Dr Graham Sellars, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Wahroonga NSW, has performed hundreds of abdominoplasty procedures and helps us to clarify some of the reasons as to why you should, and should not, undergo an abdominoplasty. “An abdominoplasty is not and should not be seen as a substitute for weight loss or exercise routine. This is a point I want to reinforce to all patients. The procedure also cannot correct stretch marks and other similar problems.”
When we think of the traditional tummy tuck surgery the motivations are usually due to excess skin from massive weight loss (MWL) or after bearing children. However, there are now other reasons you might consider having an abdominoplasty and some of them might surprise you. We look at these reasons below.
This is what the majority of patients who undergo an abdominoplasty are there for. Whether it is from losing a large amount of weight, or because of stretched skin after pregnancy, no matter how hard you exercise or diet, if we have a large amount of stretched skin the only way to get rid of it is to have it cut off… or an abdominoplasty. The surgeon usually removes a percentage of excess fat at the same time.
Tightening of Loose Skin on Thighs
Yes, you read correctly! Skin is completely affected by gravity… loose skin around the belly and abdomen area can also lead to loose skin around your pelvis and thigh area. Having that skin tightened during an abdominoplasty can in fact assist to pull up the skin around the thighs.
Abdominal Muscle Tightening/Repairing Muscle Separation
After childbirth the rectus muscles in your belly can separate. This can cause a bulging of the abdomen and can even make the woman appear pregnant when she is not. Also known as diastasis, this muscle separation can cause other side effects such as back pain, poor posture, loss of core strength and pelvic floor muscle weakness (leading to incontinence) which we will discuss in more detail below.
Dr Sellars clarifies how an abdominoplasty works to tighten muscles, “The abdominal muscles are surgically tightened by suturing them back into the correct position, which then gives the tummy a more toned and taut shape.”
As mentioned above, during pregnancy and childbirth, the stomach muscles can be stretched and split – this can also cause hernias to form whereby the abdomen contents (i.e. the intestines) poke through the split in the muscles. This can be extremely uncomfortable and often very painful. If not addressed accordingly, they can lead to eruption of the intestine and peritonitis – a life threatening condition. Men are also subject to these hernias particularly if their occupation involves strenuous movement and twisting of the stomach muscles. Whether male or female, hernias can be excruciatingly painful. Whilst there are specific hernia operations, a plastic surgeon is definitely able to repair any hernia during an abdominoplasty.
Pelvic floor muscles are those muscles that support the pelvic organs – in women these are your bladder, bowel and uterus. Of course, these are the exact muscles that are stretched during pregnancy; so unfortunately what happens in a large percentage of women is these stretched muscles can cause incontinence, or light bladder leakage. The wonderful thing is that surgeons have identified that women undergoing abdominoplasties have reported a significant improvement in their incontinence issues after a repairing of these muscles. So if you experience a regular leaking of urine, you might want to consult with a plastic surgeon to consider if an abdominoplasty might be right for you.
Tightening the muscles in the abdomen and removing excess skin and fat (leading to less weight being carried by the patient) leads to an increase in your core strength. Your core strength is held in your abdomen or belly and your core strength determines your posture. As mentioned above, muscle separation can cause a weakening of the muscles in the abdomen or belly area and this is what enables you to have sufficient strength to stand up straight. A loss of strength in the muscles in your abdomen area can lead to significant strain on your back, and neck, in order to hold yourself up. This can be rectified with an abdominoplasty. A large percentage of abdominoplasty patients report that their back and neck pain, and often the headaches that come with such terrible pain, have reduced or even disappeared after their procedure.
So, not only is an abdominoplasty good from an aesthetic point of view… removing excess skin, fat and tightening the skin; it is also an important procedure to improve our function and strength and reduce any associated pain and discomfort.
Dr Sellars says, “An abdominoplasty can also improve your self-confidence, motivation and ability to exercise. As in all cosmetic surgery, it is important for you to tell your surgeon the specific areas that concern you. These may include loose skin, stretch marks, fatty bulges, loose abdominal wall muscle tone, rashes, backache and difficulty with clothes. All of the issues mentioned above.”
If you would like more information on Dr Sellars click here, or if you would like to arrange a consult you can contact him directly on 02 9473 8577.