Deep beneath the skin lies a layer of muscle that can become stretched out with age, pregnancy and weight fluctuation. “No matter how much exercise you do, if the underlying tissues are not in good standing, the stomach won’t appear to be thin, trim and contoured,” says Dallas, TX, plastic surgeon Jeffrey Kenkel, MD. Even if there is little fat on the stomach as a whole, if the muscles have become separated, the lower part of your tummy will most likely look bloated and barrel-shaped. “That’s because the muscles that give the stomach definition—the six-pack muscles—have separated internally. The main culprit is almost always pregnancy,” says Marlton, NJ, plastic surgeon Evan Sorokin, MD. “Once the muscles are disconnected, they create this little bulge. Post-pregnancy, your muscles can get stronger, but they can’t contract back to their original shape and position,” he says. The only way to fix the problem is with a tummy tuck, but this is one surgery that’s not considered a walk in the park.
1. Remove the pooch
The main goal of a tummy tuck is to refine and contour the stomach, fat bulges and loose skin, and Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel points out that this procedure is not aimed at losing weight. If you’re not at or close to your ideal weight, your plastic surgeon may suggest modifying your diet and incorporating regular exercise into your routine. “Although some people are genetically predisposed to extra fat on the stomach, this procedure is more for those that are frustrated with loose skin and the separation of the abdominal wall,” he says.
2. Get rid of fat and contour your body
Liposuction is usually performed in conjunction with a tummy tuck. It used to be that liposuction wasn’t routine during a tummy tuck since it was believed that it could injure the body’s blood supply. But Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel says there’s been a shift in thinking, thanks to techniques popularized by Brazilian plastic surgeons. “It’s actually safer in terms of healing and makes for an easier recovery because the blood supply is preserved and kept intact,” he adds. The hips, thighs and waist may also be addressed with liposuction.
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