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Dear doctor, I've gained and lost weight but my tummy still bulges. How can I get rid of it?

31 October 2017

Q: I’ve had 2 children and gained and lost weight. I’m now happy with my weight but my tummy still bulges and I have loose skin I can’t seem to get rid of. How can I shift the bulge?

A: Having children and losing weight often leaves people with loose hanging skin or even an apron of extra skin on the tummy. Operations such as caesarean sections usually accentuate the problem. A second problem which follows on from pregnancy or being overweight is splitting of the muscles down the centre of the abdomen. This causes the tummy to bulge outwards between the muscles. Sometimes it can bulge so much that people assume the person is pregnant which results in embarrassing questions!

Losing weight and toning exercises will not get rid of the extra skin or repair the split in the muscles. For most people the best approach is an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) operation. This leaves a scar across the lower tummy which is usually concealed by underwear. There is also a scar around the tummy button. The extra skin and fat are cut away and the muscles are repaired. This is usually a very successful operation with a high level of satisfaction.

Recovery usually requires four weeks off work and another four weeks getting back to normal activity. As with all surgery there is the possibility of complications, however, for healthy individuals with the support of a good local hospital these can usually be managed and kept to a minimum.

For some people with just a little extra skin on the lower tummy a mini-tummy tuck may be sufficient. For those that have lost large amounts of weight after gastric bands or bypasses then more extensive operations may be necessary such as the Fleur-de-Lis abdominoplasty but this leaves more scarring.

Mr Jeremy Hurren is a Consultant Plastic, Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgeon practising at Spire Portsmouth Hospital. 

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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