Is Lipo the Solution for My Stretched-Out Stomach?

I was kindly asked by a fellow plastic surgeon if she could leave a guest blog post regarding mommy makeover.  I thank her for her time….

Did pregnancy leave you with loose stomach skin? Ask any mother, and she’ll tell you: Your body goes through all kinds of changes while you’re pregnant—and once you’ve given birth, they’re there for the world to see, whether you like it or not.

For most women, these changes center around the abdominal area. Your skin expands and stretches to accommodate your baby during pregnancy, which can lead to excess, drooping skin on your stomach; plus, the muscles inside your abdominal wall sometimes become loose and lax due to pregnancy, exacerbating the saggy look the extra skin on your tummy is giving you.

Some women get lucky, and they experience only minimal stretching from pregnancy, which they can counter with a healthy lifestyle. Many women, however, don’t get off so easily—and for those women, no amount of fresh vegetables and exercise programs will restore their tummy to what it was before they had children.

Enter Liposuction?

People tend to view liposuction as a cure-all when it comes to tightening up flab, especially on the stomach. This isn’t entirely a misconception—in some cases, lipo really is the best option to deal with unwanted bulges and bumps. But lipo isn’t meant as an instant weight-loss procedure; it’s meant to reshape and contour areas that stubbornly resist all other efforts to change them. It’s primarily used to target fat (pockets of fat, to be precise) that simply won’t go away, even after dieting and exercising.

With that in mind, yes, liposuction can do great things for tummy with a little extra fat on it—but only if you have very little excess skin in that area. But if your problem is stretched-out stomach skin, lipo is probably not the way to go. Liposuction won’t cure sagging (or cellulite), because it only targets the fat deep down, not excess skin; in fact, immediately after the fat is removed, the skin may actually be somewhat loose for a while, until it retracts and tightens itself back up. If your skin isn’t elastic enough to do that, you might end up with more flab than you started out with.

Tummy Tuck to the Rescue

Where liposuction can’t—a tummy tuck can. Abdominoplasty can both tighten the lax muscles in your abdominal wall and get rid of the excess skin on your stomach that pregnancy has left you with.

Of course, the reason that a tummy tuck can do more than liposuction can in this case is because it is a far more involved—and invasive—procedure. Liposuction is generally an outpatient procedure, and only small incisions are made to insert the cannula that suction out the fat being removed. Abdominoplasties require lengthier incisions, and about two weeks recovery.

Talk to your Doc

If the stretched-out skin on your stomach is getting you down, take heart in the knowledge that there is something you can do about it—it’s just a question of which one. If the stretching is severe, liposuction alone probably isn’t going to get the job done, but a tummy tuck probably will. Every case is unique, however, so your best bet is to make an appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon to talk about your options, and get a professional opinion about which procedure will work best for you.

About the Author:

Dr. Usha Rajagopal is a board certified plastic surgeon with over 15 years of experience specializing in cosmetic surgery for men and women in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, about abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery visit her website:

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