There are some people whose bodies seem to bounce right back after giving birth, with nary a stretch mark in sight. And then, there are those whose bodies don’t. But what happens if you experience a pregnancy after a tummy tuck? Will all that work (and money) go to waste? Here’s what you need to know.
What happens in a tummy tuck?
“A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is designed to rejuvenate the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin as well as reconstructing the abdominal core muscles,” Dr. Darren Smith, M.D., FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon tells Romper. Essentially, a tummy tuck will do for your stomach what a bazillion crunches can’t do — get rid of that excess skin that’s been stretched in those last months and weeks of pregnancy.
But if you thought that a tummy tuck only removes excess skin, think again. “The rectus abdominus (‘6-pack muscles’), are often spread apart by the expanding uterus during pregnancy, leaving a weakened space in the abdominal wall called a rectus diastasis,” explains Smith. “The diastasis is repaired by suturing the rectus muscles back together.” Not only does this stabilize the abdominal wall, but repairing the diastasis recti offers support to the lumbopelvic muscles, which aids in digestive and urinary functioning, per a PubMed study. “It is also known that the separation of the rectus muscles is associated with exacerbation of underlying back pain,” says Dr. Nithya Gopal, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN, so repairing these muscles can also help to alleviate backaches.
Is it safe to get pregnant after a tummy tuck?
For the most part, it is perfectly safe to get pregnant after you’ve had abdominoplasty. “There are no safety concerns with becoming pregnant after an abdominoplasty,” says Smith. Another study found that pregnancy post tummy tuck (even if you’ve had a mesh placement for rectus abdominus diastasis) can be safe for both you and your baby. Still, you might experience some complications after a tummy tuck, (like a hematoma or an increased risk of infection), or it’s possible you might have a more uncomfortable pregnancy. “You can absolutely safely carry a child after a tummy tuck, but the skin of your midsection may feel tighter than it would for someone who has never had the procedure and increase some of the discomforts of pregnancy,” Dr. Michael Green, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN, tells Romper. If you are trying to conceive or have already confirmed your pregnancy, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider to go over any potential risks, cosmetic concerns, or even issues relating to your own comfort during the pregnancy.
What happens to the tummy tuck during pregnancy?
If you get a tummy tuck and then start feeling baby fever, you might want to discuss your options with your doctor to know your options and to see if you should wait a while before becoming pregnant again. “Although women should consult specifically with both their OB-GYN and a plastic surgeon, many experts recommend waiting at least six months or so,” Dr. James A Gohar, MD, CEO and OB-GYN at Viva Eve tells Romper. “The real risk is that the rectus muscles can separate again or the re-stretching of the skin and more striae.” (That’s stretch marks to you and me.) That’s why most plastic surgeons will recommend having children first and then do a tummy tuck.
Will your stomach "snap back" after childbirth?
Having had a tummy tuck prior to pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to slip straight into your pre-pregnancy pants after you deliver, be it soon after childbirth or farther down the line. “There will be an unpredictable amount of ‘snap back,’” says Smith. “The method of delivery, whether it’s a vaginal birth or C-section, does not matter.” Adds Green: “The skin’s ability to ‘bounce back’ after childbirth is individual to every person, regardless of whether or not they’ve had a tummy tuck,” he says. “The skin naturally loses some elasticity as we age and especially with pregnancy.”
Getting a second tummy tuck after having children
“Because of the nature and extent of the skin’s stretching during pregnancy, it is very unpredictable how the abdomen will look after weight loss post-delivery,” explains Gopal. “For this reason, your doctor cannot guarantee that your abdomen will look the same way it did after your tummy tuck.”
But electing to have a second tummy tuck after childbirth is not unheard of. While you might not need a full secondary tummy tuck after pregnancy, Gohar adds: “In certain cases, just a limited revision is necessary that most often involves removal of a slight skin access of the lower abdomen. I have always been surprised about how well and anatomically driven a tummy tuck holds up.”
People have different reasons for electing to get a tummy tuck. Thankfully, an abdominoplasty shouldn’t affect your ability to carry your fetus to term safely, which means your first focus can be on delivering a healthy and beautiful baby.
Cuccomarino, S., Bonomo, L., Apra, F., Toscano, A., Jannaci, A. “Preaponeurotic endoscopic repair (REPA) of diastasis recti: a single surgeon’s experience” 2022.
Faessen, J., Meesters-Caberg, M., Stoot, J. “Pregnancy after abdominoplasty with mesh placement: A case report” 2020.
Winocour, J., Gupta, V, Ramirez, J., Shack, R., Grotting, J., Higdon, K. “Abdominoplasty: Risk Factors, Complication Rates, and Safety of Combined Procedures” 2015.
Dr. Darren Smith, M.D., FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon
Dr. Michael Green, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN
Dr. Nithya Gopal, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN
Dr. James A Gohar, M.D., CEO and OB-GYN at Viva Eve