A common aesthetic concern many women have following pregnancy is the prominent bulge or “pooch” of the mid and lower abdomen that usually proves resistant to a healthy diet and exercise. In severe cases, this bulge can be so substantial that it can often cause one to still look pregnant.
This condition is caused by a combination of stretching of the muscles of the abdominal wall, the widening of the space between the left and right rectus muscles along the midline of the abdomen (medically known as diastasis recti), and the loss of elasticity and stretching of the skin of the mid and lower abdomen. These usually are the permanent consequences of the outward expanding forces occurring during pregnancy though there is some natural but limited tightening of the tissues in the postpartum period. This same condition can also occur as a consequence of a major weight gain followed by a substantial loss.
Diet and exercise can help shed weight, reduce fat and tone the muscles but they won’t tighten irreversibly stretched skin and muscle. The only effective approach is surgical intervention, as in a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). During this popular cosmetic procedure, stretched muscles of the abdominal wall are tightened and repaired, and any excess skin present in the stomach region is removed resulting in a tighter and more sculpted contour.
In addition, such issues as ventral or umbilical hernias can also be corrected during an abdominoplasty. Liposuction can be employed elsewhere to remove persistent fat deposits in areas such as the hips, thighs and back.
If you are concerned about the excess skin and bulging of your abdomen following one or multiple pregnancies, or massive weight loss, I encourage you to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon to find out if tummy tuck surgery would be beneficial for your unique needs and aesthetic desires.
– Steven H. Turkeltaub, MD, PC