Pregnancy stretches the ligaments and skin of the abdomen to accommodate the growing foetus – this can lead to loose skin around the tummy after giving birth. This lax skin leads many women to seek out an effective surgical solution, such as a tummy tuck, or pursue full postpartum remodelling with a mummy makeover.
This article explores the phenomenon of loose skin after pregnancy, detailing its causes and answering some of the most common queries prospective patients have about the surgical and nonsurgical treatment paths available.
The CREO Clinic’s Medical Director, Dr. Omar Tillo, is an expert in body contouring surgeries that reduce lax skin. He has performed countless successful tummy tucks and mummy makeovers and has the skill and experience to repair and restore the physique after childbirth and breastfeeding have taken their toll.
Contact the CREO Clinic today for an initial consultation with Dr. Tillo and discover the ways cosmetic surgery can resolve your lax skin.
How To Tighten Loose Skin After Pregnancy
When skin loses its elasticity, it can be very difficult to restore its firm, youthful bounce. However, there are an array of surgical or nonsurgical procedures that can help permanently tighten loose skin.
A tummy tuck, mummy makeover, Renuvion, and BodyTite are all excellent treatments for reducing loose skin after pregnancy. An experienced plastic surgeon can help you understand which procedure will be best suited to your aesthetic needs.
What Causes Loose Skin After Pregnancy?
The main cause of loose skin after pregnancy is the abdominal stretching that occurs to make space for the baby as it grows in the womb. Once the skin has been stretched, it can be difficult to get back your firm, taut, pre-pregnancy skin. Younger women with higher natural levels of collagen and elastin may find their abdominal skin recovers more quickly than older women, but there is no guarantee that smooth abdominal skin will return.
Another common result of stomach expansion during pregnancy is stretch marks – thin white lines that appear on the surface of the skin. Sometimes stretch marks disappear on their own over time, but they can remain permanently.
It is difficult to restore the skin in such cases, but the CREO Clinic offers LineLase laser stretch mark removal as a more effective stretch mark solution. This two-part laser treatment begins with Fotona’s non-ablative Er: YAG laser in SMOOTH® mode, helping to induce neocollagenesis (increased collagen production) to reduce stretch marks through skin regeneration. The second stage employs the full or fractional ablative Er: YAG laser to remove any imperfections and reduce scar visibility.
How To Prevent Loose Skin After Pregnancy
There are some steps you can take to help prevent loose skin after you have given birth. Such as:
- Try to limit weight gain during pregnancy
- Keep yourself hydrated throughout pregnancy and beyond
- Maintain a balanced diet of healthy fats, proteins, and foods with high collagen content
- Consistently apply moisturising cream/lotion
Diet And Exercise
The effects of a balanced diet combined with regular exercise can have a positive impact on the loose skin of the stomach after pregnancy. A nutritious diet provides your body with everything it needs to maintain collagen production and keep the skin healthy, and exercise will moderate weight gain and strengthen the muscles beneath the skin – this can help the skin look firmer.
If you struggle with cooking or preparing a consistent diet that provides you with the vitamins and minerals you need, you may benefit from a consultation with a nutritionist who can help you organise a weekly food plan.
It should be noted that the effects of diet and exercise on loose skin are limited, and cosmetic treatment is likely to be necessary in most cases of even mild/moderate severity.
Radio-Frequency Micro-Needling (Morpheus8)
Morpheus8 is a non-invasive treatment that works to improve the tone of your skin through controlled trauma, combining microneedling with the application of radiofrequency (RF) energy to provoke collagen production and restore elasticity. It has a short downtime of up to a week for treatments on the body, such as the reduction of lax abdominal skin.
Who’s A Good Candidate For Micro-Needling?
Any adult wishing to find a safe and effective way to reduce mild loose skin is a good candidate for Morpheus8. People who prefer to avoid surgical treatment or want to take a first step towards surgery may find Morpheus8 is the most appropriate treatment path for them, as it is minimally invasive and has a relatively short downtime.
It should be noted that women who are still breastfeeding will need to wait until the weaning period to address their loose skin with Morpheus8.
Microneedling is an Excellent Treatment for Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are the result of skin stretching — often after pregnancy or drastic weight loss. Morpheus8 microneedling can help to stimulate greater collagen and elastin production in areas where stretch marks are present, refreshing and revitalising the damaged skin.
