American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

How to eliminate your post-pregnancy paunch

As rewarding as motherhood is, there's no denying that pregnancy and childbirth can take a toll on your body. While many of the most obvious changes, such as extra weight gain, will resolve after your pregnancy, some may be here to stay. One example of this is the appearance of the post-pregnancy paunch; no matter how many targeted exercises you try or weight you lose, a stubborn potbelly often remains. For many women, a tummy tuck combined with liposuction can finally offer a solution.

Understanding Pregnancy Changes

Your body undergoes a variety of changes very quickly during pregnancy. Extra weight is stored throughout the body to make sure you have enough energy stockpiled to see you through your pregnancy. Breasts often change shape and size, both in response to weight gain and because of hormonal changes. Some women even find that their feet change size after pregnancy, their hair becomes straighter or curlier or notice other unpredictable physical shifts.

One of the primary changes during pregnancy, of course, is the swelling of the uterus to accommodate the growing baby within. The abdominal muscles also stretch to allow the expansion of the uterus. This can cause the abdominal muscles to separate completely in a condition called diastasis recti, which can be permanent.

Many of the changes seen in the body during pregnancy are purely cosmetic, and will gradually return to normal as time passes; making an extra effort to eat right and exercise after your baby is born can help shed any remaining excess pregnancy pounds. Yet for some women, plastic surgery may be needed to repair permanent muscle separation and laxity.

A Combination Approach

There are two approaches to toning and sculpting the abdominal area: liposuction and abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). Although both can improve the lines of your abdomen, they work in very different ways.

Liposuction involves making a few tiny incisions near the belly, through which a cannula (hollow surgical tube) is inserted. The fat cells are broken apart through one of a variety of methods, and then the cannula can be used to physically remove the excess fat cells. Lipo can't tighten muscles that have been too stretched out.

A tummy tuck surgically repairs separated muscles by stitching them back in place, while removing excess skin and tissue for a smoother, firmer look. Although a tummy tuck is ideal for major structural and muscular repair, it may not offer the same level of fine-tuning and finesse that's possible with liposuction.

More and more plastic surgeons are combining liposuction and a tummy tuck for improved patient outcomes. This modern approach to abdominal sculpting can offer a winning solution for finally eliminating post-pregnancy paunch without needing separate procedures.

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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