – is effective 1st July 2022. Read the 30175 Medicare Item Number factsheet.
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This complete guide to Abdominoplasty surgery covers everything you need to know about this procedure, including:
- Your surgery explained
- How to assess if you are a good candidate.
- Planning for your surgery
- Answers to most frequently asked questions.
- Before and after gallery
- Read more about Abdominoplasty Surgery
Have you ever received negative feedback about your suitability for surgery?
At times, patients visit us after consultations with other surgeons who have raised concerns about their eligibility for abdominoplasty surgery due to their weight. While such concerns may have technical and medical validity, there are more considerate and sensitive ways to approach this topic and work collaboratively to reach your surgical goals.
In an ideal scenario, achieving the recommended weight and BMI for the surgery would be the goal. Our experienced plastic surgeons have observed that an Abdominoplasty can be a valuable tool in helping you reach your desired body shape and weight. By maintaining a positive outlook, offering gentle encouragement, and setting realistic weight goals, we aim to support your journey toward Abdominoplasty surgery. Remember, you are much more than just a statistic.
This article is designed to help you not only comprehend your decision to undergo Abdominoplasty but also to understand the associated risks. It includes information about determining your weight or BMI for the procedure. A full abdominoplasty can address issues like the separation of abdominal muscles, resulting in a firmer and more contoured stomach.
What is BMI?
BMI stands for Body Mass Index, which is the ratio between your body height and body weight. This ratio gives an indication of your total fitness according to your height. There are a lot of online BMI calculators that help you figure your own BMI – example the BMI calculator at the Heart Foundation.
BMI is calculated by dividing your current weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.
Weight (in kgs) divided by (Height in metres times height in metres) – For example a Weight of 100 kgs divided by Height squared (1.60m x 1.60m) = BMI of 39.0
*According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, a healthy BMI is between 20-25 for most adults.
BMI Ranges from;
- Underweight – below 18.5
- Ideal range 18.5 and 24.9
- Overweight between 25 and 29.9
- Obesity class I from 30 to 34.9
- Class II between 35 and 39.9
- Obesity Class III from 40 between 45
Why it is important to know your BMI?
Knowing your BMI (Body Mass Index) is essential for various reasons, primarily related to your health and well-being:
- Health Assessment: BMI provides a quick and simple way to assess whether your weight falls within a healthy range. It’s a useful tool for both individuals and healthcare professionals to identify potential health risks associated with weight.
- Weight-Related Health Risks: Understanding your BMI can help you recognize the health risks associated with being underweight, overweight, or obese. This knowledge can motivate you to make lifestyle changes to reduce these risks.
- Healthcare Decisions: Healthcare providers often use BMI as an initial screening tool to assess a patient’s health. It can influence decisions regarding further medical tests, treatments, or surgical procedures.
- Disease Prevention: Maintaining a healthy BMI is associated with a reduced risk of various weight-related diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
In summary, knowing your BMI is a valuable starting point for understanding your weight in the context of your health. It can help you make informed decisions, set realistic goals, and take actions that promote a healthier and more active life.
Why is important to know your BMI before Abdominoplasty surgery?
Knowing your BMI (Body Mass Index) before undergoing Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) surgery is important for several reasons:
- Surgical Suitability: Your BMI can help determine if you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. Extremely high BMIs may increase the surgical risks and complicate the procedure. Surgeons often recommend achieving a more stable BMI before surgery to ensure the best possible outcome.
- Anesthesia Safety: Anesthesia carries certain risks, and these risks can increase with higher BMIs. Anesthesiologists use your BMI as part of their assessment to determine the appropriate anesthesia and ensure your safety during the surgery.
- Complication Risk: High BMI is associated with an increased risk of surgical complications, such as infections, delayed wound healing, and blood clot formation. Knowing your BMI allows your surgeon to take necessary precautions to reduce these risks.
- Postoperative Outcomes: Your BMI can impact the results of your surgery. Patients with a higher BMI may have less favorable aesthetic outcomes, as excess fat and skin may be more challenging to address. Achieving a healthier BMI before surgery can lead to better postoperative results.
- Recovery and Healing: BMI can influence the rate of healing and recovery after surgery. Individuals with higher BMIs may experience more extended recovery periods, increased discomfort, and a higher likelihood of complications. Knowing your BMI can help you prepare for the potential challenges of the recovery process.
