Tummy Tuck Patient Journey. When your first surgery doesn’t get you the result you want

best Tummy tuck

Second opinions about Tummy Tuck Surgery – and sometimes REVISION surgery – can make all the difference in patient outcomes when it comes to getting what you want from your surgery investment.

Abdominoplasty vs Apronectomy or Panelectomy – which procedure will get the patient a satisfactory result?

This snapshot describes a patient’s surgery journey after she was UNHAPPY with the surgery results of her FIRST Abdominoplasty. This was NOT a full abdominoplasty or diastasis repair, but rather an Apronectomy, performed by a General Surgeon NOT a Plastic Surgeon.

Her FIRST “Tummy Tuck” Surgery outcome was in stark contrast to her Revision Tummy Tuck by an expert Plastic Surgeon. WHY IS THAT?

Short answer: The FIRST opinion and surgery were NOT actually a full, nor customised, Abdominoplasty -it was more an Apronectomy (less complex, mostly skin flap removal) but this did NOT address her main appearance or skin concerns after she lost a lot of weight through healthy eating and regular exercise.

The second surgery, a Revision Tummy Tuck, was performed by a seasoned Plastic Surgeon.

Abdominoplasty Case Study: Results of Revisional Abdominoplasty after getting a Second Opinion about her Tummy Tuck

Key differences between the 1st Tummy Tuck and the 2nd Revision Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty Revision) – by Melbourne Plastic Surgeon Dr Craig Rubinstein

That secondary Abdominoplasty procedure/revision Tummy Tuck included customised, corrective surgery to the abdominal muscles as well as strategic liposuction. Here she discusses her Revisional Tummy Tuck, performed by a Specialist Plastic Surgeon – Dr Craig Rubinstein – compared to her first surgery (by a General Surgeon), and what it took to get to the decision making stage about going on the Surgeon’s Table for a second time.

This case study reminds us all that Plastic Surgery is NOT something to take lightly, and that Surgeons are not all equal in terms of their qualifications, experience and skillsets.

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There are many different types of Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) procedures – from a Full Tummy Tuck to a Mini-Tummy Tuck or Panniculectomy to a Belt Lipectomy

Background about Tummy Tuck Procedures and Patient Satisfaction – not all Abdominal Surgery is alike, and patients may be more satisfied with a full Abdominoplasty rather than a mini-Tummy Tuck or apronectomy, especially when they are left with folds of excess skin that sags and droops on their body after losing weight or after pregnancy.

Abdominoplasty procedures are some of the most popular plastic & cosmetic surgery procedures in Australia and overseas for women and men.  Although many men get Abdominoplasty surgery, women often have unique reasons that relate to childbirth or menopause.

  • Many Mums love their children but find themselves unhappy with their post-pregnancy body changes.
  • Post-pregnancy bodies often have droopy skin, stretch marks, cellulite and bulging bellies or drooping breasts.
  • Menopause hormonal changes and skin ageing can also lead to sagging belly skin that can’t be exercised away.

Why Abdominoplasty? Why didn’t the first one work in this scenario?

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  • Patients often want to make a change to their bodies that no amount of exercise or good nutrition can fix.
  • The solution is usually a Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty procedure that removes the excess skin and stubborn fat, as after the surgeon repairs the underlying core muscle tissues to allow the skin to lie smoother on the body.
  • This can also help with mild urinary incontinence and even back pain, as it improves your ability to exercise more effectively for core abdominal strength.
  • But if the procedure doesn’t address the patient’s main concerns, or all of the abdominal area region – including what you can’t see underneath (such as torn abs or diastasis recti) then there’s going to be a dissatisfied patient.
  • Another reason is weight, which impacts on the results; this patient was not at her optimal weight for her first procedure but even if she was, it was still only an apronectomy and she needed a full tummy tuck with extra liposuction to reach her objectives.
  • She was also not fully informed during her first surgery of what was required and what the procedure involved in terms of results; hence she was left disappointed and sought secondary, revision tummy tuck surgery, which for a patient with dissatisfaction after her first experience, was a “courageous undertaking” in her words.

Particularly after pregnancy, menopause and other hormonal fluctuations, Tummy Tucks and body contouring surgeries can give significant result to help remove your droopy stomach skin and smooth the abdominal area.

