Dr Steve Merten recently sat down to answer common questions about the tummy tuck procedure. Covering the consultation all the way to the recovery period, our experienced plastic surgeon provides details to help patients understand what they can expect throughout the process. Take a look at the following information to learn more about this popular procedure, and feel free to contact us if you would like to schedule an appointment.

Q: What steps do you take to help patients choose the most effective tummy tuck treatment plan?
Dr Merten: “Tummy tuck”, or abdominoplasty as it is properly named, is a plastic surgery procedure to correct loose tissues of the abdomen, including the skin, fat, and the underlying muscles. I see patients with concerns about their abdominal tone and contour, particularly after pregnancy and major weight loss. When the baby is growing inside the abdomen, the muscles of the abdomen are pushed apart and the skin is stretched. Unfortunately, this does not always return to normal, especially after several children or twins, or significant weight loss.

Every patient is different in how they have been affected. Some patients have muscles in good condition, but loose skin, others the reverse, and others again have multiple problems. After careful physical examination I tailor the surgery to address the exact problem. At the same time, I also assess other areas of concern, as many of my patients also want surgery to improve their breast shape or size with a breast enlargement, or reduce excess skin and fat of their flanks or thighs with liposuction. Many patients choose to address several of these at a single surgery to achieve more dramatic outcomes and reduce their recovery time.

Q: How do you determine a patient’s candidacy for a full tummy tuck versus a mini tummy tuck?
DM: The difference between a “full” and “mini” tummy tuck comes down to the amount of loose skin, and the degree of separation of the abdominal muscles. The “mini” abdominoplasty has a shorter incision in the pubic area and does not move the belly button, so it is only suitable for patients whose problems are only in the lower abdomen. If there is loose skin and muscle above the belly button, then usually a “full” abdominoplasty is needed to achieve more correction.

In the “full” abdominoplasty, the belly button is freed from the skin, and the skin is fully lifted off the muscles, from the pubis to the rib cage. This allows me to repair the stretched muscles from the breastbone all the way down to the pubis. This method then allows for the maximum amount of loose skin to be removed, giving improvement across the whole abdomen. We then bring the belly button through a new hole, completing the surgery. Click here to view the animation video on my website, which demonstrates this surgery.

Q: What have you specifically heard from patients about the recovery process and results from tummy tuck surgery?
DM: Tummy tucks are one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures, with a very high rate of satisfaction. Most patients find that their confidence is improved, and they are more comfortable both in and out of clothes. Most patients also find that their ability to exercise is improved, and back pain is often improved as well, as the muscles of the abdomen are now working in a more efficient position. I always stress, however, that this is a significant operation, with a moderate amount of early pain and discomfort from the muscle repair. It takes at least six weeks to recover from a full tummy tuck, and the scars take a year or longer to fade.

Q: When you discuss tummy tuck surgery with patients at their consultation, what are their initial expectations and goals?
DM: Most of the patients I see have tried hard to restore their abdominal shape through diet and exercise, but haven’t succeeded as the stretched muscle and skin really can’t self-correct. They often feel embarrassed with their partner or friends, and avoid having their abdomen exposed. In Australia, with our outdoor lifestyle, this is a real problem. Most of my patients have the support of their partners and family and have been thinking about the surgery for a long time.

I stress that the surgery can improve the loose muscles and skin but does not address excessive weight, so it won’t make someone thin unless they already are. I always recommend waiting until they don’t plan to have more children, and if actively losing weight, to have surgery when they reach their goal. My goal is to give all my patients the best possible abdominal shape for their physique, with as minimal scarring as possible.

Contact Dr Steve Merten

If you would like more information on tummy tuck surgery, or if you would like to schedule a consultation here at Pure Aesthetics to talk about your options, please contact Dr Steve Merten today.