Morpheus8 stimulates neocollagenesis via controlled-depth needles combined with radiofrequency (RF) energy — this sets the skin on a course to increased collagen and cell reproduction, reducing the appearance of stretch marks on the dermis.
Another treatment for excess abdominal skin post-pregnancy is Ultherapy. This is the application of ultrasound energy to penetrate deeper into the skin – it is a non-surgical procedure that aids the production of collagen and works to firm up problem areas of loose skin. Morpheus8 is often compared favourably with Ultherapy, as it can provide faster, more long-lasting results.
Creams And Lotions
The different ‘firming’ creams available have not been proven to help fix loose belly skin. Data to support their efficiency are poor, and they are unlikely to have a significant effect on lax skin after pregnancy. Dr. Tillo does recommend regular moisturising after childbirth to help keep the skin supple and healthy.
Despite claims online to the contrary, collagen supplements are unlikely to resolve loose abdominal skin or skin elasticity concerns after pregnancy. The effect it will have, if any, will be limited and not enough to successfully treat pouches of inelastic skin.
There is an array of surgical options that can be highly effective for reducing loose skin on the stomach, with each option presenting its own multiple benefits. The following procedures are worth considering if you are concerned with loose abdominal skin after giving birth:
There are four main types of tummy tucks, each designed to match the severity of lax skin and aesthetic needs of the patient. The tummy tuck can remodel the stomach completely, improving aesthetics, core strength, and even your posture.
Full Tummy Tuck
For patients with moderate to severe lax skin on the stomach, a full tummy tuck can be a safe and transformative procedure to create a firmer, more toned abdomen. Two incisions are made in a full tummy tuck: one across the bikini line and, depending on the degree of laxity, another incision around the belly button may be made.
Using these incisions, Dr. Tillo removes lax skin from the stomach and will repair diastasis recti – the separation of the abdominal muscle caused by pregnancy – if necessary. To achieve this, Dr.Tillo will use dissolvable stitches to bring the two sides of the loose abdominal muscles back together.
Mini Tummy Tuck
As its name suggests, a mini tummy tuck is a less extensive version of a full tummy tuck. Nevertheless, a mini tummy tuck can make significant changes to the abdomen in cases of mild to moderate loose skin. A small incision is made at the base of the abdomen, and then the target lax skin is removed. In general, muscle repair isn’t performed during a mini tummy tuck.
Extended Tummy Tuck
An extended abdominoplasty is a procedure that reduces loose skin in both the lower and upper abdomen and the lower flanks – the lower area of the sides where ‘love handles’ can develop. The surgery consists of an incision along the bikini line that extends out across to cover the lower flanks. An incision is also made around the belly button. Loose skin is then removed, and diastasis recti is treated, if necessary.
An extensive abdominoplasty is a comprehensive, extensive remodelling of the stomach – belly, flanks, and muscle separation repair.
Fleur de Lis Tummy Tuck
Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck is a specialist surgery that provides different outcomes than a regular tummy tuck. It is generally performed on instances of severe lax skin, most often after drastic weight loss following bariatric surgery. After the application of a gastric band to treat obesity, huge amounts of weight can be lost very quickly, leaving severe pouches of loose skin that a fleur-de-lis tummy tuck aims to treat.
An incision is made across the whole of the bikini line, then one from the rib cage to the middle of the stomach. Lax skin is excised vertically, and diastasis recti is addressed if necessary. The effects of fleur-de-lis tummy tuck are transformative, taking severe lax skin and firming up the stomach, flanks, and upper abdomen.
Liposuction removes stubborn pockets of fat around the body but is not generally used to reduce lax skin. However, it is worth considering as a way to add the final shape to the stomach – it is common to combine a tummy tuck with liposuction to fine-tune the contour of the torso.
Lax skin on the abdomen is not the only lasting effect of childbirth. Having children can drastically alter the shape of the body – particularly the stomach and breasts, which can alter completely after pregnancy and breastfeeding. A mummy makeover is a holistic procedure that takes these changes into account, combining different surgeries into one according to your aesthetic needs. Common combinations are liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a breast lift/augmentation.
The mummy makeover is a popular procedure with recent mothers but also with women who had given birth long before the procedure or any woman experiencing similar concerns, such as sagging breasts, pouches of stubborn fat, or excess skin around the abdomen.
