Q&A with Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Simon Mackey
Q. I had a baby three years ago and assumed that with diet and exercise I’d get my pre-baby body back in no time. However, the reality is quite different, and I’m feeling down about my figure. What causes ‘mummy tummy’ and how can I get rid of it effectively?
A. As you’ve discovered, the body goes through a huge number of changes with, and then following pregnancy. What you have described as ‘mummy tummy’ can be caused by a combination of skin excess, stretch marks, rectus divarication (splitting of the ‘six-pack’ muscles), and scarring following caesarian section.
The skin is elastic, so when stretched during pregnancy, it is often able to shrink back following birth. However, if your skin is stretched too far it will not be able to fully shrink after birth. The excess skin and stretch-marks can be removed with an abdominoplasty procedure.
Sometimes it may be possible to perform a mini abdominoplasty, leaving the tummy button alone, and leaving a short scar along the bikini line. If skin excess and stretch marks are more extensive, then a full abdominoplasty may be required. Here an incision is made along the bikini line from hip to hip, and there will also be a scar around the tummy button. With pregnancy, the rectus muscles can be pulled apart, leaving a central and vertical bulge in the tummy wall. Unfortunately, if after three years this is still the case, no amount of exercise or physiotherapy will correct it. The rectus muscles can be tightened up during abdominoplasty to produce a flatter tummy and help to improve the waistline.