Fluctuating weight, stubborn fat, pregnancies and aging may have left you with a tummy pooch that will just not go away. For many women, deposits of belly fat or stretched, saggy abdominal skin are a frustrating part of daily life. Fortunately, if you’re ready to do something about it, there are three popular solutions to belly bulge.
A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure where the surgeon makes an incision at the lower abdomen to address problems such as excess abdominal fat, stretched skin, and separated abdominal muscles that often result from pregnancies. Though not a substitute for weight loss, a tummy tuck can flatten protruding abdominal skin and fat.
“During pregnancy, muscles can become separated and create a loss of contour to the abdomen and flanks,” said Kevin Day, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon with Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery. “No amount of diet or exercise can bring the separated abdominal muscles back together, but a tummy tuck can surgically repair those muscles to regain a smoother abdomen and return some of the pre-pregnancy hourglass shape.”
Excess fat in the abdomen and loose, stretched skin can also be removed during surgery. Richard Havard, MD, senior board-certified plastic surgeon with Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery, reports that although skin is elastic and can stretch and shrink a moderate amount, drastic changes of the body such as weight loss or pregnancy can leave skin that will not spring back. As an added benefit, the surgery can often improve the appearance of or completely remove a Cesarean section scar while tightening the abdominal skin.
“A tummy tuck gives us the opportunity to give the best possible results at the abdomen when there are multiple issues occurring at once,” Havard said. “This option has the most dramatic effect.”
A tummy tuck is a major surgery. It may require an overnight hospital stay or can be done as an outpatient procedure, meaning you would go home the same day, depending on the situation. You will need someone to stay with you for at least the first 24 hours afterwards. Activity will be limited for the first four to six weeks after surgery and you may need to take a full month off work depending on your job to achieve the best results with the fewest complications.
For women whose tummy pooch problems are not with excess skin or separated abdominal muscles but merely fatty deposits at the abdomen that will not resolve with diet and exercise, liposuction can reshape large areas of the body by physically removing persistent fatty tissue.
According to Havard, liposuction is a very popular procedure with a high success rate. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports it is the second most common plastic surgery procedure performed in the United States.
“Liposuction does a good job of removing stubborn belly fat that is a problem for many women,” said Havard. “As long as you maintain a stable weight, healthy diet, and consistent exercise, the results are very long-lasting.”
Liposuction is an outpatient procedure. Patients are able to go home the same day. You can usually return to work and normal activities within two weeks.
For women with just a small tummy pooch or stubborn fat on their hips and flanks, a non-invasive in-office procedure called SculpSure is often enough to eliminate the problem.
“SculpSure is a fat-burning laser that permanently removes up to 25 percent of fat cells in the area treated,” said Day. “The difference will be slightly more subtle than liposuction, but if you have a little excess fat that you find bothersome, this can give really great results.”
A SculpSure treatment takes about 25 minutes in the office. The procedure is non-invasive with no downtime, so you can go back to work immediately after your appointment. Day reports that women often need two or three treatments to achieve the optimal fat reduction.
Plastic surgery procedures and treatments cannot replace a healthy diet and exercise. Havard and Day both encourage women to be at a stable weight and have finished bearing children before considering a procedure. Being a non-smoker and having realistic expectations and a positive outlook can also increase your chances of a successful outcome.
“Look at before and after photos and know what is possible first,” said Day. “Get a consultation to find out what fits your lifestyle and your needs.”
Consultations at our clinic are always complimentary. If you’re ready to discuss your unique needs with one of our providers, please call us at 541-768-4370 or connect with us online to arrange your free consultation.