TUMMY TUCK AFTER PREGNANCY – HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT?
Body after baby! Following pregnancy, abdominal skin commonly loses elasticity. Women often present with excess skin and fatty tissue of the lower abdomen. After being placed under significant stretch, the abdominal skin does not tighten to the same degree as before having a baby. The rectus (abdominal, “six-pack”) muscles commonly develop separation at the midline due to increased pressure inside the abdomen. Following delivery, these muscles unfortunately do not tighten back to their pre-baby condition.
Tummy tuck is a surgical procedure which may restore the abdomen closer to its pre-baby appearance and function. Women frequently ask how long should they wait before considering tummy tuck after pregnancy.
Waiting six months is generally a safe approach.
Answers may vary between plastic surgeons. I generally recommend for patients to wait approximately six months after delivery or longer before considering tummy tuck. Ideally I recommend for all patients to maintain stable body weight for at least three months before tummy tuck to lower risk of complications and to increase the likelihood of achieving a favorable aesthetic outcome. It is advised to achieve as close to your pre-baby body weight as possible before surgery and for your weight to remain stable for a few months pre-operatively.
What if I lose weight after tummy tuck?
If weight reduction occurs after tummy tuck, skin redundancy may recur of the lower abdomen since the skin is less elastic. This may compromise the aesthetic outcome. Patients may then need to consider revision surgery to address loose skin that could recur following weight loss after tummy tuck.
Should I wait for tummy tuck if considering future pregnancies?
Yes! I ask all patients whether they have plans for future pregnancies if considering tummy tuck. Although patients may successfully carry full-term pregnancies following tummy tuck surgery, the aesthetic outcome would likely be compromised. There is greater likelihood that these patients may consider revision surgery in the future.
During tummy tuck, repair of the rectus muscle separation is performed through what is called the “rectus plicaton”. The muscles are tightened and stitched for reinforcement in the midline. Pregnancy after muscle repair would place significant tension on this plication. This would lead to high risk of recurrent separation of the muscles (referred to as the rectus diastasis).
How will activity restrictions following tummy tuck impact my family and me?
It is also important for patients with young children to consider post-operative activity restrictions. This may also affect timing of tummy tuck after pregnancy. I advise patients to refrain from heavy lifting over 5 pounds or any exercise for 6 weeks following surgery. These restrictions are intended to lower risk of bleeding and wound healing complications, including potential disruption of the muscle repair. It is important to discuss this with family members before surgery to ensure you have help caring for your little ones during your recovery!
Please contact us if interested in discussing tummy tuck surgery in more detail.