Many people who have a tummy tuck indicate on consumer forums that they are glad they did so. But not all Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty surgery is alike. Not all patients who have a Tummy Tuck are fully satisfied with their results. Especially if they don’t get the surgery required to meet their needs and physique or skin concerns. That’s why this patient required secondary revision Abdominoplasty surgery.

What generally leads to satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a Tummy Tuck surgery result?

  • Satisfaction with a surgery outcome involves a collaboration between the Surgeon and patient
  • Cooperative teamwork is essential for a great surgical result
  • It’s also important to understand what each surgery involves in terms of risks and results variability
  • Having a good understanding of the surgery recovery process, and what a procedure can – and cannot – accomplish, is also crucial to getting a satisfactory or even great result from surgery
  • So, too, is being at an ideal or stable weight (stable BMI) and not being too overweight or subjected to weight fluctuations

The key factors of a satisfactory surgical outcome can be broken down into four primary categories:

  • the patient’s psyche – Realistic? Prepared? Good timing to have surgery? Good Support for recovery and healing?
  • the patient’s overall health and well being including BMI, smoking status and stability of weight (Non-smoker? Healthy? Good immune system and skin health? Good healing capacity? Proper nutrition and rest? Not overly stressed?)
  • the surgical experience as a whole journey consisting of many different aspects (including pre-surgery awareness of the process, risks, scars and recovery requirements)
  • the outcome itself in terms of whether or not it met or exceeded patient expectations

Realistic expectations are very important as surgery can’t work miracles – what you start with WILL make an impact on your results.

Patience is also required after plastic surgery for the Abdomen. The outcome of a Tummy Tuck can also only be fully recognised AFTER adequate healing time has passed.

  • You’ll need to wait several months to see your results after tummy tuck procedure(s) or liposuction.
  • You’ll also need to wear the right support garments for the required amount of time.
  • Support garments and post-op healing are crucial aspects of getting a good tummy tuck surgery result and reducing scars.
  • This time and patience allow the bruising, swelling and scars to reside to see the final result.
  • This can take months to up to a year or longer, depending on the type of surgery.
  • Sometimes scar revisions or additional body contouring liposuction may be a part of tweaking the result.
  • Life events will impact your surgery result, and if you experience post-surgery changes such as additional pregnancy or weight changes, you may not get a good result.

Getting a good surgery result you’re quite satisfied with involves effective communication and respectful cooperation between YOU and YOUR Plastic Surgeon, including following protocols & recovery recommendations and NOT smoking. Weight stability is also important.

Being at an ideal weight before surgery is highly recommended by our Melbourne Plastic Surgeons.

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Surgery Dissatisfaction is no different – and it involves these same factors.

  • How you will feel about your results will involve a complex process.
  • It involves having realistic surgery expectations, knowing how to maximise your recovery time and how to best minimise your post-op scars.
  • It involves you having weight stability and ideal BMI to help you get the results you’re seeking through a surgical procedure.
  • Having realistic expectations is crucial.
  • Open dialogue and feeling free and comfortable to ask your surgeon’s questions is also paramount to having a good surgery experience vs a poor one or a dis-satisfactory surgical outcome.

Good surgery experiences also rely on the patient being patient during the healing and recovery period, knowing it might be weeks to months to up to a year before you’ll visualise the longer-term, non-swollen outcome or the maturation of your surgery scars.

It’s also about understanding that it’s quite common to be on a bit of a roller-coaster ride, emotionally, just after your procedure. (Be sure to read our Blog about riding the post-op roller coaster ride before your own surgery).

Questions to ask yourself about your surgery as you do your research and explore Tummy Tuck procedures recommended by your Plastic Surgeon.

In the case of Tummy Tuck Surgery outcomes, satisfaction – or dissatisfaction – are often in response to these 3 things.

Is it the best match between patient and surgery procedure?

    • Is that particular procedure going to MEET the patient’s NEEDS?
    • Is the selected procedure appropriate in relation to what the patient has to start with?
    • Does the patient understand the procedure and the recovery process?

Is a Belt Lipectomy a better procedure for a person with lower body heaviness all around the hips and upper legs, better for that person than a Full Tummy Tuck?

A highly experienced Surgeon who focuses on performing ALL types of custom Abdominal procedures (such as Dr Craig Rubinstein) can help you assess which one will suit your needs – whereas a less experienced Surgeon, or one who focuses only on ONE type of Abdominoplasty procedure – might simply choose the procedure they use the most.