- Weight Management: Abdominoplasty is not a weight loss procedure but rather a body contouring surgery. Knowing your BMI encourages a focus on weight management. It can motivate you to maintain a healthy weight before and after surgery to sustain the results.
- Realistic Expectations: Understanding your BMI helps you set realistic expectations for the procedure. It’s essential to recognize that Abdominoplasty is not a substitute for weight loss. By knowing your BMI, you can understand what the surgery can and cannot achieve in terms of your body shape.
- Overall Health: Lastly, having a healthy BMI is generally associated with better overall health. Achieving a healthier BMI before surgery can contribute to better surgical outcomes and improved long-term health.
Consulting with your plastic surgeon is crucial to discuss your BMI, your suitability for Abdominoplasty, and any necessary steps to take before the procedure. A BMI of less than 30 is ideal for an abdominoplasty candidate. Of course, you CAN still have an Abdominoplasty/Tummy Tuck if you are overweight and get still good results. A surgeon may recommend reaching a stable BMI within a healthy range to optimize the safety and effectiveness of the surgery.
What if my BMI is 30 or above 30?
The suitability for an Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) at a BMI of 30 or above can vary depending on individual factors and the surgeon’s assessment. Here are some considerations:
While BMI is an important factor, it’s not the only one considered when determining a patient’s eligibility for Abdominoplasty. A patient’s overall health, medical history, and specific body composition are also essential factors.
In general, many plastic surgeons recommend that patients have a BMI below 30 before undergoing an abdominoplasty. This is because having a higher BMI can increase the surgical risks and the likelihood of complications. Surgeons often advise that patients reach a stable weight and maintain it for several months before considering Abdominoplasty Surgery. This helps ensure that you are at a weight where the results are more likely to be long-lasting.
Besides BMI, surgeons will evaluate your overall health. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and smoking can increase the risks associated with surgery.
Each patient is unique, and plastic surgeons provide personalized recommendations based on individual circumstances. If your BMI is slightly above 30 and you are in good health, a surgeon may consider you for the procedure. It’s essential to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon who can assess your situation. They may recommend weight loss or other preparatory measures before considering surgery.
Patients should also have realistic expectations about the outcomes. Abdominoplasty is not a substitute for weight loss. It is a body contouring procedure that primarily addresses excess skin and muscle separation.
Ultimately, the decision to proceed with abdominoplasty at a BMI of 30 or above should be made in consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. They can provide guidance based on your unique health and circumstances, helping you make an informed decision about whether the surgery is safe and appropriate for you.
NOTE: Most plastic surgeons will not perform an Abdominoplasty on patients with a BMI of more than 40. Patients with a BMI > 40 would be advised to lose additional weight before surgery.
What are the Risks of having Abdominoplasty for obese people – BMI > 30?
Performing an Abdominoplasty on individuals with a BMI > 30 comes with increased risks and considerations. While the procedure can be done, it’s important to be aware of the potential complications and challenges. Some of the risks include;
- Higher Surgical Complications: Obese individuals are at a higher risk of surgical complications, such as infection, wound healing problems, and blood clots.
- Anesthesia Risks: Anesthesia complications are more common in obese patients. Anesthesiologist carefully evaluate the patient’s health and plan the anesthesia accordingly.
- Increased Bleeding: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of bleeding during and after surgery. This can result in hematomas (pockets of blood) that may require drainage.
- Delayed Wound Healing: Obese individuals may experience slower wound healing, which can lead to a higher risk of infection and less desirable scarring.
- Excess Skin Tension: If there’s a larger amount of loose skin that needs to be removed it can place additional tension on the incision, making proper healing and scarring more challenging.
- Health Factors: Obesity often comes with associated health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and high blood pressure, which can increase the surgical risks.
Given these risks, it’s crucial for obese individuals considering Abdominoplasty to have thorough discussions with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Surgeons will assess the individual’s health, discuss the potential benefits, and provide recommendations based on the patient’s unique circumstances. They may advise patients to lose weight and improve their overall health before undergoing surgery to minimize risks and optimise the results.
How do you know if you are ready for Abdominoplasty Surgery?
If you have an ideal or slightly overweight BMI you may wonder if you are a good candidate for an Abdominoplasty. Having a suitable BMI is an indicator of good overall health. However, it is not the only factor considered.
