American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Four medical benefits of a tummy tuck

tummy tuck medical benefits

Many of us are familiar with the cosmetic benefits of tummy tuck surgery. Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that tightens stomach muscles and helps eliminate excess skin (or belly overhang) and abdominal creases.

Because the surgery is designed to result in a flatter and more toned stomach, patients typically opt for this procedure after pregnancy or after they've lost a significant amount of weight in a short time period. It's an immensely popular surgery with numbers to back it up. Based on data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of tummy tuck procedures increased by 107 percent between 2000 and 2017.

When is a tummy tuck medically beneficial?

Without a doubt, abdominoplasty offers plenty of cosmetic rewards. In actuality, a tummy tuck can also deliver medical benefits, especially when it becomes the required corrective surgical procedure for patients with certain conditions:

  1. To correct a ventral hernia: A ventral hernia forms when your intestine or abdominal tissue breaks through your abdominal wall to create a type of pouch or sack. This hernia may develop for any number of reasons, such as abdominal weakness resulting from massive weight loss, an appendectomy or a cesarean section. Much like flattening your stomach, a tummy tuck can similarly correct a ventral hernia by addressing weakened abdominal muscles, thereby reducing pressure on your skin.
  2. To reduce stress urinary incontinence: Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a bladder control condition that happens when there is too much pressure on your bladder and urethra. SUI is characterized by uncontrollable leakage induced by sudden and forceful actions such as sneezing, coughing, laughing and exercising. The condition is ordinarily treated without the need for surgery, but studies have shown that a tummy tuck may help patients with SUI. The problem is mostly common for women, especially after giving a normal delivery, but can also affect men.
  3. To decrease back pain: Back pain is another common problem that can be treated by abdominoplasty. After giving birth or a significant weight loss, women may complain of back pain resulting from weakened stomach muscles. In flattening the abdomen and removing excess stomach fat, a tummy tuck surgically tightens the weakened muscles, resulting in much-needed abdominal support that can alleviate your back pain.
  4. To improve posture: A byproduct of stronger abdominal muscles and decreased back pain is improved posture. After a tummy tuck procedure, you may enjoy an improved posture due to the tightened muscles, giving more support to your spine.

Can a tummy tuck be used for weight loss?

Because only a certain amount of body fat is safe to remove, abdominoplasty should not be viewed as a method for weight loss. Furthermore, a tummy tuck does not necessarily improve your blood pressure, cholesterol level or other effects stemming from obesity. For these very reasons, we don't recommend abdominoplasty as a way for you to treat obesity or diabetes.

On the other hand, we can recommend abdominoplasty for diabetic patients, as long as you meet certain conditions:

  • The diabetic condition is under control and not causing any complications
  • There is no history of kidney ailments
  • You agree to additional blood tests to ensure your diabetes is under control and it is safe to proceed with the operation

What are the risks and rewards?

A tummy tuck may be a very popular surgery, but it is far from simple or easy. It's a major procedure that requires you to go under general anesthesia, spend upwards of five hours in the operating room and spend several weeks in recovery.

Diabetic patients are especially more susceptible to complications if they decided to undergo cosmetic surgery. For example, their chances of developing an infection are higher. Furthermore, their condition can significantly slow down recovery time. Plus, it's more challenging for surgeons to manage a diabetic patient's glucose level after a procedure. Due to these risks, we urge patients to make changes to their diet and lifestyle as a safer, more practical way to lose weight, before deciding on surgery.

Is a tummy tuck right for you?

Before undergoing any type of procedure, be sure to consult with your doctor to discuss what's involved with the operation, how you should prepare for it, the risks involved and what you can expect during recovery. In addition, even if the reasons provided above are medical in nature, it does not necessarily mean that your insurance company will cover the costs.

After undergoing a tummy tuck, you can expect both physical and psychological dividends. You'll have the tighter, more toned stomach you always wanted, your clothes will fit you better, your workouts may be more satisfying and you should have a better quality of life.

If you are ready to take the next step on your tummy tuck journey, check out the Find a Plastic Surgeon tool to connect with an ASPS member surgeon in your area.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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