As promised, today I am going to review the process of restoring a woman’s body after childbirth. If you did not read my article on stretch marks last month, I recommend checking it out. No part of a woman’s anatomy changes nearly as much as her abdomen during childbirth. The rapid increase in size over a nine-month period often stretches the abdominal skin past its elastic ability to return to the original shape. This fact becomes obvious to most women a month or two after giving birth. However, what may be a little less obvious is the fact that the muscles and fascia (thick sheet of connective tissue) under your skin gets stretched the same way, likely the destroying the six-pack you may have proudly displayed at the beach in your youth. With the weakened abdominal muscles, the distance from your belly button to your spine becomes longer. There are certainly differences in the way each person’s abdomen appears after pregnancy, but some “snap back” more than others.
Should you have excess skin, stretch marks, or a weakened abdomen after pregnancy, there are some great options that can fix this; such as an abdominoplasty (or tummy tuck). During an abdominoplasty surgery, your surgeon will remove all of the excess skin on your lower abdomen and re-tighten your abdominal muscles which can dramatically change the appearance of your lower abdomen. You will have a scar that easily hides below your bikini line following the skin removal.
When discussing recovery, I tell patients that it is a rough first week and then every day in your second week you will begin to feel increasingly better. Most patients are back driving and running short errands in their second week after surgery. I try to get patients to take two weeks off of work simply because most people do not feel like getting back into the daily grind after only a week. A gradual return to exercise begins at three weeks with walking. Many of my patients will begin walking up to five mile distances in the third week following the procedure. At postoperative week six, you may resume all typical workouts. The best long-lasting results occur when people get motivated at week six and hit the gym.
I am frequently asked, “How long do I have to wait after giving birth to have a tummy-tuck?” First, you want to make sure you are done having children. While getting pregnant after having a tummy tuck is not unsafe, it will ruin your beautiful results. The minimum one must wait after birth is six months to have a tummy tuck. Other factors come into play based on each individual’s circumstances, but six months is the minimum.
Finally, I occasionally get asked, “Do I need this?” My answer is always that nobody “needs” what I do, but if your abdomen bothers you, we can make safely make it better. Many of my patients have said that when they look their best, they feel their best! Please understand, childbirth is a miracle and a beautiful thing; I am humbled by the women I am fortunate enough to work with daily in restoring their bodies.