3 Ways to Tighten and Tone Your Stomach

In order to get a flat, tight, toned stomach, you need to eat right, work out and, when necessary, spot-treat those problem areas. “So many women suffer from loose skin on the lower abdomen and excess weight after having kids,” says Concord, CA, plastic surgeon Eric Mariotti, MD. Whether post-pregnancy or from weight gain, here are the three biggest concerns people have about their midsections, plus the options to fix them.

Loose Skin

The cause: Pregnancy or drastic weight loss
Get rid of it with:
Skin tighteners or a tummy tuck
See results in: A few weeks to two months with skin tighteners (a series of treatments is needed); immediately with a tummy tuck (results improve in time)
Average cost: $1,700 for skin tighteners; $5,400 for a tummy tuck

“There are multiple options to tighten skin,” says The Villages, FL, plastic surgeon Fernando Serra, MD. In the case of minor laxity, skin tighteners can be used. “If a patient has excess abdominal fatty tissue, or loose or excess skin and a lax abdominal wall, a tummy tuck will provide the patient with the nicest appearing result. There are some small trade-offs, including a well-hidden scar in the bikini area,” says Newport Beach, CA, plastic surgeon Sanjay Grover, MD.

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Fat Bulges

The cause: Hormonal changes, lack of exercise, a fat-filled diet, genetics or a combination of extra skin, fat and stretched out muscles
Get rid of them with: CoolSculpting, Vanquish, liposuction or a tummy tuck
See results in: A few weeks to two months with something noninvasive; liposuction results are immediate and improve over the next three to six months; Immediate change with a tummy tuck that improves over time
Average cost: $1,275 for nonsurgical fat reduction; $2,800 for liposuction; $5,400 for a tummy tuck

“Stomach bulges are a concern for many women, especially after their childbearing years,” says Atlanta plastic surgeon Carmen M. Kavali, MD. “All the exercise in the world can’t get rid of extra skin or stretched muscles. A tummy tuck is the only procedure that addresses fat, skin and gaps between the abdominal muscles that contribute to bulging.” When just fat is a problem, liposuction is usually performed. “It’s great for getting rid of bulging caused by fat,” says Dr. Kavali. For something nonsurgical, CoolSculpting is an option. “It permanently freezes fat. It may take more than one treatment to get a full transformation, but there’s no downtime or scarring.”

Stretch Marks

The cause: Pregnancy, a growth spurt from your teenage years, or drastic weight fluctuations
Minimize them with: Fractional laser resurfacing or a tummy tuck
See results in: A few months with a laser; immediate results that improve over time with a tummy tuck
Average cost: $2,100 for fractional laser resurfacing; $5,400 for a tummy tuck

Stretch marks are fundamentally a scar in the skin, so there is only so much that can be done to correct them. Stretch marks are hard to treat but there are ways to minimize them. “When stretch marks are deep and sit below the belly button, a tummy tuck needs to be performed in order to remove them,” says Santa Monica, CA, plastic surgeon Steven Teitelbaum, MD. “When they are pink or purple in color a laser can diminish their color but the texture will still remain.” Some doctors prefer microneedling tools to help stimulate collagen to remodel stretch marks.

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1 Comment
  • Linda Swanson Linda Swanson
    Posted on

    After childbearing or massive weight loss resulting in loose skin, muscle separation and stretch marks, the only realistic solution is to have an abdominoplasty. This will allow maximal correct the skin laxity, the muscle separation and remove most stretch marks which lie below the belly button. This as a major surgery, but the results are well worth the effort. Liposuction of the flanks and thighs can give the final touches to recontouring the midtorso.

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