Many of the patients who we see are women who are within the age range society calls “childbearing,” which means that sometimes the results that they get from plastic surgery may later be altered by the changes that pregnancy and breastfeeding bring about. Previously we’ve talked about repairing the damage that aging and pregnancy have caused with a mommy makeover. But what should women know beforehand about a procedure like a tummy tuck in order to time plastic surgery procedures to get the maximum effect?
First of all, a tummy tuck is a procedure that is performed after the abdomen has been under stress like pregnancy or a large weight gain. Pregnancy, while natural, isn’t easy on a woman’s body as her uterus expands enormously, permanently expanding the difference between the rectus muscles (what is commonly referred to as a six-pack), stretching and expanding them and the overlying skin. Think of the muscles parallel looking like “II” before pregnancy and stretched apart looking like “()” after pregnancy. After delivery, even with weight loss, that skin and those muscles remain stretched - they do not bounce back to their pre-pregnancy state. Many times they are simply not that elastic.
A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, repairs that damage by tightening those muscles, pulling them back together and removing the excess stretched skin. It can also remove some scars and stretch marks if those are a part of the damaged skin able to be removed. While it is certainly possible to get pregnant again after a tummy tuck operation, all of the work done would be undone as the uterus expands once again.
Life can be complicated. Unexpected or surprise pregnancies happen all the time. It’s always wise for a patient to discuss with her surgeon any expected changes in her life, however, in order to maintain the results of the original tummy tuck, avoiding another pregnancy or large weight gain would be the best course. Can another tummy tuck or a revision of the original tummy tuck be done? Yes, certainly, that is an option. However, in order to avoid the cost and recovery from multiple surgeries, it’s always wise to plan ahead.
It’s important to note that any damage that occurs because of a pregnancy after a tummy tuck will be to the results of that tummy tuck. It will not affect the pregnancy itself or endanger the baby in any way, and, of course, there is no warranty for the changes from pregnancy.
Previously we went over a number of great reasons to get a tummy tuck, and they focused on the aesthetic, which is why people get tummy tucks, honestly: because they desire a better, younger, tighter looking body. However, there are additional health benefits that can result from a tummy tuck, and you may appreciate them as well as you appreciate your new and improved figure.
Umbilical and Ventral hernia correction - A hernia is “a bulge through an opening of the muscles on the abdomen. The hernia can occur at a past incision site (incisional), above the navel (epigastric), or other weak muscles sites (primarily abdominal).” This happens when abdominal tissue or intestine breaks through the abdominal muscle wall and creates a pocket or sack. It can happen as a result of significant weight loss or a surgery such as a cesarean section or appendectomy which means it’s frequently present in patients who seek tummy tucks for aesthetic reasons. The tightening of abdominal muscles that happens during an abdominoplasty also repairs a hernia.
Back pain relief and better posture - Removing a significant amount of fat around the abdomen can both take pressure off of the spine. The tightening of the abdominal muscles also helps to improve posture which, for people with back problems and back pain, can provide unexpected pain relief. Overall, the tighter core a patient possesses after surgery aids in a number of noticeable ways related to strength and flexibility.
Increased exercise tolerance - Post-surgery, patients who have had a tummy tuck report an increased ability to exercise and often feel freer to pursue their athletic goals because they have leapt over a barrier of self-consciousness about their bodies.
Reduced urinary incontinence - Delivering a baby vaginally can result in Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) which most women experience as uncontrollable leaking when they laugh, cough, sneeze, or exercise. Studies have shown that many women (25-60%) report improvement in this after abdominoplasty which can be a very significant side benefit.
People may think that tummy tucks are only for women or only for women who have had children and wish to restore their pre-baby bodies, but in reality people - both women and men - choose to undergo the abdominoplasty procedure for a number of reasons. Here are five great ones we at Bancroft Feldman hear all of the time:
A tummy tuck turns back the clock. This isn’t just true for women. Men in middle age have a tendency to thicken around the middle as well. A flat stomach not only looks fitter, it looks younger too. An abdominoplasty tightens the inner girdle, the muscles of the abdominal wall, and your plastic surgeon can shape your abdomen back into its former sexy shape.
A tummy tuck removes scars and stretch marks. Any kind of surgery done on your abdomen, whether to address a hernia, take out an appendix (or a baby!), or treat a medical condition will leave scars. Very few women manage to get through pregnancy without developing some stretch marks. If you’d rather these reminders of your body trauma were not on your skin forever, a tummy tuck is a very good solution.
A tummy tuck accomplishes what diet and exercise can’t on their own. The media is full of articles about the miraculous benefits of self-discipline, diet, and exercise, but, in reality, some of the damage of aging can’t be starved away or run off even with the most punishing routines. That can only be done through surgery, often a combination of liposuction and abdominoplasty.
A tummy tuck gets rid of loose skin after weight loss. Whether you’ve lost weight through diet or bariatric surgery, what people don’t tell you is that serious weight gain permanently stretches your skin. A tummy tuck will make it possible to show off your thinner body without any of the loose skin that comes with significant weight loss.
We are all familiar with weight loss in America - both the successes and the failures. Unfortunately for many people, even the most disciplined, diet and exercise will not get rid of the last layer of stubborn fat that remains. To accomplish that they will need surgery; however, patients who are considering liposuction as a way to fix their figure problems want to know that the procedure will have long-term positive effects.
Liposuction is the surgical and permanent removal of fat cells. Your plastic surgeon will make a small incision in the area or areas you’ve chosen to target for body sculpting, insert a thin tube called a cannula, and then vacuum out the fat cells through a flexible pipe. After liposuction, those fat cells are gone and will not return. This means that any weight gain after the surgery will occur much less in those areas, as there are fewer fat cells remaining there to expand with new fat. It doesn’t mean that weight gain anywhere is off the table. To maintain your improved figure, diet and exercise will continue to be important parts of your lifestyle.
At Bancroft Feldman we advise our Houston area patients to have realistic expectations of their liposuction procedure. Those fat cells are gone and will not grow back, but if a patient goes on to gains a significant amount of weight after their procedure, new fat cells can form, and new figure problems will emerge.
Americans are all about weight loss, and the process of losing a significant amount of weight truly is a triumph of discipline and determination. Unfortunately, many people find that after they have met their weight loss goals, particularly when that means 100 or more pounds lost, they have a new problem: loose skin. This is because the body’s skin stretches all over as a person gains weight in the arms, abdomen, breasts, face, and legs, but its normal elasticity is not enough to spring itself back into its former tautness.
Obesity is a national problem, but it’s also a highly personal one for millions of Americans. It’s highly discouraging for men and women who have worked and sacrificed to recover their former health and bodies to realize that there is no magic reset button when the weight is all gone. Muscle and skin damage has occurred, and even with a lot of additional effort in diet and exercise, they will never have the trim bodies that “skinny” people take for granted.
Fortunately, there are solutions for this including abdominoplasty or, as it’s more commonly known, the tummy tuck. Plastic surgeons can remove the additional skin and restore the patient’s figure to its original form. What’s more, research has shown that tummy tucks or other body contouring procedures actually aid the patient in keeping additional weight off. Compared with people who have lost weight but not had surgery, abdominoplasty patients gain a quarter of the same weight back annually. The psychological benefits of maintaining a desired figure and not reverting back to the body they worked so hard to leave behind cannot be overstated.