Does this sound like you? A while ago, you committed to a diet, exercise, or both. At first, you stuck to it and saw changes in your body. You lost pounds and inches. Recently, however, it’s been much more challenging to get results. Even as you eat less and work out more, the fat and skin around your midsection continue to hang around.
And you’re not alone. In a recent survey of 7000 moms with babies ranging from a few weeks to four years old, 87% indicated that their stomachs had not returned to normal. For some, this was even after getting back to their pre-pregnancy weight.
Often, we feel forced to accept this new version of ourselves. This new “normal” – one in which clothes fit differently to accommodate our new contours, can be quite frustrating after all the work we’ve put in and temptations we’ve resisted.
It’s no wonder many moms, and other patients who’ve experienced significant weight loss, consider the tummy tuck procedure. Face it, exercise is hard work, and following a strict diet is not any easier. And, no matter how hard you work or how severe your diet, sometimes fat pockets in the belly and excess skin can be impossible to address. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone fix the sagging skin around your belly?
Once we look seriously into tummy tuck, we may begin to have second thoughts. Who am I to spend this kind of money on myself? For cosmetic surgery? Fortunately, a tummy tuck is much more than a quick fix for your belly. Read on, and you’ll see that, in addition to aesthetic improvements, this procedure can have real and positive effects on your health.
Before you decide a tummy tuck is not worth it, or worse, YOU’RE not worth it, take a look at these four medical benefits that may surprise you:
Benefit One: Fix Urinary Issues
To pee or not to pee? After having a baby, we often don’t have a choice. Many people lose bladder control when least expected. A cough, a sneeze, even a laugh – they all can cause us to lose a few drops suddenly. For many patients, this leakage is due to the physical stress that pregnancy and vaginal childbirth puts on the pelvic region.
The scientific name for this condition is stress urinary incontinence (SUI), but most of us just call it annoying and embarrassing. It’s when our bladder muscles no longer have the strength to stay in place when our abdomen moves. Not to worry, there are surgical procedures, medical devices, and medications to fix it. Even though insurance will usually cover the costs associated with these options, there is usually still some expense and they may not provide permanent relief.
Believe it or not, a tummy tuck can fix this problem. If your doctor knows ahead of time that you have SUI, he or she can create a small obstruction in your urinary tract. Think of it as a roadblock to slow down the flow of your urine. As a result, your bladder muscles will get much-needed help to control when you need to go to the bathroom. Can you imagine not having to worry about a cough or laugh at the wrong time?
Otherwise, you’ll need to continue to make do with pads or undergarments, and embarrassment, like the rest of SUI sufferers. Unfortunately, for some patients, the condition never goes away and can even get worse if not addressed.
While you may manage to keep SUI a secret, your belly is a lot harder to conceal.
Benefit Two: Improved Tone of Your Belly and Posture
The best-known reason to seek a tummy tuck is a reduction in belly size. And while that’s a benefit for sure, you may not realize that the actual tone of your stomach muscles will change for the better with an abdominoplasty. You won’t merely end up with a smaller version of your current stomach; you’ll have additional core support, too.
Perhaps you’ve heard about the benefits of strong core muscles in one of your workout classes? When your stomach muscles provide better support, it’s easier to have good posture. Right now, the added pull of skin and excess tissue may have caused you to, without even knowing it, hunch forward. A tummy tuck repositions the muscle and takes away some of the fat that pulls you down.
And it’s no secret that poor posture can lead to back pain. Not everyone has back pain, but poor posture makes you more likely to develop it in the future. Life is too short to be in pain – not when you don’t have to.
And even if we escape back pain, we may have other sore spots. Many of us, after childbirth or substantial weight loss, may experience ventral hernias.
Benefit Three: Fix Your Ventral Hernia
Despite the established safety of C-sections, approximately 10% of patients will develop a ventral hernia. It’s a condition where part of your intestine bulges into your abdomen. They occur in weakened areas of the abdominal wall, usually at the point of incision.
If you know you have a ventral hernia, its no-doubt because you’ve felt discomfort and maybe even consulted a physician. You don’t, however, need to feel any symptoms immediately after pregnancy or weight loss to have this type of hernia, which can take months or even years to develop. Once you notice symptoms, you may not associate them with a hernia or your past pregnancy.
Ventral hernia sufferers feel abdominal pain when lifting heavy objects or doing other strenuous activities that use the stomach muscles, like playing sports, running, hiking, etc. For some, the pain can become bad enough to make them vomit. And to make matters worse, some ventral hernias grow large enough to create a visible bulge in your abdomen.
