The truth about tummy tucks

Plastic surgeon and Chatelaine expert Dr. Julie Khanna discusses abs, workouts and that pesky post-baby flab

I am the proud mother of two little boys. It seems no matter how many sit-ups I do, I just can’t get rid of the flab around my stomach. What do I need to know about tummy tucks?

As the mother of two beautiful children, I can relate. Nothing brings us more joy than our children. But wouldn’t it be nice if our bodies miraculously bounced back to where they started? When we look at the stomach area post-birth, the muscle and skin layers on top are often noticeably stretched. I’m glad to hear you are working out because plastic surgery is not a replacement for good health and exercise – merely an addition to it.

When it comes to the “loose tummy,” you have a couple of options. If there’s only a thickness of the tissues (that is, the fatty layer without extra skin), then liposuction alone could probably do the job. Most often, however, women have some loose-skin components after giving birth, which would entail either a mini tummy tuck or a full tummy tuck (we charge $4,800 for a mini and $5,000 to $8,500 for a full, but prices vary across the country). If you have a little bit of loose skin below the belly button, a mini tummy tuck might work. A full tummy tuck, on the other hand, deals with loose skin both above and below the belly button. As we remove the excess skin, we also tighten the muscles (think of it as an internal girdle).

What to expect

When a patient comes to talk to me about her abdomen, I’ll first look at her standing, which tells me a little bit about muscle tone and shows me how much loose skin there is. Then I do the much-dreaded “sit-down test,” which shows me how far the loose skin goes from side to side and whether it is in the upper or lower abdomen (or both). Lastly, I have the patient lie down flat, as this provides a preview of what’s to come post-surgery.

So what do I recommend? Keep doing what you are doing. You’ll want to be in the best shape before surgery, as this will allow you to have a better-tailored operation and an easier recovery. A tummy tuck does leave scars, but it can give an incredibly satisfying result not only by removing the loose skin and the majority of stretch marks, but also by tightening abdominal muscles and providing a more cinched-in waist.

Recovery time

Surgery is usually done under a general anesthetic. It takes about one to two weeks before you can resume day-to-day activities and approximately four to six weeks to return to heavy lifting and aggressive exercise. To learn more about tummy tucks, book a consultation with a Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or American Board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in cosmetic work.

Dr. Julie Khanna is a plastic surgeon at the Institute of Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Oakville, Ont.

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