Is the patient a suitable candidate for that procedure?

    • Is the patient’s weight stable and do they have a nutritional eating regime?
    • Are that at an appropriate or ideal weight for surgery?
    • Are they physically and emotionally prepared for the surgery & recovery process?
    • Are they a NON-smoker?

All of these will impact the patient’s healing and recovery process and – if not optimal – can impinge on risks and lead to poorer outcomes.

Is the procedure collaboration the best match between the particular patient and the chosen Plastic Surgeon?

Are the Patient & Surgeon working COLLABORATIVELY as a Team to get the BEST surgery results for the patient’s surgery journey?

  • Does the patient understand what THEY can do to get the best results and to facilitate healing?
  • Do they fully understand what the Surgeon or Surgery procedure can – and cannot – do for them?
  • Do they have realistic views on what surgery can accomplish and how long it might take?
  • Do they communicate and interact in a respectful way that involves EACH person listening and answering honestly? And both patient and Plastic Surgeon knowing what role(s) and actions they need to take to meet the surgery objectives for a pleasing result?

If you’re considering a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) or other major surgery procedure, it’s important to know what to expect and what can lead to dissatisfaction OR to satisfaction with the results and scars. So here’s an example of a patient’s story about her first Tummy Tuck surgery with a General Surgeon in her home town, and then her subsequent Revision.

Sheryl Brown’s tummy tuck journey

great Tummy Tuck Surgeon

Sheryl Brown’s amazing journey was covered in Women’s Day in October 2016.

Weight loss after pregnancy - the mummy makeover

Read the subsequent blog about her journey after her weight loss and second Tummy Tuck (the second by Dr Rubinstein) by clicking here for the October follow up blog.

Transformation Story – First Vs Second Tummy Tuck

Before and After Two Tummy Tuck Surgeries.

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And here’s what Sheryl looked like before her weight change journey releasing over 80 kilos:

tummy tuck surgery best results, best Tummy Tuck Plastic Surgeons Melbourne Sydney

Sheryl worked hard to achieve her significant weight ‘release’ and her second Tummy Tuck procedure helped her regain more natural-looking waistline and lower abdomen contours.  She reported to us that she wants to help others re-invent themselves and overcome unhealthy eating habits. Shortly after her Tummy Tuck with Dr Craig Rubinstein, she started her own healthy eating/healthy lifestyle coaching services to help others learn how to eat — and live — more healthily.   You can find her on the web – search for Sheryl Brown Victoria on Facebook.

Read Sheryl’s full transformation story on the Plastic Surgery Hub.

What leads to Patient Satisfaction with Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery and Tummy Tuck Procedures

According to Dr Craig Rubinstein, the best surgery results typically stem from a combination of ‘best matched’ factors.

  • Right Patient (Suitable Candidate)
  • Right Expectations (Realistic)
  • Right Preparation for Surgery
  • Right Procedure (Surgery Type)
  • Right Surgeon (Plastic Surgeon with extensive experience in the procedure)
  • Right Setting (Accredited Hospital)

That said, if you are expecting a full Tummy Tuck but get a Tummy Tuck that doesn’t include repair of damaged or split abdominal muscles — you are likely to be somewhat disappointed with your outcome. Or if you’d like to ask questions about a Surgery to remove excess stomach skin via a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty), liposuction or other body contouring surgeries, simply send us an enquiry below. We have many other patients Before and After Abdominoplasty Images in our Clinic, so if you’d like to see more examples, send an Enquiry form to arrange to meet with one of our Nurses or Patient Care Coordinators (or schedule a consult with a Specialist Surgeon). Or register to attend one of our FREE events.

Download a Tummy Tuck Surgery Guide

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Phone (03) 8849 1444 today – and ask for a no-obligation consultation.

Last updated: 17/03/2020
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Dr Geoff Barnett
Dr Geoffrey Barnett, FRACS (Plas) is a Melbourne based Specialist Plastic Surgeon who has over 35 years of expertise in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon for Cosmetic Surgery, Plastic Surgery and Body Contouring Surgery after Bariatric Surgery. Qualifications and Memberships: Specialist Plastic Surgeon (FRACS) Member - Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery [FRACS (Plast). The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is the only professional body recognised by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) to train Surgeons in Australia and New Zealand. Author BIO page: https://cocorubyplasticsurgery.com.au/dr-geoff-barnett/