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Pondering post-pregnancy tummy tuck options

After enduring the physical stresses of pregnancy and childbirth, it comes as no surprise to most mothers that they become less confident in the appearance of their stomach. The skin, along with underlying abdominal muscles, may have stretched significantly and the belly button can appear elongated and distorted. A tummy tuck is the most effective way for women to restore size, shape and firmness to their belly. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jules Walters in New Orleans, LA, explains how moms may benefit from this transformative procedure.

Tummy Tuck 101

Abdominoplasty, better known as a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure during which excess skin is removed from the stomach area. Abdominal muscles are tightened to create a flatter, slimmer, more-contoured profile. Liposuction, which manually breaks down and extracts fat cells, can also be performed. Finally, the belly button may be restored or repositioned for better appeal, and stretch marks may be diminished or made to disappear altogether.

Am I a candidate for a tummy tuck?

Women who are in good overall health but struggle with excess skin and fat on the abdomen may want to consider a tummy tuck. However, patients should wait three to six months until they have fully healed from pregnancy and delivery before undergoing any invasive cosmetic procedures. Also, breastfeeding moms may wish to hold off on having a tummy tuck until their child is weaned because the body continues to undergo changes while producing milk.

As part of the consultation, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jules Walters will perform an examination and suggest which style of tummy tuck may provide the best results. He also works with patients to establish realistic, attainable expectations and goals for the aesthetic outcome as well as the recovery process. Moms should be at or near their target weight, as it is not considered a weight-loss surgery. Although not required, it is highly recommended that women be done having children prior to undergoing a tummy tuck, since pregnancy can cause muscles and skin to stretch, which could necessitate revision surgery. During the recovery period, tummy tuck patients with young children likely will need assistance caring for them, especially during the first two weeks following surgery, since they should not lift any items including kids. While most women can resume normal activities at that point, strenuous tasks should be avoided for several more weeks.

Going the traditional route

Women looking to flatten the areas located directly below the belly button may opt for a traditional tummy tuck. Also called a standard or full tummy tuck, this surgery frequently is performed as part of a “Mommy Makeover,” a collection of popular plastic surgeries designed to restore and refine areas of the body that may have been impacted by pregnancy and childbirth. For this style of abdominoplasty, Dr. Jules Walters in New Orleans, LA, makes a horizontal incision low in the bikini line and removes excess fat via liposuction. Extra skin is removed and the abdominal muscles are tightened. The skin over the stomach is pulled taut, and the belly button is repositioned. Patients should expect to spend at least two weeks recovering from the procedure, at which time they may resume daily activities.

Go small and go home

If moms have successfully lost the bulk of their pregnancy pounds through diet and exercise, and mostly are concerned about a small amount of excess skin that remains on the belly, then a mini tummy tuck may be the best option for them. This procedure is less invasive than a traditional tummy tuck, as it addresses the region below the belly button to eliminate a belly “pooch” that may persist. A small incision is made so excess skin and slightly lax muscles can be tightened. Some stretch marks may also be removed, although the belly button usually does not require alteration. Patients of Dr. Jules Walters in New Orleans, LA, typically recover from a mini tummy tuck within a week.

All `fleur’ one

A fleur de lis tummy tuck is ideal for mothers in New Orleans, LA, who have shed a substantial pounds through diet and exercise or have undergone weight-loss surgery, both of which may have resulted in excessive amounts of sagging skin. The procedure derives its name from the distinctive shape of the incision that is made on the body as part of the surgery. Skin is removed vertically and horizontally. What remains is pulled downward and inward toward the center of the stomach. Although the residual upside-down, T-shaped scar can be prominent, the results of this tummy tuck often dramatically alter a patient’s appearance.

The extended version

An extended tummy tuck is considered more invasive than traditional abdominoplasty. Known as a circumferential lower body lift or a belt lipectomy, it involves the entire stomach along with the hips and back. Abdominal muscles are tightened and the belly button is repositioned. This procedure requires a month-long recovery period and the resulting scar typically wraps around the body like a belt.

Understanding which procedure is right for you

Pregnancy and childbirth can take a toll on a woman’s body. Diet and exercise alone usually are not enough to restore a pleasing shape and firmness to the belly. A tummy tuck is the best way for mothers to remove excess skin and fat from the region, as well as tighten abdominal muscles that may have been stretched. We invite you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jules Walters in New Orleans, LA, to begin the journey toward looking and feeling like yourself again.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.