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Our plastic surgeons get lots of requests about how to improve the “mummy tummy” (or “mommy tummy” if in the US!) so we thought we’d share some of their insights in this blog.
Fundamentally, there are several things that can happen as a result of pregnancy (especially multiple pregnancies). The first is that the skin stretches. This will be different in different people, so some will develop stretch marks (which is actually more likely if you are younger) and some will have residual loose skin afterwards, or a combination of the two. Loose skin can often hang over a caesarean scar and can cause people significant concern.
The second thing that can occur is that you can start to lay down fatty deposits which can be very difficult to shift. Particularly at the flanks or hips, as well as the front of the tummy.
Finally, the muscles of the tummy wall (the rectus, or six pack muscles) can separate and stretch apart.
So the first thing our plastic surgeons will need to do is to assess your abdomen to work out what the underlying issues are, before then considering what the best treatment options are.
For excess and lax skin, the skin will need to be removed. This would normally be in the form of a tummy tuck, but for some people, variations of this are possible, such as a mini-tummy tuck (that can sometimes be performed under local anaesthetic at Purity Bridge) or conversely a more involved tummy tuck for those with a significant amount of skin excess.
For the fat excess, liposuction is the core treatment here. In some cases this is combined with a tummy tuck to try to improve the contour as much as possible, particularly to sculpt the waist and address fat excess in the flanks. If liposuction is performed alone, it works best with good quality skin, as the skin needs to contract or shrink-wrap around the emptied area of fat. Therefore, our plastic surgeons will decide with you about the benefits of liposuction as a stand alone procedure with you, depending on your skin quality.
If your tummy muscles have a degree of separation, and you find yourself getting bloated easily then trying to get the muscles back to the midline is required. Sometimes Pilates can help with this, by focussing on the core muscles. However, in many cases, in order to restore their position, repair of the muscle “divarication” is needed. This is done as part of a tummy tuck procedure.
Finally, it is important to bear in mind that with the stretch of a pregnant tummy, the tissues will thin, lose elasticity and support, so even if all is re-shaped and re-contoured, good maintenance with diet, exercise and Pilates is essential!