Many Australian women opt to undergo a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, after pregnancy due to the aesthetic results of the procedure. But did you know that a post-pregnancy tummy tuck can also have important health benefits?
A study of 214 women, the results of which was released earlier this year, found that the procedure can actually help ease common post-pregnancy conditions such as back pain and urinary incontinence. The findings have led to the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons calling for abdominoplasties to be reinstated as a procedure subsidised by Medicare, after it was removed from the schedule in 2016.
The study included women undergoing tummy tucks at nine different locations, of whom 51 percent suffered moderate to severe back pain and 42 percent experienced urinary incontinence, prior to surgery.
Six months on from the procedure, only nine percent of the women still experienced back pain and only two percent reported urinary incontinence.
Dr Yunaev, a Specialist OncoPlastic Surgeon at Breast and Body Clinic commented on these outcomes, “Most people focus on the aesthetic benefits of removing the excess skin and lower abdominal fat pad and creation of the flat tummy as a result, which is aesthetically pleasing. They forget that a lot of surgery is done to actually correct the functional disturbances that occur with natural pregnancy and birthing process, which disrupts the ring of muscles around the abdomen. These muscles are responsible for maintaining good posture and supporting the abdominal contents, and therefore when this ring of muscles is disturbed it can lead to poor posture, back pain, unsightly abdominal protrusions, bloated appearance, urinary incontinence and so on. Correction of these problems is one of the paramount indicators for abdominoplasty. It is reassuring to see with this study that it indeed does achieve the desired result, what we know for a long time anecdotally.”
So what does a tummy tuck involve? A surgeon makes an incision across the lower abdomen, removes excess skin and repairs/tightens the muscles underneath, before stretching the remaining skin back over the abdomen and reattaching it, resulting in a flat tummy.
It is major surgery conducted under general anaesthetic and as such, patients need to carefully consider the risks, plan to have enough recovery time (up to six weeks) and follow any pre and post-operative instructions very carefully. Women should also plan to have the surgery at a quiet time when there are no other stresses or distractions, so that they can concentrate fully on recovery.
Mothers considering the procedure should be aware that it is not recommended if you are planning to have more children. It should also be said that if a patient merely wishes to lose weight the only way to do so is with a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. It is only once the weight has been lost that the procedure should be considered.
It is also important that patients maintain a healthy weight after the procedure in order to preserve the result. Patients should be also prepared to wait a period of time while the surgery heals to see the final result.
About Dr Michael Yunaev
Dr Michael Yunaev is an Oncoplastic Breast, General and Cosmetic Surgeon and is the Principal Doctor at Breast & Body Clinic. Dr Yunaev is a highly trained Surgeon with extensive experience and passion for the treatment of all aspects of Breast Cancer Surgery, Benign and Congenital Breast Disease and Aesthetic Breast Surgery, as well as General Surgery.