The joys of motherhood may be priceless, but there are some costs moms don’t want to pay – stretch marks and sagging skin around the belly, to name a few. But is tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, only for moms who have finished having kids? What about women who may want kids down the line? And can busy moms recover from tummy tuck surgery while still keeping up with their hectic daily schedules?
Eliminate stretch marks and baggy bellies
Tummy tuck surgery is most commonly thought of as a procedure for people who lost an enormous amount of weight and now find themselves stuck with loose, drooping flaps of skin in the mid-region. Abdominoplasty remedies this problem, removing excess skin and fat, and tightening the muscles of the stomach to produce a slimmer and flatter look. But as Dr. Tal T. Roudner – one of Miami’s most popular and highly rated plastic surgeons – explains, “Another benefit of a tummy tuck is that stretch marks located on the lower abdomen may be removed along with the excess skin.”
“I came to see Dr. Tal for a tummy tuck,” explains one of Dr. Roudner’s beaming patients. “I have two small children and after a long and hard birth and pregnancy I feel like it’s the final step in claiming my body back after motherhood.”
Is she happy with her post-tummy tuck results? “I feel leaner and toned. Everyone’s been talking about how young and fresh I look. I’ve never been more pleased with a decision in my life.”
Reducing and eliminating stretch marks and cesarean scars is a specialty of Dr. Fred Hackney, one of Dallas society’s go-to plastic surgeons, who routinely brings a unique and defining artistry to mini tummy tuck and full tummy tuck procedures.
“Some patients only have excess skin and fat below their belly button. They benefit most from a mini tummy tuck,” says Dr. Hackney. “Some patients only have excess skin and fat above AND below the belly button. These patients will achieve the best results from a full abdominoplasty.”
One of Dr. Hackney’s patients chose to have a tummy tuck not because of excess skin, but because of abnormalities and scarring from multiple pregnancies: “I had had four cesarean sections and a hysterectomy all through the same incision in my stomach and with all the pregnancies and all the surgeries it created quite a bit of scarring. Being sewn back together so many times with all the surgeries there was puckering, it wasn’t even.”
But can a tummy tuck truly reduce scarring from previous procedures in a significant way? According to Dr. Hackney’s patient, the answer is yes: “The scarring doesn’t even come into play at all. It’s minimal compared to what I had before the abdominoplasty. It’s changed the way I feel about me.”
When sit-ups and diets just won’t do the trick
For many moms interested in abdominoplasty, stretch marks aren’t the only problem they want to fix. “I’ve had patients tell me that they look at women their age on the beach, and no matter how fit and toned they are, the first thing they see is the little roll of fat hanging over the bikini line,” leading New York City plastic surgeon Dr. Aviva Preminger tell us. “And that’s all they can look at, and they’re thinking, ‘this is what other people see when they look at me.'”
When no diet or amount of crunches can eliminate the conspicuous bulge or pouch of skin that protrudes forward over the waistline, women may turn to abdominoplasty to get the results they’re looking for. But this problem of bulging bellies is not limited to women who have already gone through childbirth. Renowned Atlanta plastic surgeon Dr. Carmen Kavali puts to rest the myth that women must wait until they’ve finished having children to have tummy tuck surgery.
“You may certainly have a child after having a tummy tuck. There is no reason to delay your tummy tuck, particularly if another pregnancy isn’t imminent,” according to Dr. Kavali. “I would wait at least until you’re fully healed after your tummy tuck, a minimum of 4-6 months.”
How does recovery fit into a busy mom’s lifestyle?
Dr. Hockner’s patient reports on her comfortable recovery from tummy tuck surgery: “I camped out on the couch with my pillows behind me and had all my kids take care of me for the first three or four days and then I was good after that.”
Not every recovery period will be a breeze, of course, and patients are advised to have realistic expectations about the discomfort, swelling and immobility they will experience for weeks afterwards. Moms with busy schedules may have to learn to delegate while they heal, but the more scrupulous they are in following their doctor’s post-surgery instructions, the more comfortable they will feel.
Little decisions go a long way in optimizing your post-surgery recovery, according to top Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon Dr. Rady Rahban. Making sure you properly wear a compression garment, or “binder,” in the weeks following surgery, or even selecting the best quality tape for surgery scars can make a big difference in how you heal.
“Silicone sheets are useful but a bit difficult to use as they often do not stay on well and can create a reaction,” explains Dr. Rahban. “Personally I am a BIG fan of paper tape. There are many surgical tapes that are sold in drug stores, however, it is very important to purchase PAPER tape to avoid the burden of skin reactions from the adhesive of regular tape.”
Effects of childbirth don’t have to be permanent
Many women are perfectly content with how their bodies recover from giving birth. But for those who are unhappy with their appearance after the inevitable wear and tear of one or more pregnancies, tummy tuck surgery is a reliable and powerfully effective way to combat stretch lines, sagging stomach muscles and floppy skin.
“Women come to see me and are relived to finally share how unhappy they are with how their body looks,” says Dr. Preminger, herself a mother of three small children. “They’ve been finding ways to hide their bodies from their husbands or partners, they’re avoiding tight-fitting clothing, avoiding the beach. And the first thing I tell them is there’s nothing wrong with them, nothing terrible about how the body naturally reacts to childbirth. This is not irreversible, we can fix this.”