When diet and exercise don’t work, surgery may be an option to obtain a flat stomach. In previous posts I’ve talked about abdominoplasty and combining abdominoplasty with liposuction. But how do you know which is right for you? It depends on what is causing the problem. And there are several possible culprits:
- Stretched abdominal muscles. The rectus abdominus muscles are your six pack muscles which down the front of the stomach. The two strips of muscle spread apart during pregnancy or with significant weight gain, and they don’t always rebound back into place when the pregnancy ends or the weight is lost. This widening is called a rectus diastasis (diastasis means separation), as you can see illustrated in the diagram below. The only fix for a rectus diastasis is surgery; the separated muscles are brought back
together in the midline using suture. This is typically done as part of an abdominoplasty surgery.
- Excess skin. Excess skin also commonly results from weight loss or pregnancy, and like a rectus diastasis, the only fix is surgery. This is the other main component of an abdominoplasty
- Excess fat. This is where liposuction comes in. Liposuction removes fat over a focused area, which can be perfect for the abdomen. But most people don’t realize that there are two types of abdominal fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat right under the skin, and this fat can be removed using liposuction. While you’re reading this, go ahead and pinch the skin of your stomach between your finger and thumb. The thickness of this pinched skin is determined by how much subcutanous fat you have. If it’s a big, wide fold of skin, then there is lots of fat under the skin. Compare a pinch of skin over your abdomen or hips with a pinch of skin over your forearms or neck and you’ll see what I mean. The second type of fat is called visceral fat. This is the fat which surrounds your internal organs. It is inside the abdominal cavity, below your abdominal muscles, and liposuction cannot remove this fat. Visceral fat is more common in men, and subcutanous fat is more common in women.
Surgery can in many cases give you a flatter stomach. But what type of surgery you need depends on what is causing the problem. Seeing a plastic surgeon for an consultation is the best way to find out. You can find a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area by checking the American Society of Plastic Surgery website.
Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.