It’s no secret that pregnancy takes a toll on a woman’s body, specifically on the abdominal muscles. One of the most prominent bodily changes occur when the left and right abdominal muscles begin to pull apart as the baby grows — also known as a diastasis recti. This separation takes time to heal after giving birth, and many times the muscles never fully recuperate, resulting in sagging skin and an otherwise unattractive stomach. Diet and exercise can help, but some muscles require plastic surgery to regain their original structure. An abdominoplasty is one of the most effective measures taken to restore the muscles and remove excess skin in the abdominal area.
What Happens to the Muscles During Pregnancy?
Diastasis recti occurs when the abdominal muscles begin to separate from one another. Normally, the abdominal muscles are aligned side-by-side with a very narrow opening in between. However to accommodate a baby, the left and right muscles separate from one another, creating an opening down the centre of the abdomen. What’s left is a thin layer of tissue supporting the uterus and bowels, which can cause many issues before and after pregnancy. Typically the abdominal muscles will return to their original position a few weeks after giving birth, however there are some cases where the muscles don’t contract and end up creating a sagging pooch in the stomach. When this happens, corrective surgery may be necessary to return the stomach to a functional shape.
How Can a Tummy Tuck Help?
An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck simply takes excess skin and fat and removes it from the abdomen. The muscles are also tightened in order to create a more toned stomach. Depending on the extent of laxity in the abdominal region, a full or mini tummy tuck may be performed. A tummy tuck can specifically benefit a post-pregnancy body by restructuring the stretched abdominal muscles. Tightening the abdomen can provide more support for and improve the functionality of other organs in the body.
A full abdominoplasty involves an incision below the underwear line where skin and fat are separated from the muscles underneath the navel. A second incision is made around the navel where the fat is removed from the surrounding muscles and placed near the ribs, essentially repositioning the navel. The abdominal muscles are stitched together in order to narrow the waistline and create a firmer stomach; any left over skin is stretched downward to close the incision and any excess is removed. Lastly, the incisions will be closed, sutured and covered with dressings.
During a mini tummy tuck, a smaller incision is made under the underwear line and the skin is only separated within the lower incision — a second incision around the navel is not created. Any loose skin and excess fat is removed from the lower incision and the exposed muscles are tightened as well. Since mini abdominoplasty is not as extensive, it takes around half the time of a full abdominoplasty, which can take up to three hours. The procedure is also ideal for women who do not have the amount of skin necessary to warrant a full tummy tuck.
You can begin considering a tummy tuck six months after giving birth, and the procedure can have long-lasting results when future pregnancies are avoided. However, because diastasis recti leaves only minimal girth to maintain organ placement, subsequent vaginal births may become more difficult if the condition is not corrected. It is vital that abdominal muscles are in their proper position in order to avoid any health concerns, which is why tightening the muscles with abdominoplasty has been an effective treatment option. Overall, a tummy tuck can return your figure back to its pre-pregnancy state and not only have cosmetic benefits, but functional contributions as well.
Is Abdominoplasty Right for You?
If you have unwanted skin and fat around your abdominal area that diet and exercise don’t seem to affect, then a tummy tuck may be what you need to gain a tighter stomach. Excess skin can make many women feel unattractive and cause them to hide concerning areas of their bodies. With a tummy tuck, you can take back your body and rejuvenate your appearance.
Women who are in good general health after pregnancy and who have no underlying medical conditions are typically good candidates for tummy tuck surgery. The procedure performed will largely depend on your skin elasticity, muscle tone and whether or not you plan to lose any more weight. It is important to note that the tummy tuck procedure will require significant recovery time, and you may need some assistance while you heal. It may be helpful to coordinate care-takers for any young children, prepare meals and organise your home before undergoing surgery. At Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery, we recommend scheduling an initial consultation in order to review the expectations, risks, costs and care instructions that may occur before, during and after your procedure. A consultation can ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the procedure at hand and help you make an informed decision about reshaping your body.
Side Effects of Abdominoplasty
As with most cosmetic procedures, there are potential side effects involved. Mainly, some internal bleeding may occur beneath the skin, which can easily be resolved by removing some of the sutures in place. Additionally, abnormal scars may result from the incision, particularly in individuals who have a history of poor scarring. Infection is rare, but may occur during recovery along with blood clots in the leg.
Understanding the risks involved in tummy tuck surgery is vital for your wellbeing. The professionals at Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery will provide detailed information and care instructions so as to minimise as many risks as possible, and if you experience any complications while you heal at home, you may contact our office with any concerns. The best way to determine whether a tummy tuck will benefit your body after pregnancy is to schedule a consultation with Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery by calling us on 9508 9508.