Tummy Tuck and Abdominal Muscle Repair

A tummy tuck procedure (abdominoplasty) is designed to remove excess loose skin and underlying tissue following dramatic weight loss. It can be done alone or in conjunction with a liposuction procedure to remove stubborn pockets of abdominal fat that do not respond to exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.

Many patients who opt for a tummy tuck procedure are women who have had more than one pregnancy and now wish to regain their pre-pregnancy figure once they have decided not to have any more children. Such cases present extra care, as the muscles of the abdominal wall have been stretched and weakened as a result of gaining and losing pregnancy weight. By the time that these patients have decided to see Dr. Vincent Marin about the possibility of undergoing a tummy tuck procedure, it is likely that their abdominal muscles have weakened and sagged significantly.

How Does a Tummy Tuck Repair Weakened Abdominal Muscles?

In a tummy tuck procedure for just the lower abdomen, an incision is made from one hipbone across to the other one. If both the upper and lower abdomen require tightening (as can often be the case following one or more pregnancy), an additional incision is made around the belly button.

The skin and underlying tissue are gently lifted away, after which the rectus abdominus muscles (the muscles between the rib cage and the pubic region that form what is sometimes referred to as the “six pack”) are pulled together and sutured tight. The belly button will then be repositioned if necessary. The tissue and skin are then re-draped over the new contour of the abdomen, pulled tight, and then sutured back into place. Any excess skin and tissue are then removed.

What Should I Do to Keep My Stomach Flat after Recovery from a Tummy Tuck?

Once patients have gone through the initial healing phase of a tummy tuck procedure and had all surgical drains removed (generally by about four to six weeks after the procedure), they can start working on strengthening the abdominal muscles to improve posture, maintain results from the procedure, and guard against further abdominal sagging. Dr. Marin recommends that patients have a regular routine of core-strengthening activities, such as Pilates, weight training, or yoga. Of course, patients should also follow a sensible, balanced diet that is low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Over time, more vigorous exercise, such as running or swimming, can be added to the workout routine.

What Might Happen if the Abdominal Muscles Aren’t Tightened?

If the abdominal muscles are not tightened during a tummy tuck procedure, there is a risk that the abdominal muscles will continue to sag. Over time, particularly if the patient gains back some of their weight, this may result a less toned appearance.

In some rare cases, such as the skin only needing a minimal amount of tightening, a tummy tuck will be performed without tightening the abdominal muscles. But in most cases, Dr. Marin feels it is better to include tightening of the muscles.

About the Author:

Dr. Vince Marin is a San Diego board-certified plastic surgeon specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face, nose, breast and body. If you wish to contact Dr. Marin, write to [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter!