“Tummy tucks” are one of the most commonly-sought cosmetic procedures by our Boston tummy tuck surgeon. A tummy tuck is for those with saggy or loose skin who want a flatter midsection but are not getting it with diet and exercise alone.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons tells us that in 2017, more than 129,000 “tummy tuck” operations were performed in the United States. A tummy tuck can help you have that flatter abdomen that you desire.

Moreover, there are some recently discovered – and unexpected – health benefits to having a tummy tuck that you may not be aware of.

HOW CAN A TUMMY TUCK ACTUALLY IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH?

Researchers in Australia have found that for women who have given birth, for example, a tummy tuck can reduce their problems with urinary incontinence and decrease their back pain.

Before we look at the unexpected health benefits that a tummy tuck (technically called an “abdominoplasty”) can deliver, let’s first define who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck procedure.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD TUMMY TUCK CANDIDATE?

Generally speaking, good surgery candidates include those women and men who want excess fat and skin in the lower abdomen area removed surgically because that fat and skin has been resistant to change through their exercise and diet regimens.

Good tummy tuck candidates also have a positive attitude and realistic expectations for cosmetic surgery, and they need to be non-smokers as well.

In the New England area, before you make any final decision regarding any cosmetic procedure, consult first with a skilled plastic surgeon who can address your concerns and provide the insights and answers you need.

WHAT IS DIASTASIS RECTI?

After pregnancy, a tummy tuck operation can help women with abdominal muscles that have been stretched and then remained lax after giving birth. That looseness happens when abdominal muscles are pulled during pregnancy. It is a condition known as diastasis recti.

The muscles impacted by diastasis recti do not naturally regain their tightness, even with rigorous diet and exercise.

To deal effectively with diastasis recti, your cosmetic surgeon can do a tummy tuck combined with a rectus repair, a procedure which uses sutures to tighten the abdominal muscles.

WHAT DID RESEARCHERS LEARN STUDYING TUMMY TUCK PATIENTS?

According to research recently published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a rectus repair can also help women with urinary incontinence problems and back pain problems after childbirth.

The researchers in Australia monitored over two hundred female patients who had tummy tuck procedures that included a rectus repair after giving birth.

Six weeks before and six months after surgery, the patients completed surveys regarding their urinary incontinence and back pain. Most women reported improvements in both urinary incontinence and back pain.

WHAT DID THE RESEARCHERS CONCLUDE?

The researchers concluded: “Abdominoplasty with rectus repair creates a significant improvement in the functional symptoms of low back pain and urinary incontinence.”

Some women may ignore back pain after a pregnancy because they think that it is a normal sign of aging, but that is not necessarily so.

Instead, in many cases, the back pain is, in fact, a direct consequence of diastasis recti. That’s because it weakens a woman’s abdominal wall, reducing support for the spine and leading to poor posture and lower back pain that incrementally increases over time.

HOW DOES A TUMMY TUCK HELP WITH BACK PAIN?

By tightening your abdominal muscles, a tummy tuck procedure provides necessary support to the spine. You will stand straighter, improve your posture, and suffer substantially less pain.

Improving your posture also provides these benefits:

1. It helps you keep your joints and bones properly aligned.
2. It reduces the stress on your ligaments.
3. It allows more efficient use of your muscles.
4. It gives you more confidence and improves your appearance.

HOW CAN A TUMMY TUCK HELP WITH URINARY INCONTINENCE?

During a pregnancy, muscles surrounding the bladder are stretched, and this may result in urinary leakage even after childbirth. A rectus repair as part of a tummy tuck procedure tightens muscles surrounding your pelvic wall and bladder, helping to prevent leakage.

About half of the patients in the research study reported incontinence after pregnancy and before tummy tuck surgery. Six months after the tummy tuck procedures, less than two percent of the patients were still reporting incontinence.

Don’t confuse a tummy tuck procedure with a liposuction procedure. Liposuction surgery removes fat deposits. If you choose – and if your surgeon agrees – both procedures can be done at the same time.

You should also consider a tummy tuck operation if you were obese in the past and you still have excessive fat or loose skin in your abdominal area.

WHAT ABOUT RECOVERY FROM A TUMMY TUCK PROCEDURE?

For some patients, a full recovery from a tummy tuck surgery takes five or six months, but most of the pain will subside after just a few days.

After the tummy tuck procedure, your surgeon will offer you some instructions and recovery advice, and you will need to adhere to those instructions.

Be sure that you completely understand your surgeon’s advice, and again, don’t hesitate to ask questions. You should recover from surgery with assurance and full peace of mind.

After tummy tuck surgery, your diet should emphasize fruits, lean protein, and vegetables. You will want to avoid anything with a high sodium, saturated fat, or sugar content.

You will also need to stay active, drink lots of water, and if you still smoke, quit.

HOW CAN YOU LEARN MORE?

Every cosmetic procedure starts when you schedule a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon. Ask about any of your concerns at that consultation – or about anything that is not clear to you.

Ensure that your surgeon is board-certified and substantially experienced doing tummy tuck procedures.

Obtain a comprehensive estimate in writing, and don’t work with any surgeon who is not immediately candid and forthright about the fees and any other costs that you will incur.

A tummy tuck procedure from a qualified surgeon can enhance your health and give you that flat abdomen you desire.

If your abdomen is “flabby,” or if you are dealing with loose abdominal skin or stretch marks, you can learn more – and there’s no reason to delay – by arranging promptly to discuss your options and wishes with a plastic surgeon.