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Tummy Troubles

Tummy Troubles

Having a baby is one of the most wonderful things we can do. That little person growing inside us is a fantastic and exciting experience.

Unfortunately sometimes our tummies don’t fit in with that wonderful experience. Even when we try very hard and get our weight back down as well as exercise, our tummies can remain a disappointing reminder what was otherwise wonderful.

So what are the changes that occur in our tummies with pregnancy?

Dr John Newton explains

“During pregnancy with the expansion of the uterus the abdominal muscles stretches. The rectus abdominus muscles (the six pack muscle), stretch vertically but unfortunately they usually undergo some separation laterally. This means that the tendon-like junction between the muscle in the middle of the tummy stretches. This tendon like structure is not always able to return back to its original status after the baby has been delivered and following the stretching force inside the abdomen the separation of the muscle remains. This separation of muscles can mean a loss of definition of the waist and of the tummy.”

But what about the skin? What happens there?

“The skin naturally has to stretch to accommodate the stretching inside the abdomen as well. Some weight gain, which is quite natural during pregnancy, adds to the requirement of the skin to stretch.

Some girls are very fortunate that they have quite good elasticity of the abdominal skin of the abdomen and stretch marks don’t occur. For others however, the skin is stretched beyond its elastic limit, and dismaying stretch marks can occur. They can be quite widespread extending up beyond the umbilicus (belly button).”

So what is the overall picture?

“The end result is quite variable. Some girls have tummies that go back to virtually their pre-pregnant status.

Unfortunately for others this does not happen. The combined effect of stretched muscle, stretched skin and retained fat can produce persisting change in the tummy which is resistant to improvement by exercise.”

There is no doubt that some of us find this a disturbing, disappointing and embarrassing problem. We might even go to the extent of visiting a Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon such as yourself, to see if it can be remedied by surgery. (in such cases, what can be done?)”

In such cases, what can be done?

“Well this is the classic circumstance where the ‘good old tummy tuck’ might be the most appropriate treatment for a girl.

Tummy tucks come in a variety of forms these days. They are essentially aimed at improving the appearance of the tummy via a surgical operation and the surgery can involve a number of components and those components are?

“The simplest form of tummy tuck is to excise an excess apron (as we refer to it) of fat and skin which can form across the lower abdomen. This is a reasonably simple procedure and may entail a reasonably short stay in hospital of perhaps one to two nights.

In girls with more extensive problems, including significant skin stretching, a significant apron and separation of the muscle, the operation then proceeds to become more extensive.

A limited removal of fat and skin can be accompanied by repair of the muscle between the belly button and the pubic bone to tighten up the lower half of the abdomen.

Some girls however, require a more full abdominoplasty where the elevation of the fat and skin goes right up to the rib cage. The belly button is disconnected and will be reconnected again in a new position at the end of the operation. This procedure allows the muscle to be repaired from the rib cage, right down to the pubic bone. It also allows for a more extensive apron of fat and skin to be removed.”

So a tummy tuck can be what I might imagine a tummy tuck to be in the form of a small operation but it can be a major procedure?

“Yes that is true, a full abdominoplasty is a big operation. It requires about three hours of operating time and generally the patients are in hospital between three and four nights.”

So is it worth it? Are girls happy when they have this done?

“I would say that almost invariably, girls that have a successful abdominoplasty are happy with the results.

Perfection may not be achieved and some subtle revisions may be required down the track. But by-and-large there is a very marked improvement in a girls abdominal appearance. It improves the way she feels about herself and it improves her ability to wear a variety of clothing.”

The tummy tuck as we call it can be a relatively minor procedure for some but a major procedure for others however it can be very rewarding for a girl in whom it is indicated.