After pregnancy and childbirth, some women have extra skin and fat in the abdomen that is difficult or impossible to eliminate with only diet and exercise. In addition, the belly skin stretches to accommodate the baby during pregnancy and won’t always ‘bounce back’ after the baby is born.
That’s why many mothers want to have a tummy tuck after pregnancy, also called abdominoplasty. This popular procedure removes extra skin and fat from the abdomen, then the remaining skin is pulled down to make the belly flatter.
Other reasons you may want a tummy tuck to include:
- Other abdominal surgeries, such as a C-section
- Major weight changes
A tummy tuck also can remove stretch marks on the abdomen and tighten the abdominal muscles. If you have a lot of extra fat in the belly, liposuction can be used. But patients who are more than 10 or 15 pounds overweight should lose it before a tummy tuck.
Below is critical information to consider if you are thinking about a tummy tuck.
Tummy Tuck Procedure Overview
Several procedures can be used during a tummy tuck. Which the surgeon uses depends on your anatomy and aesthetic goals.
The most common procedure is a full tummy tuck, which is appropriate if there is loose skin above and below the belly button. The other procedure is a mini tummy tuck which works if the only loose skin is above the navel.
After the loose skin and extra fat are removed, the remaining skin is tightened and sutured. The surgeon also may tighten the abdominal muscles with internal sutures. This may be needed for pregnant women because the muscles may have gotten separated during that time.
Tummy Tuck Age Limits
Many patients wonder if you can be too old for a tummy tuck, such as 50 or more. There’s no age limit for having this procedure; it’s possible to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen in older patients.
However, as patients enter their 50s, 60s, and beyond, there are several considerations for having any surgery:
- You need to not smoke or use nicotine products for at least a month before and after surgery
- It’s essential to be in good health and tolerate anesthesia and significant surgery without excessive risk.
- You should be close to your ideal weight because heavier patients have more complications
- You need to have plenty of time to rest and recover, especially as an older patient
Regardless of age, you should have realistic expectations of the surgery and not expect it to reverse the aging process.
Also, remember that separated abdominal muscles, called diastasis recti, are common for women who have had more than one child. Separated abdominal muscles may give the belly a protruding experience no matter how much you diet and exercise.
One of the other benefits of a tummy tuck is the surgeon can reattach the abdominal muscles with internal sutures. In addition to removing loose belly skin, this procedure will give the stomach a flat and smooth appearance.
Additionally, repairing the abdominal muscles is essential for older women because it can cause lower back pain and even disc herniation. Improving the strength of your abdominal wall can enhance your balance, comfort, and posture as you get older.
After The Tummy Tuck
After the procedure, the incision above or below the belly button will be covered with bandages. The surgeon may insert drains to remove extra blood and fluid, but they are usually removed after three days.
Some patients may go home the same day, but your medical team might keep you overnight. Likewise, if a friend or family member takes you home, they should stay with you overnight.
You’ll be sore and unable to stand up entirely for a few weeks, so if you have small children, help will be required around the house.
The surgeon will give you prescription pain medication for the first one or two weeks. Expect pain, swelling, and bruising, but they will fade after a few weeks. Take Tylenol if pain lasts after the first two weeks.
Your surgeon will fit you with an abdominal binder that you must wear for six weeks, except when showering. This will reduce swelling and avoid fluid buildup. It also gives the abdomen more support during the healing process.
Remember that it will take at least one or two months to fade most of the swelling. This means you need to be patient for your results, but the wait is worth it.
Tummy Tuck Risks
Most tummy tucks go well without significant complications. But remember: This is major surgery, and there are risks. The most common complications are:
- Seroma: This is fluid accumulation under the abdominal incision. Drainage tubes usually are inserted to remove extra fluid.
- Poor healing: The incision area may not heal properly and become infected. Thes surgeon can provide antibiotics to clear this up.
- Excessive scarring: The incision from the procedure is permanent. But it’s hidden where the underwear and bikini line is. How long depends on the surgeon and procedure.
- Tissue damage: Fatty tissue in the abdomen could die after the procedure. Smoking makes this outcome more likely. If it happens, you may need more surgery.
- Sensation changes; Moving the abdominal muscles can affect the abdominal nerves and sometimes the upper thighs. This usually goes away after a few months.
A tummy tuck offers many women a flat stomach and higher self-confidence. Complications are rare, and the procedure can work well in people over 50.
Request A Tummy Tuck Consultation
Thinking about a tummy tuck in Beverly Hills? Dr. Nicholas Lahar is pleased to provide plastic surgery procedures to his Beverly Hills patients. He will discuss your aesthetic goals during your consultation and help you decide if you are a good candidate for this procedure.
Tummy Tuck Overview. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck
About Tummy Tuck. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tummy-tuck/about/