A major breakthrough occurred in my practice this week. For the first time I performed an Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) complete with liposuction to the upper abdomen and hips, and my female patient went home a few hours after the operation. In other words, a tummy tuck was performed as a day procedure.
I have been performing tummy tucks since I commenced practice more than 27 years ago. Commonly my patients have been staying in hospital 2-3 days before going home. American Plastic Surgical colleagues have been performing tummy tucks as day procedures for years, however this has been rare in Australia.
What has brought about the change?
Two years ago, Medicare withdrew the use of an item number for most people suitable for a tummy tuck. When there is no Medicare item number for a procedure, all costs are out of pocket, irrespective of whether the person has Health Insurance or not. Two to three nights in hospital can be quite expensive so we have been looking for an alternative.
Anaesthetics are so much better nowadays. Anaesthetists are highly trained specialists who can adapt their anaesthetic to the patient, so they wake up without nausea or pain. I have been working with my Anaesthetist, Dr Maurie Amir, for more than 30 years and I know my patients are safe in his hands.
My plastic surgical colleague, Dr Allan Kalus, has shown me how to do a special Local Anaesthetic block around the nerves of the tummy, dramatically reducing post-operative pain. (Dr Kalus has been performing tummy tuck procedures as a day procedure at the Windsor Private Hospital for some time).
Every woman hates drains and I no longer use them. I use a special quilting technique beneath the tummy skin that reduces pain and drains are not required.
The nurses at the Windsor Private Hospital are first class and know what to do in order for you to safely get out of bed and get moving, whilst feeling you are in the very best of care.
Once you are home, your post-operative pain relief is closely monitored to minimize your discomfort.
Overall, Tummy Tuck as a day procedure is less expensive and means you can safely recover in the privacy of your own home. It is not for everyone but I think it will become the norm rather than the exception and has added another exciting option into our practice.