Getting your body back after baby is at the top of many new mum’s wishlist. A tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty) leaves the tummy flat, firm, and smooth similar to your pre-baby body. But what happens if you get pregnant after a tummy tuck? Today, you’ll learn why it’s safe to have a baby after tummy tuck surgery — but also some warnings about why you might not want to.
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Can I get pregnant after a tummy tuck?
Doctor Bernard Beldholm, FRACS recommends that you finish having kids and then have your tummy tuck, and that’s pretty standard. You’ll find that most plastic surgeons and specialist body contouring surgeons would advise you of that.
You might have decided that, okay, I’ve had three kids, or two kids, or one kid and that’s it. I’m not having anymore. It’s time for my tummy tuck. However, women can and do get pregnant after tummy tucks. These may be a planned or unplanned pregnancies.
Has anyone had a baby after a tummy tuck?
Yes, they have. And that’s well documented in medical literature. Doctor Bernard recently read a case study of 92 women that got pregnant after tummy tucks. There has been other case studies in the literature with pregnancy after tummy tucks as well.
Is it safe to get pregnant after tummy tuck?
An August 2020 research paper followed 92 women that got pregnant after lower body contouring work, such as tummy tucks. That study concluded that it is safe. None of the pregnancies were lost. The article didn’t mention the cosmetic side of things, but concluded it was safe for the baby throughout the pregnancy. There were also no reported issues with delivering the baby after having a past tummy tuck.
There was a slightly increased rate of c-section births for post-tummy tuck patients, but in general there were no delivery issues there. While there is not much other research, Doctor Bernard has read medical literature in the past that also suggest it is safe to have a baby after tummy tuck surgery. As far as we know, it appears to be medically safe for both mum and baby, but you should be closely monitored. Let your OB/GYN and perhaps the tummy tuck surgeon know. But based on the current medical literature, it seems to be safe.
Does a tummy tuck affect fertility?
No. Tummy tucks do not affect fertility. A tummy tuck does involve surgery on the abdominal cavity, but it is not very deep. It works closer to the skin surface. Even a tummy tuck with muscle repair only involves the top layer of abdominal muscles. A tummy tuck with hernia repair also does not go very deep into the abdomen either.
Even other kinds of abdominal surgeries that go deep into the abdomen are unlikely to affect fertility, assuming it is not a surgery that involves the reproductive organs. A tummy tuck does not involve the reproductive organs, thus fertility is not affected. Even if a patient has vaginal rejuvenation such as vaginal muscle tightening or pelvic floor repair, that does not affect the quality or fertility of a woman’s eggs based on what we know today. Unless you have a hysterectomy (womb removal) or female sterilization to prevent pregnancy, for example, there is nothing that would prevent you from getting pregnant again after a tummy tuck.
While most women don’t get pregnant after a tummy tuck, this is usually by choice. You may not hear of women getting pregnant again after ta tummy tuck, but that is generally because they are choosing to prevent pregnancy with contraceptives since they are done building their family.
Most women that get tummy tuck surgery do so because they aren’t planning to get pregnant again and are ready to fix their body. So if you haven’t met anyone that has been pregnant after having a tummy tuck, that is most likely the reason. They just don’t want to risk undoing the abdominoplasty results by getting pregnant again.
How soon after tummy tuck can I get pregnant?
While it’s technically possible to get pregnant at any time after having a tummy tuck, it’s advised to wait at least 12 months before getting pregnant again. Ideally you will be finished having children before deciding to have a tummy tuck. But if you do have a tummy tuck and want to have more kids, waiting at least one year after tummy tuck surgery to get pregnant is the way to go.
The body needs time to heal after surgery. It takes time for the scars to soften and for everything to settle. The abdomen can feel tender for a few months. You’ll likely want to take it easy for a bit so the swelling can go down.
Pregnancy puts a lot of wear and tear on the abdomen. That would probably be a very uncomfortable feeling if you just had a tummy tuck recently. The tissues aren’t fully healed. Waiting a minimum of 12 months after tummy tuck is the ideal time if you plan to get pregnant again. If you get pregnant sooner, you will have to be very closely monitored by your doctor.
Will a future pregnancy undo the results of a tummy tuck?
Yes, it’s likely to cause a repeat of the cosmetic problems you had the first time you got pregnant. While there’s nothing in the research to suggest pregnancy is unsafe after tummy tuck surgery, if you get pregnant or gain (then lose) a lot of weight, you’re liable to get loose skin again.
Most likely, there will be some stretching on the tissues, just the same as it would on a pregnant women that has never had a tummy tuck. This can happen regardless of whether you’ve had a tummy tuck or not. Stretched, loose skin is just a part of pregnancy for many women.
Abdominal muscle separation — a common occurrence with pregnant women — may also occur again. If you had it the first time you got pregnant, you’ll probably get it again. However, case studies in medical literature show that ab muscle separation usually isn’t as bad for patients that had a tummy tuck (or tummy tuck with ab muscle repair) in the past. So if you had separated muscles during pregnancy, then had a tummy tuck, then get pregnant again after the tummy tuck, the muscles probably won’t stretch or separate as much this time around. That’s likely a benefit. But again, there hasn’t been much research on this.
What if I get pregnant after a tummy tuck with muscle repair?
Abdominal muscle separation is common after pregnancy or major weight gain. The surface abdominal muscles — what we think of as “six-pack abs” — are the top layer of several muscle groups that make up the abdominal anatomy. The surface abdominal muscles often stretch or separate along the fibrous connective tissue at the center of the tummy. This is a vertical line the connects the two side of the “six pack muscles” together in the middle of the abdomen.
