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Plastic surgery doctor draw lines with black marker on patient belly for tummy tuck

Tummy Tuck After C-Section: What You Need to Know

Moms who deliver via C-section may seek tummy tuck surgery. It helps to eliminate any excess abdominal skin following pregnancy and a small part of the stretch marks.

Before scheduling a tummy tuck, knowing when it’s safe, what’s involved, and the recovery after surgery is best. Credible research and experienced physicians offer helpful insight into tummy tucks after a C-section.  

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck is also known as an abdominoplasty. The surgery removes excess fat and skin. It also restores weakened muscles and creates a smoother belly profile.

Many people try to gain a firmer belly with diet and exercise. But even at a healthy weight, some still cannot achieve their goals. The causes of this are:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Prior surgery
  • Drastic fluctuations in weight

A downside is that the surgery can’t substitute diet and exercise. Your results may also change with fluctuations in weight or another pregnancy. 

What to Expect During a Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure. You may receive sedation or anesthesia, too. 

A surgeon makes an incision between your belly button and pubic hairline. How big of an incision depends on how much excess skin exists.

Next, they move to repair any weakened abdominal muscles and remove excess skin. Then, the doctor will pull down the upper area of your belly skin and suture it with the lower area. 

You will also need a new belly button created via a new opening. Finally, the surgeon closes all incisions with sutures or adhesives. 

Recovery From a Tummy Tuck

The recovery after a tummy tuck varies from person-to-person. Factors like state of health and any complications from the surgery affect your recovery.

Your doctor will send you home with post-op instructions. They may include:

  • Incision care. Bandages and a compression garment prevent swelling and promote healing. 
  • Medications. Medicine to help manage pain and prevent infection.
  • When to call your doctor. If the incision doesn’t heal as expected or you experience unexpected symptoms.

Any follow-up appointments will occur in the recovery period. But it would be best to wait until your office visit to express any questions or concerns. 

When is the Best Time for a Tummy Tuck after C-Section?

Tummy tuck surgery is either done during a C-section or after. 

Tummy Tuck and C-Section at the Same Time

Some women opt to have the tummy tuck while still in the C-section operating room. It stops the need for another surgery and saves money. But researchers aren’t sure if it’s best.

One study notes that infections and incision tears are more common with the two done simultaneously.

Some other complaints with the dual surgeries include:

  • Increased Bulging of the Abdomen
  • More Prominent Belly Button
  • Reoccuring Excess Skin
  • Higher Risk for Complications

Less than half the women from the study expressed satisfaction with the results. 

However, other research contradicts these findings. For example, one study showed satisfactory results in 80% of women who had both procedures simultaneously. It was also deemed just as safe, with no more side effects than expected. 

The arguments show we require more research to make any conclusions. 

Tummy Tuck After C-Section

Plastic surgeon Dr. Behzad Parva recommends moms wait at least six months after their C-section before a tummy tuck. But, of course, the wait is even longer if you’re breastfeeding. 

The waiting period allows your belly’s skin to snap back. You may also return to your pre-pregnancy weight in that time and it’s ideal. Having surgery too soon might not deliver the results you want. It may even lead to a desire to repeat the procedure later. 

You might also better manage your pain by waiting. An estimated 20-40% of those undergoing a tummy tuck experience severe pain. That pain may grow exponentially when you also heal from birthing your infant. 

Scheduling the dual surgery can also be challenging. Birth is unpredictable sometimes. You’ll need a plastic surgeon in the operating room with you during your c-section. An earlier-than-planned labor and delivery can throw a wrench in your plans.

Next Steps

If you’re serious about undergoing a tummy tuck, ensure you do it for yourself and not someone else. Also, diet and exercise may be all you need to get your desired body. You should only consider surgery when more conservative options fail. 

A good candidate for a tummy tuck is someone who is:

  • a Non-Smoker
  • Physically Healthy
  • At a Stable Weight
  • Very Bothered by their Belly’s Appearance

Some questions to ask at your plastic surgery consultation appointment include:

  • Am I a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
  • What are the risks and complications of the surgery?
  • Are you board certified?
  • How many years of experience do you have with tummy tucks?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect?

You should feel open to asking questions and expressing concerns to your doctor. The doctor should also explain all risks associated with the procedure. 

If you’re still not sure next steps, consider how it’s important to embrace your body after a C-section. You went through a lot during both the pregnancy and birth. So give yourself a break and instead focus on bonding with your new little one for now. 

Stephanie Wright

Stephanie Wright is a registered nurse and dedicated writer. She writes articles about various health and wellness topics, including mental health, women’s health, and parenting. As a nurse, Stephanie has seen firsthand how mental illness can affect a person’s health and well-being and is passionate about educating others. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Communication Studies from the University of Louisville. She keeps up with the latest health research as an active healthcare professional.

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