Full Mummy Makeover
A full mummy makeover includes the typical combined procedures to restore the breasts and abdomen but adds an extra focus on the hips, working to sculpt an hourglass figure via fat transfer. Fat is extracted through 360 liposuction, targeting multiple pockets of excess fat around the abdomen. The fat then is transferred to the hips, adding volume and shaping a more contoured silhouette.
Who’s A Good Candidate For Cosmetic Surgery?
Anyone looking to improve their physique after giving birth can be a good candidate for cosmetic procedures such as tummy tuck, mummy makeover, or Morpheus8 micro needling. However, there are a few important criteria for an ideal candidate, such as:
- Should be at their ideal weight and must have a BMI of 30 or below (you can check your BMI with our handy BMI calculator)
- Must have realistic expectations of their chosen cosmetic procedure
- Must be in good physical and psychological health
- Must want to reduce mild to severe excess lax skin
How Much Does Surgery To Tighten Loose Skin Cost?
At the CREO Clinic, a full tummy tuck begins from £12,900, and a mini tummy tuck begins from £8,900. Should you wish to add extra definition to your tummy tuck with liposuction (two areas), the price begins from £13,900. 360 Lipo combined with abdominoplasty starts from £17,900.
A mummy makeover that combines breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and liposuction begins at £19,900. This price can vary depending on the procedures required to achieve your aesthetic goals.
A full cost breakdown can only be provided after your first consultation with Dr. Tillo, as each surgery is bespoke and tailored specifically to your needs.
If you would like to spread the cost of your cosmetic surgery over multiple instalments, our financing partner, Chrysalis Finance, offers 0% APR loans over a 12-month period.
What’s The Expected Time It Will Take To Return To Normal?
Your downtime depends greatly on the procedure you undergo. In the case of a tummy tuck recovery and mummy makeover recovery, you should require around 10 days off work and two weeks without strenuous exercise. You can expect a full recovery within 12 weeks.
If you choose to undergo Morpheus8 micro needling, there is relatively little downtime – between 1-7 days. In general, Morpheus8 recovery is one week for treatments on the body, such as the abdomen. You may see some red dots on the skin and a degree of initial swelling, but these should dissipate after 1-3 days.
How Long Will The Results Last?
The results of your tummy tuck or mummy makeover are permanent, but care should be taken to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to avoid weight fluctuations and get the most out of your surgery.
Weight fluctuations can create a contraction or swelling in the fat cells, which may lead to the development of further lax skin in the abdomen. The natural process of ageing may also impact skin health by causing lax skin. Procedures such as BodyTite can help to top up the results of your mummy makeover or tummy tuck surgery.
Can loose skin after pregnancy go away on its own?
It is highly unlikely that loose skin developed after pregnancy will go away on its own. It is hard to improve postpartum skin elasticity and reduce loose skin, particularly as we get older, so cosmetic procedures or treatments may be the best course of action to treat lax skin in the long term.
Does a tummy tuck remove stretch marks?
A tummy tuck removes a section of skin in order to tighten skin of the abdomen overall. If there are stretch marks on the skin, they will be removed, but otherwise, a tummy tuck does not remove stretch marks.
Will stretch marks ever go back to normal?
Stretch marks generally fade over time but are unlikely to ever disappear completely. The topical creams and oils available to treat stretch marks and loose skin have limited evidence to recommend them as a successful treatment.
How long does it take to tighten loose skin?
If you have developed lax skin as a result of pregnancy, it is possible that that loose skin will never regain its firmness, no matter how many years pass. A tummy tuck or skin tightening procedures such as BodyTite or Morpheus8 may be the only treatment path available to resolve the excess skin.
Are tummy tucks permanent?
The effects of a tummy tuck are permanent, but care should be taken to maintain a healthy diet and avoid drastic weight gain – this can cause the fat cells to expand and for loose skin to develop again. With this plan, your postpartum saggy belly should be gone.
Schedule Your Consultation With CREO Clinic Today
Book a consultation with the CREO Clinic today and speak with Dr. Omar Tillo, our tummy tuck specialist. As a highly skilled cosmetic surgeon, you can adapt his approach to match your needs and desired results, prioritising your safety while artfully contouring your body and providing natural-looking results.