Some other factors that are taken into consideration include;
- Being as close as possible to your ideal weight – hopefully within 10kg.
- We advise being within 10kg of a maintainable weight because it is realistic and not too specific.
- Maintaining a stable weight for at least six months, ideally one year.
- Gaining or losing weight more than once per year is not considered ‘stable weight’.
- Maintaining healthy eating as well as a healthy lifestyle pre and post-surgery.
- Being physically healthy, with no significant medical conditions.
- Not having future pregnancies or further weight loss planned.
- Pregnancy and weight fluctuation after the surgery could weaken and separate your stomach muscles causing a change in abdominal shape and contouring.
- Smoking before and after surgery greatly impacts the recovery process and wound healing.
- Moreover, smoking restricts oxygen flowing through the body and oxygen is needed to heal not only internally but the external wound as well.
- Smokers tend to have more wound breakdown and infections.
- Our surgeons ask you to quit before, during and after surgery.
- You should also have realistic expectations about surgery. It is not a weight-loss operation, it is a contouring procedure. In other words, it aims to repair muscles, remove excess fat, tissue and skin and contour your waistline.
- Weight-loss surgery requires a weight loss surgeon (bariatric surgeon). A plastic surgeon can then help you after your weight loss journey is complete.
How much weight can you lose from having a Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty?
Weight loss from Abdominoplasty surgery greatly varies depending on how much excess skin and fat you had before surgery. It may only be a few kgs on the scales but in some cases, it can be as high as 5-8 kg. However, this is not the case for everyone.
The weight lost is excess skin, tissue and fat that the surgeon will remove during the surgery and is sometimes less than people expect. However, the overall outcome isn’t just about the weight that’s been physically lost, it’s often one of the final steps in the weight loss journey, that you have worked so hard towards.
Different types of Abdominoplasty
Standard or Traditional Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty with muscle repair
A traditional tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a popular cosmetic surgical procedure designed to address concerns related to the abdominal area. This procedure is suitable for individuals who have excess abdominal skin, separated abdominal muscles, or stubborn fat deposits that haven’t responded to diet and exercise.
During a traditional tummy tuck, an incision is made from hip to hip, allowing the surgeon to remove excess skin, tighten the underlying muscles, and contour the remaining tissue. This creates a smoother and firmer abdominal profile. Recovery time can vary, but most patients can return to normal activities within a few weeks. Traditional tummy tucks are often sought by post-pregnancy women, individuals who have experienced significant weight loss, or those looking to rejuvenate their abdominal appearance. A consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon is essential to determine if this procedure is suitable for your specific needs.
Partial Abdominoplasty – Skin Only – No Muscle repair
Partial abdominoplasty is a less extensive version of the traditional Abdominoplasty Surgery. This procedure may be suitable for individuals who have concerns primarily in the lower abdominal area. During a Partial Abdominoplasty, a smaller incision is made, typically below the bikini line, which allows for the removal of excess skin and fat below the belly button.
Unlike the traditional Abdominoplasty, the partial version does not involve muscle tightening, making the time on the operating table shorter. Partial Abdominoplasty is often suitable for individuals with less skin laxity or those who don’t require major muscle repair. It’s crucial to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to determine if a partial Abdominoplasty is the right option for your specific aesthetic goals.
This Abdominoplasty technique is especially beneficial for individuals with significant excess skin, not only in the abdominal area but also on the sides.
During an Extended Abdominoplasty, a longer incision is made, allowing the plastic surgeon to remove excess skin and fat from not only the lower abdomen but also the flanks and back.
While extended abdominoplasty provides more extensive results, it also comes with a slightly longer recovery period and a more noticeable scar. However, for individuals with substantial loose skin around the entire midsection, this procedure can be an excellent option.
Body Lift and Abdominoplasty for Significant Weight Loss Patients
- Patients that have lost upwards of 25kg sometimes have a larger amount of excess skin, fat and tissue which requires surgical removal to reduce both horizontal and/or vertical excess around the belly and/or back.
- A Belt Lipectomy, 360 or Circumferential Abdominoplasty removes excess skin all the way around your middle, from front to back. The incision is belt-like, around your mid-section.
- A Fleur De Lis Abdominoplasty removes excess skin with a vertical incision as well as the horizontal incision. This can also be called a corset abdominoplasty.