As if their symptoms weren’t bad enough, patients who have had ventral hernias are more likely to have them again.
Now the good news: with tummy tuck surgery, your doctor can not only fix an existing ventral hernia but prevent future hernia formation. The fix involves a repair to your abdominal wall, where your surgeon will pull and stitch the abdominal muscles back together. Prevention of future hernias comes from having stronger, repositioned stomach muscles. It’s like reinforcing your belly from within with a girdle of muscle.
Think of it this way. As long as your undertaking tummy tuck surgery, why not fix other problems at the same time? Later, additional operations only add cost and take away time for recovery. It’s like having your mechanic make multiple repairs while they’re under the hood of your car.
Benefit Four: Feeling Better About Your Body
Speaking of repairs, while we’ve discussed several significant benefits, they’ve all been physical. A 2014 study shows that the benefits of tummy tuck extend well beyond that – a tummy tuck can bring psychological benefits as well.
In the study, women took a variety of psychological tests before receiving surgery (from the same physician) and at their follow-up visit. The results were very encouraging. First, as you’d expect, the patient’s average body image scores improved significantly from before tummy tuck. This is not surprising – their bellies were gone, and they felt better about their bodies as a result.
But the study’s findings don’t stop there. Patients also completed a test before and after surgery to measure their tendencies toward bulimia. Although most of the patients did not have an eating disorder, their average score on the test improved. Therefore, after surgery, the participants thought and behaved less like patients with bulimia. Again, as we struggle against stubborn belly fat, our relationship with food can begin to suffer. An abdominoplasty can help patients restore a more healthy relationship with food.
As you can imagine, body image and eating disorder tendencies can add up to an overall poor self-image. So, it makes sense that self-esteem scores in the same group of participants also rose significantly. After a tummy tuck, the patients felt better about themselves as a whole – not just their bodies.
Finally, poor self-esteem, eating habits, and body image often contribute to a negative mood. Patients also made significant improvements in their level of depression before and after the procedure. Not only did they feel better about themselves, they felt better about life in general.
Does this mean that tummy tuck is a sure-fire way to turn someone’s life around? Certainly not. The procedure is not a substitute for therapy or any other mental health care if it’s needed. However, up to five months later, patients felt better about their bodies and themselves. How much would that cost in treatment or medications? It remains to be seen.
About Weight Loss
What’s lost during tummy tuck surgery is a combination of fat and skin. It’s the removal, at long last, of the fat and skin that’s clung to our bodies no matter what we’ve done.
By opting for a tummy tuck, you’re deciding enough’s enough, and you want the extra fat and skin gone. Fortunately, this can also mean you’ll lose weight. How much? It’s difficult to say how much because every patient loses a different amount. Abdominoplasty is not recommended for weight loss because there’s no telling how much you’ll lose. For some patients, it can be ten pounds. For others, it can be three.
Ask yourself, however, is weight your real enemy? Most patients agree their belly shape is the real issue. While not losing much in weight, patients after a tummy tuck are often able to fit into a much wider variety of clothes.
Your alternative? Continue to fight against your body. Sure, a tummy tuck is an elective surgery. You can still be healthy without one. But, you’ll need to remember that your body will only burn fat in certain areas, and excess or loose skin can best be addressed in most cases through surgery.
During your consultation, you and your doctor will go over the tummy tuck procedure, your specific needs, and the associated costs.
When thinking about tummy tuck surgery, consider each of the four benefits we’ve discussed and what’s required to treat them separately. What would it cost to treat SUI, a ventral hernia, back problems, or self-esteem issues separately?
If you do some calculations, you may find you have all the justification you need to go ahead and schedule your consultation.
The Decision is Yours
While healthy weight loss is an achievement to be proud of, we often don’t account for the after-effects it can have on our bodies. Hernias? Loose skin? Back pain? Frustration? After hours at the gym and the willpower to eat healthily, shouldn’t we feel much better?
As you can see, a tummy tuck can be much more than a fix for a sagging belly. It’s a crucial decision that can help you finish what you set out to do: weigh less, change your shape, AND feel better.
Despite having a recovery time longer than some other procedures, a tummy tuck is one of the most highly rated plastic surgeries you can choose. Overall, 97% of the 30,000 patients on RealSelf.com have rated it as “worth it.”
If you’d like to learn what a tummy tuck procedure can do for you, Contact Dr. Sajjadian’s office in Newport Beach today at (949) 515-0550 to schedule your consultation!