Abdominoplasty

Kelly Anne Spratt, D.O., Director of Women's Cardiovascular Health at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center, answers your questions.

Q. I'd like information about abdominoplasty. I have a saggy lower tummy that has not shown any change in 6 years since my last child was born. I do 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic activity 3 or 4 times a week, I also do various abdominal exercises with and without machines, and I have a regular weight training schedule as well. Nothing works!

A. Abdominoplasty, known as a "tummy tuck," is a surgical procedure performed to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. The surgery is particularly helpful to women who, through pregnancy, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond where they can return to normal. Best candidates for this procedure are men or women who are in relatively good muscular shape but are bothered by a large deposit of loose abdominal skin that won't respond to diet or exercise. The procedure can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen.

It does leave a permanent scar, the length of which will depend on the extent of the problem. Recovery time will depend on the extent of the surgery, but usually takes anywhere from two to four weeks of rest and recuperation, sometimes longer. Be sure to see a qualified plastic surgeon who is trained in body contouring and approved by the specialty board of the American College of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Do think carefully about your expectations after the surgery and discuss them with your surgeon, but it sounds as if you would be an ideal candidate to benefit from this.