Combined Incisional Hernia Repair and Abdominoplasty “Tummy Tuck”
An incisional hernia is a weakness which has developed in part of the muscle layer of the abdominal wall at the site of a previous abdominal operation. It produces the bulging out of loops of bowel contained within a sac which is covered only by the skin and the underlying layer of subcutaneous fat. An incisional hernia often causes the patient varying intensity of pain, can appear unsightly and has the potential of producing obstruction or strangulation of its contents.
Causes of an incisional hernia are usually multifactorial but very often it is associated with some degree of obesity. Thus, in addition to the bulging hernia, the patient may also have an associated unsightly overhang of redundant abdominal skin and subcutaneous fat.
Rationale for the combined operation
Repair of the incisional hernia may be indicated on clinical grounds. If it is, and if there is also a significant associated overhang, it may be prudent to incorporate an abdominoplasty with the hernia repair. The advantages of the combined operation are:-
- By lifting up the entire abdominal skin and subcutaneous fat, the margins of the incisional hernia can be very clearly defined and the repair can be carried out with precision.
- There is a marked improvement in the patient’s cosmetic appearance. The combined operation removes a large amount of redundant skin and underlying fat, usually also incorporating the previous scar, thus producing a very significant cosmetic improvement.
Key points of the operation
- The incision is transverse across the lower abdomen, below the bikini line.
- The entire skin and subcutaneous fat layer of the abdominal wall is raised, up to the level of the rib cage, except for the umbilicus itself, which is left in situ as a small island, in its normal position.
- If an incisional hernia is present, it is now repaired using a large sheet of prolene mesh. The rest of the abdominal wall is also tightened using non-absorbable nylon sutures.
- The redundant overhang of skin and subcutaneous fat is trimmed off and the residual flap is pulled down to the transverse incision line. Before closing the transverse incision, a small opening is made in the flap to allow the undisturbed umbilicus to emerge in its normal position. This is sutured into place.
- The wound is closed under some tension, giving the tummy a taut appearance. The lines of tension are designed so that they are directed inwards, thus creating a new and more attractive waistline.
- In the immediate post-operative period a special corset is worn by the patient in order to apply firm and constant pressure on the abdomen. Pillows are placed under the thighs so as to minimise the tension on the wound.
- Physiotherapy is an important element in the post-operative management. Thus respiratory problems are minimized, as is the risk of calf thrombosis (DVT).
- There is a small risk of a wound infection, or of fluid accumulation under the abdominal skin flap. There is also a very low risk of loss of viability of the umbilicus.
It should be noted than an abdominoplasty is not recommended in a patient who is grossly obese. It is largely ineffective in improving the cosmetic appearance in such a patient and would also be associated with a much higher risk of post-operative complications.
Cost of Surgery
Because both an abdominoplasty and incisional hernia repair have MBS item numbers ascribed to them, they are claimable from both Medicare and the patient’s own private health insurance. These would cover a significant portion of the cost of the surgery, although there will still be a residual out-of-pocket sum left to pay. This would be discussed at the time of the initial consultation.
Mr. Leinkram has much experience in performing abdominoplasties both with and without an associated incisional hernia. Being a General Surgeon with a special interest in hernias, he would be able to deal with all kinds of incisional hernias, irrespective of their complexity. Patients who request the operation would first need to see Mr. Leinkram and undergo a full clinical assessment. Any associated medical conditions and any medications being taken by the patients would be noted. The operation and any potential complications of surgery would be full discussed, as would the cost of the surgery.
‘Rate My Doctor’ Patient reviews of Incisional Hernias performed by Mr Charles Leinkram:
1. “I am from Northern Victoria. After having some very disappointing experiences with local health professionals and hospitals – including a very poorly managed ruptured appendix and surgery, plus failed incisional hernia repair – I was diagnosed again with an incisional hernia. So I traveled down to Mr Charles Leinkram. Not only did he repair what turned out to be a very large incisional hernia, but I also had an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) at the same time. I could not be more delighted with the results. I finally have my hernia repaired properly as well as a lovely flat stomach. My husband is also very pleased and I have some very jealous girlfriends. .Right from my first consultation with Mr Leinkram through to after care I found him to be an absolute professional in every way and just a lovely caring man . I also found his team that he employes to be true professionals especially Gill his receptionist (lovely lady) along with the physicians. The care that I received at Mitcham Private Hospital was also exceptional . There are some out of pocket expenses but it’s like anything you get what you pay for. I would highly recommend Mr Leinkram to anyone with similar problems to me, he is just a totally dedicated professional.”
2. “When my GP confirmed that I had a non-retractable umbilical hernia I wondered if it was possible to have a tummy tuck at the same time as a hernia repair. I had plenty of surplus skin after a significant weight loss 10 years ago. I was fortunate to find Mr Charles Leinkram who has specialised in such a combination for many years. I could not be happier with the results. He was able to repair my hernia without the need for a mesh and I now have a beautifully sleek tummy. It is a major surgery and does take time to recover even for someone quite fit. I am now 4 weeks post-op and mending well. I am looking forward to be back playing golf in another couple of weeks and most of all I am very glad I chose to have the whole procedure performed by a very experienced and particular surgeon, Mr Leinkram.”
Preoperative front view
Preoperative side view