Think about the changes a woman’s body experiences during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. It’s remarkable and something that women who have children endure with a mixture of joy and exhaustion. For many women, though, the excess abdominal skin that remains is a nuisance that undermines their confidence. Post-pregnancy tummy tuck surgery offers a solution.
Exercising and eating a healthy diet are great habits to follow, but they can’t tighten skin stretched during pregnancy or minimize stretch marks. That’s only possible through tummy tuck surgery. In this blog post, I’ll briefly describe tummy tuck options and offer additional tips for women after pregnancy who are asking themselves, “Do I need a tummy tuck? And if so, when should I get a tummy tuck?”
Tummy Tucks: Full vs. Mini
The tummy tuck technique I use depends on the extent of excess skin and whether abdominal muscles need to be repaired. I discuss the options with patients during their consultations and explain the reasons for choosing one or the other.
A full tummy tuck is more common because a mini tummy tuck only addresses excess skin below the bellybutton. It’s an attractive option because the incision is shorter, but typically a mini tummy tuck isn’t enough for most post-pregnancy patients.
A full tummy tuck involves removing excess skin and re-positioning the bellybutton so it looks natural. In some cases, it also involves treating a condition called diastasis recti that causes the belly to pooch out.
The longer incision of a full tummy tuck is worth it to many patients because the changes are so dramatic. During the consultation, your surgeon will discuss which option is more appropriate for you. You can learn more about tummy tuck surgery from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
You can see some of my tummy tuck patients’ results in the photos below:
How To Know It’s Time for a Tummy Tuck Post Pregnancy
Women considering a tummy tuck after having children should consider several issues.
1. Consider how long it has been since you were pregnant and stopped breastfeeding.
The first factor involves hormone levels that remain elevated while you’re breastfeeding. Those hormones can cause significant weight fluctuations. I generally recommend waiting at least 3 months after you stop breastfeeding to schedule a tummy tuck. Hormone levels typically stabilize by then.
If you’re not breastfeeding, it’s best to wait at least 6 months to a year after childbirth before getting a tummy tuck. That allows your body to fully heal before undergoing major cosmetic surgery.
2. Think about whether you have the physical and emotional bandwidth for a tummy tuck.
Recovery from tummy tuck surgery takes time and presents some physical limitations that may be challenging to incorporate into motherhood’s duties. You’ll need help at home and kids who will understand that you won’t be able to lift them for a few weeks. You may have drains in place that you need to take care of and a variety of other post-op instructions to follow. Waiting until you have time for a proper recovery is often a good choice.
3. Assess whether you are at a stable weight.
It can be difficult to reach and maintain your ideal body weight after pregnancy. A tummy tuck is a body contouring surgery and isn’t designed to greatly reduce your weight. It’s typically best to reach a comfortable weight before getting a tummy tuck. I combine liposuction with most tummy tuck surgeries to sculpt smooth, contoured results and reduce fat in certain areas.
4. Ask yourself whether you are finished having babies.
A tummy tuck produces pretty amazing results, but the outcome can be compromised by a future pregnancy. If you’re planning to have another child within a couple of years, it’s best to hold off on getting a tummy tuck. Otherwise, you may need to undergo another surgery to regain your results if you become pregnant again.
5. Think about whether a tummy tuck will give you the results you want.
Often, women who have been pregnant have concerns that extend beyond just the abdomen. You may feel like your breasts look deflated or saggy after breastfeeding, or you just can’t get rid of a little excess fat on your flanks, hips, or back. If you want to contour more than just your tummy, you can combine your tummy tuck with liposuction, breast augmentation, breast lift, or other procedures in a surgery called a mommy makeover.
If you’re considering a tummy tuck, I encourage you to view before-and-after pictures of our actual patients to see the kinds of results you can expect. You can use our online form to request a consultation or call us at (717) 728-1700 to schedule an appointment.