As the tummy bulges outward during pregnancy, it puts a lot of stress on this connective tissue. After pregnancy, the tummy shrinks back down. But the connective muscle tissue often remains loose. It’s often visible when you look at the tummy because the muscle is so close to the skin surface. It can cause weak core muscles, poor stability, back pain, and an unsightly tummy. A tummy tuck with abdominal muscle repair is used to fix this.
This is known as muscle plication. The muscles are stitched back together at the midline. This tightens the abdominal muscles and separates the gap between ab muscles after pregnancy. Now that the muscle is fixed, what happens if you get pregnant again? The answer is the muscle may stretch again, but medical case studies show it’s usually not as bad as it was before the patient had a tummy tuck. So that actually may be a benefit if you happen to have an unplanned pregnancy after tummy tuck surgery.
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What happens if you get pregnant after a mummy makeover?
What is a mummy makeover? This is a procedure that combines a tummy tuck with breast work. It’s very popular these days because most women have empty, sagging breasts after breastfeeding, along with needing skin removal surgery for loose skin on the tummy after pregnancy. The excess abdominal skin is removed, and the breasts can have a breast lift, breast augmentation (breast implants or natural breast fat injections), or a breast lift with implants.
Current research suggests it is safe to get pregnant after a tummy tuck and/or breast work. However, getting pregnant after mummy makeover surgery can undo some of the tummy tuck results and/or breast augmentation results. The skin is likely to stretch again. While this is a cosmetic issue — not a safety issue — it wise to invest your money in a mummy makeover after you’re done growing your family. It’s also possible for women to breastfeed after implants.
How soon can I get pregnant after TRAM surgery?
First of all, what is TRAM surgery? This is not a particularly common procedure, but it may be done during breast reconstruction or a mummy makeover. A TRAM flap procedure attaches a small amount of a woman’s belly fat and transversus abdominis muscle up into the chest area, where it is used to help rebuild the breast mound. The TRAM flap breast reconstruction technique was originally developed by Dr. Carl R. Hartrampf in the 1980s.
There is a small case study of six women that had breast reconstruction work using this method. The study showed that it weakens the abdominal wall significantly — more so than a standard tummy tuck. Despite this, the study didn’t show any problems with having a baby after. Based on the study, it seems to be safe to get pregnant again even after have a TRAM breast reconstruction as part of a mummy makeover.
Reasons women get a tummy tuck even if they plan to have more children
While it is not the norm to have more kids after a tummy tuck, there are some situations where a woman may prefer to have a tummy tuck, even if she plans to have more kids in the future.
Twins, multiples, or even a single big pregnancy can cause a lot more loose skin than normal. This is especially true if a woman is older or has less skin elasticity in general. There also might be wide separation of the abdominal muscles that is causing backaches as well.
In these more severe cases of loose skin and muscle separation after pregnancy, a women might not feel like she can go another day or month or year living this way. If she really wants to get this fixed, she may choose to have a tummy tuck even if she knows she’ll have a future pregnancy. It’s still smart to wait at least a year so the skin has time to shrink down as much as possible on its own. Then surgery completes the final touch up.
While research suggests this appears to be safe, there are some downsides. The skin will stretch again during the next pregnancy. Doctor Bernard may perform a tummy tuck in these cases, but he will advise the patient of what may happen cosmetically if they get pregnant in the future. He wants you to feel empowered to make the right choice — both cosmetically and financially — based on what is right for you as an individual.
How long after pregnancy should I wait to have a tummy tuck?
So, when is the right time to get a tummy tuck? After having a baby, many women are dismayed to see a lot of loose skin on the tummy. However, it pays to be patient. The skin and tissues will shrink back over the next two years after giving birth. Allow the body repair itself on its own as much as possible. After two years, it’s unlikely that the skin will retract much more. You may also still have some separation of the abdominal muscles that remains.
Whatever loose skin or loose muscles you are left with at the two-year mark is likely permanent. If it’s bothering you, then a tummy tuck is a loose skin removal surgery that can help. A tummy tuck with lipo can even get rid of some excess belly fat. Removing the loose, hanging skin may also remove many of the stretch marks after pregnancy.
While two years is the ideal time to wait before having a tummy tuck after giving birth, some women are truly bothered by the tummy’s appearance. There may be pronounced abdominal separation and a lot more loose skin than normal — particularly if a woman had twins or multiples. Some women just can’t wait. In some cases, Doctor Bernard may consider doing a tummy tuck just one year after giving birth.
The best way to find out what is in your best interest from a medical and cosmetic standpoint is to come in for a private consultation with Doctor Bernard Beldholm, FRACS. He’ll listen to your needs and examine the abdomen to provide a personalized recommendation. The consultation is purely informative. There is no pressure to get surgery just because you’ve had a consultation. But it really helps to know your options.
The standard advice is wait to have a tummy tuck until after all you are done having kids. If a very large amount of loose skin is bothering you after having twins or triplets, or you just want to remove a flap of loose skin on the c-section scar, you can have a tummy tuck and safely get pregnant again. Just be advised having a tummy tuck then getting pregnant again can undo the cosmetic results of a tummy tuck. It’s likely the skin will stretch out again. While you should wait until you’re done having children to get a tummy tuck, there’s no research to suggest it’s unsafe. A tummy tuck also doesn’t affect fertility.