You may think of a tummy tuck — also known as abdominoplasty — as a vanity procedure that women undergo to regain their figures after pregnancy, aging, or a major weight loss. While the aesthetic benefits of a tummy tuck are undeniable (who wouldn’t want a tighter, flatter, fitter abdominal area?), a tummy tuck does more than just tighten and trim abdominal skin and whisk away excess fat. During the tummy tuck procedure, your surgeon also repairs and tightens abdominal muscles that may have been ripped or stretched, or incised during a cesarean section.
Repairing and tightening loosened or damaged abdominal muscles certainly makes your tummy look younger and fitter again. But it also improves the function of your abdominal muscles, thereby strengthening all of the organs and structures that these muscles support.
Julio Garcia, MD — an expert in plastic surgery Las Vegas and tummy tucks — believes that women who have post-partum pain in the abdominal or pelvic areas could get relief through a tummy tuck. Here he outlines how abdominoplasty alleviates chronic postpartum pain and improves the overall function of your body.
Tummy Tuck Repairs Rectus Diastasis
When your developing baby needs more space, your abdominal muscles begin to separate straight down the middle, a condition known as rectus diastasis. Your expanding abdomen pushes your abdominal muscles to the side, leaving the center muscle-free.
Even after you deliver your baby, the muscles remain separated. That’s one reason you may have a “poochy” tummy even though you’re no longer pregnant. Your abdominal muscles no longer control the central part of your abdomen, so fat and skin collect there and droop, without support.
You may try to build up your abdominal muscles with crunches, sit-ups, and other strengthening exercises, but they won’t help. The main problem is that there no longer is any muscle tissue in the middle of your abdomen.
During your tummy tuck, Dr. Garcia vacuums away excess fat with liposuction. But he also re-positions the stretched and displaced abdominal muscles. He stitches them together so they once more cover the center of your abdomen. You’ll notice that your abdominal muscles are stronger, and your “pooch” is gone.
Tummy Tuck Corrects a Ventral Hernia
Because your abdominal muscles are stretched or cut during pregnancy, you may develop a painful condition called a ventral hernia. When your abdominal wall is weak, a portion of your intestines can push through it, forming a pouch. You may feel pain when you touch your abdomen, or when you cough, sneeze, or strain while having a bowel movement.
If you have a ventral hernia, Dr. Garcia repairs it as part of the tummy tuck procedure. Repairing a ventral hernia relieves pain and allows your weakened, repaired abdominal muscles to heal, too.
Tummy Tuck Alleviates Lower Back Pain
The reason why core exercises have gained in popularity in recent years is that strong abdominal muscles are essential to supporting your spine and lower back. Pregnancy and delivery stresses and weakens the abdominal muscles that attach to your spine.
During a tummy tuck, Dr. Garcia stitches your abdominals tightly together. When the muscles heal, they’re more compact, stronger, and better able to support your spine to keep it in more perfect alignment. When your spine is aligned, the vertebral discs rest on top of one another, minimizing the risk of a ruptured disc or pinched nerve.
A tummy tuck also corrects lordosis (aka sway back), which occurs when you have excessive fat on your abdomen. To compensate for the added weight on the front of your body, you tilt your pelvis backward. Over time, this unnatural position causes pain and discomfort.
By removing the excess fat from your abdomen during a tummy tuck, Dr. Garcia restores balance to the front and back portions of your body. Your pelvis straightens out once again, resolving the lordosis.
Tummy Tuck Improves Incontinence
In addition to repairing rectus diastasis, a tummy tuck repairs damage to the abdominal fascia, which is tissue that helps support your organs, including your bladder. During pregnancy, you may have had trouble with urine leakage due to the pressure of your growing uterus on your bladder. You may also have noticed that you needed to urinate more frequently.
Urge incontinence and leakage may continue after delivery if your abdominal fascia can no longer support your genitourinary organs and tissues. During your tummy tuck, Dr. Garcia stitches your abdominal fascia to tighten it, thereby ensuring that it can fully support your tissues again.
If your urethra or other genitourinary tissues have stretched out and can no longer function properly, Dr. Garcia can create a block with soft tissue to slow down the expulsion of urine. Studies have shown improvements in incontinence after tummy tuck surgery.
Tummy Tuck Straightens You Out
Weak abdominal muscles don’t just affect your lower spine. When you don’t have core support, you may slouch, throwing your upper back and cervical spine (i.e., your neck) out of alignment, too. Poor posture can be at the root of many pain and chronic conditions, including digestive issues. Slouching also puts you at risk for kyphosis — an osteoporotic condition also known as dowager’s hump.
Tummy Tucks Lets You Get Back in Shape
Once the excess fat and skin have been removed from your abdominal area, and your abdominal fascia and muscles have been repaired, you’ll notice a change in the way you feel. Not only are you stronger and lighter, you have more energy. Since your spine can now align properly, it’s easier to exercise and get the kinds of activities your body needs to stay healthy and strong.
While a tummy tuck is still considered a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure, it confers many medical benefits, too. During your tummy tuck consultation, be sure to tell Dr. Garcia about any functional or pain issues you may have experienced during or after your pregnancy. To set up a tummy tuck consultation, call us for plastic surgery in Las Vegas or use the online contact form.