Both skin and muscle stretch during pregnancy, and oftentimes they don’t return to their pre-baby shape. “Most women come into my office complaining that they’ve done sit-ups for months but they can’t get rid of their tummy,” says Carmichael, California plastic surgeon Roy Semlacher, MD. This is most commonly caused by diastasis, when the vertical abdominal muscles stretch to the sides and don’t return to their pre-pregnancy position. “After the first birth, they may tighten back up, but diastasis is more common after the Second or third pregnancy,” according to Dr. Roy Semlacher.
For postpartum paunch due to lax muscle and skin, a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is the surgical solu- tion of choice. According to Dr. Roy Semlacher, “The ideal candidate for a tummy tuck is at her goal weight and has finished having children.” The abdominal muscles are tightened and excess skin and fat may be removed through an incision that stretches from hip to hip. “The tummy tuck can also smooth the posterior area between the butt and lower back and the love handles,” according to Charlotte, North Carolina plastic surgeon Felmont Eaves, MD. “There are different techniques for different body conditions. A person may be trim, but the skin could be loose. These people may only need a limited procedure called a mini-tummy tuck,” he adds. “Tummy tuck scars are a big issue for women,” says Dr. Roy Semlacher, “but the incision can be designed so it is covered by underwear or a bathing suit.” And for women who delivered via Cesarean section, that scar is essentially removed during the tummy tuck, and a new, often less noticeable scar will result. Dr. Felmont Eaves says, “A tummy tuck operation gives dramatic results, but there is a significant recovery period. For the first couple of weeks you’ll need help around the house; after two to three weeks you can drive. But it could take at least six weeks for total recovery.” Results are permanent, however weight gain or loss and pregnancy can affect outcomes.
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