A tummy tuck is not the exclusive domain of women. It is an excellent cosmetic procedure for both women and men to achieve a flat stomach. However, for women considering a tummy tuck, there is the additional dilemma of when to have one. Should women wait until they are done having children, or can they have a tummy tuck at any time?
Who Can Benefit From a Tummy Tuck
Tummy tuck surgery yields without a doubt the best results for patients who have excess fat and skin that gives their stomach a bulging or sagging appearance. On the other hand, it is also the most invasive approach to tighten abdominal skin. It results in a scar – albeit one that a good plastic surgeon conceals below the bikini line – and it requires 1-2 weeks of recovery time before a patient can return to regular activities.
There are other, less-invasive options to tighten abdominal skin. Traditional or radio frequency assisted liposuction can go a long way towards restoring the tummy to a more youthful shape.
But for some patients, such measures aren’t enough. If you’ve undergone extreme weight loss that leaves you with a lot of excess skin, if your skin has been stretched beyond the point where it can be tightened non-surgically, or if your abdominal muscles were stretched too far apart during pregnancy, you stand to gain the most from tummy tuck surgery.
What Tummy Tuck Surgery Does
A tummy tuck serves two main purposes. It removes excess abdominal fat and skin so that the remaining skin stretches tight over a flat tummy, and it repairs the underlying abdominal muscle if needed.
The reason the muscle might be damaged is typically a previous pregnancy. As a baby grows inside the uterus, the skin of a woman’s abdomen is stretched to accommodate the growing belly. For some women, this can spread the abdominal muscles so far apart that they stay apart post-partum and create a paunch. In fact, this happens quite often – for about one third of pregnant women.
Whether you will be affected by this condition called diastasic recti is hard to predict. You may or may not be genetically predisposed, or you might have weaker or stronger abdominal muscles.
Is a Tummy Tuck Baby-Proof?
This gets us back to the original question: Should you wait with your tummy tuck until after you’re done having children? Or can you somehow have a “baby-proof” tummy tuck that lasts throughout multiple pregnancies?
First off, we’d like to make clear that there is no medical reason for avoiding pregnancy after a tummy tuck. Having a tummy tuck does not prohibit a future pregnancy or pregnancies in any way, shape, or form. The growth and well-being of your baby will not be affected by a previous tummy tuck.
But on the flip-side, no plastic surgeon can guarantee that a tummy tuck will “survive” a pregnancy unblemished. Your skin might stretch beyond the point of no return, or your abdominal muscle might split. If you’ve already had this happen during a previous pregnancy, there is a good chance it will happen again. But just because it has not happened before doesn’t mean it won’t the next time.
How to Decide When it’s Time for a Tummy Tuck
The only person who can decide whether or when to have a tummy tuck is you. But a plastic surgeon can help you assess the situation and offer advice. If you were our patient and told us you’re pretty confident that you’ll have more children in the next few years, we’d advise you to wait with a tummy tuck. We would want you to be happy with the outcome for years to come. There is no telling how your next pregnancy might affect the results, and we would want to protect you from disappointment and financial loss.
On the other hand, you may not know for sure whether you’ll become pregnant again, and you really want to have that gorgeous flat tummy now. In that case, it should be a comfort to know that you are not limiting your options for future children in any way.
If you’d like to speak to a board-certified plastic surgeon in Nashville or Memphis about tummy tuck options, please contact us to schedule a personal consultation.