The Tummy Tuck, also known as Abdominoplasty, is a great procedure for firming up a loose belly. The procedure tightens loose skin and muscle and removes disproportionate fat from the lower abdomen, which results in a belly with more tone and less laxity. The cosmetic results are obvious for my patients and can be seen in the many Tummy Tuck Before and After Pictures available on the web.
Tummy Tuck Medical Benefits
First, the disclaimer: Abdominoplasty is a Cosmetic Plastic Surgery procedure designed to improve body contour. So it is not the primary treatment for the issues discussed below. On the other hand, researchers have shown that there is more to a Tummy Tuck than good looks. There are proven medical benefits to Abdominoplasty, too. Here are a few:
Improvement in Stress Urinary Incontinence after Abdominoplasty
A recent article in the Journal of Aesthetic Surgery caught my attention. Entitled, “Improvement in Stress Urinary Incontinence after Abdominoplasty,” the authors studied 250 women having Abdominoplasty. Of the 100 women completing their pre and post operative surveys, half had stress urinary incontinence preoperatively. Sixty percent of the fifty women with preoperative stress urinary incontinence reported improvement after their Tummy Tucks. Not having had a C-section before the Abdominoplasty was a predictor of improvement.
Improved Abdominal Tone = Better Posture and Reduced Low Back Pain
After weight loss or pregnancy, the abdominal muscles are over distended and often cannot recover with diet and exercise alone. With extreme weight loss, and multiple pregnancies, the stretching is more extreme and less likely to respond to non-surgical intervention.
Not only do the overstretched muscles lead to less support in front and a bigger belly, but they also lead to an increase in the curvature of the lower back, lordosis. Also known as sway back, this puts additional strain on the lower back and can aggravate lower back pain.
After Abdominoplasty, the abdominal muscles are tightened and realigned resulting in improved support for the abdomen and the spine. Which can result in decreased lower back pain.
An article appearing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery entitled, “Wide abdominal rectus plication abdominoplasty for the treatment of chronic intractable low back pain,” provides evidence of this benefit. While the sample size was small, only eleven patients, the results were that all patients had “prompt and prolonged alleviation of their back pain,” with follow-up of two to eleven years.
Improved Ventral Hernia Correction
A ventral hernia is a hernia located in the midline of the belly. They can be caused by a weak muscular abdominal wall (primarily the muscle’s tough covering or fascia), injury (heavy lifting or previous surgery), massive weight and pregnancy. Many of these are the same indications for a Tummy Tuck.
Current methods of repairing a ventral hernia include primary closure (sewing it up), staged repair (more than one operation) or the use of a patch (bio derived or artificial). According to this article from the Annals of Surgery, “Abdominoplasty Repair for Abdominal Wall Hernias,” by combining these traditional methods with an abdominoplasty, the procedures are made safer and the results are improved. The authors conclude: “The abdominoplasty approach isolates the incision from the hernial defect and repair. This technique is safe with a low risk of complications and a low rate of recurrence. It is particularly helpful in obese patients, in patients with multiple hernias, and in those patients with recurrent hernias.”
Will My Insurance Company Cover My Tummy Tuck?
If you have urinary incontinence, chronic low back pain or a ventral hernia, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon should not be your first consultation. Even though the Abdominoplasty has proven medical benefits, your insurance company is unlikely to provide a Tummy Tuck as a covered benefit anytime soon.
If you read my last post, Reconstructive Vs. Cosmetic Surgery, you know insurance companies put not spending money on you high on their list of things to do. They will sometimes cover a panniculectomy, but only if you provide evidence or repeated infections in the skin folds. A panniculectomy is not a tummy tuck. It is the removal of the panniculus, the skin and fat that overhangs the groin, and does not include tightening the abdominal muscles or upper belly skin.
If you have a stretched out belly that is not responding to diet and exercise, and are otherwise healthy, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon should be your first consultation. By tightening the abdominal wall and removing excess fat from the lower abdomen, your belly will look better. And when we look better, we feel better.
Call my San Francisco Bay Area Plastic Surgery Office at (925) 943-6353 today, and schedule a convenient, completely confidential consultation appointment, or use the contact form in the margin to drop us a note. Videos are also available here: Tummy Tuck Videos. If you have lost the weight, why not loose the belly, too? Abdominoplasty could be the answer for you.