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Tummy Control Tactics

By Joanne Togati, LMT
Posted On Jun 21, 2011

It’s time to tighten up where diet and exercise leave you rolling
WORDS Heather Onorati

If diet and exercise leave you frustrated with a stubborn pooch that just won’t tone, a tummy tuck may be the surgical option that can give your mid-section the tweak it needs. However, proper expectations and the right reasons for changing your body are important, says 59-year-old New Jersey resident Reneé. She opted for a combination of services, including the tummy tuck, so that she could remain employable.

“I’ve been a professional woman all of my life and anyone who tells you that there’s not a bias or a discrimination against older women in the workplace is lying to you,” she says. “I always knew that when I reached a certain age that I was going to have procedures done to make me viable in the workplace.”

Though she’s never been considered obese, Reneé has felt the bias against older women, as well as those who are heavy-set. She has seen it from the perspective of someone looking for employment and as a director working along side other executive-level colleagues. She has felt pressure as a hiring manager to bring in younger individuals with “fresh and innovative ideas.” And she has seen other directors and vice presidents force out employees who were heavier.

“Anyone who tells you it’s not out there is not being totally honest,” she says.

TONING THE TUMMY

A tummy tuck, also called abdominoplasty, is the surgical removal of excess skin and fat from the abdomen. The procedure helps to tighten the skin when the skin has lost elasticity in the abdominal area. It removes stretch marks and can be used to rebuild the belly button when the belly button has been stretched out of shape, explains Maurice P. Sherman, MD, of Del Mar Cosmetic Medical Center in San Diego, Calif. It can also help tighten loose muscles down the midline of the abdomen, he says.

Tummy tucks are often performed in combination with liposuction—called lipoabdominoplasty or Avelar abdominoplasty—which is a tremendous advantage for patients who have fatty tissue, especially in the upper tummy. In the past, patients had to come back for liposuction after the tummy tuck, Dr. Sherman explains.  is technique is much safer, with faster recovery and minimal discomfort, compared to the more traditional techniques, he says. A better blood supply to the abdominal tissues during the procedure and less trauma to the abdominal lymphatics reduces post-op complications and pain. “It has been a significant upgrade in treating the aging tummy,” Dr. Sherman says.

As part of her combination of procedures, Reneé’s cosmetic enhancements included both tummy tuck and liposuction to tone her midsection and slim down her sides, explains Reneé’s surgeon Fadi Bejjani, MD, Ph.D, of Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery in Morris Plains, N.J.

As for recovery time, “the procedure was on a Friday and I was actually back at my office on Wednesday,” says Reneé, who is otherwise in good health physically, except that she has multiple sclerosis. “I don’t think I’m an unusual person. Maybe I have a high threshold for pain, I don’t know, but I was able to fully function,” she says. In fact, a week after her surgery, which also included liposuction on her inner thighs, knees, flanks, and fat transfers to the tops of her breasts and her face, she was on a plane to Florida to speak at a conference.

WANTING MORE

More often than not, liposuction is part of any tummy tuck procedure, say both doctors. Though liposuction will help you look better in tighter-fi tting clothes, says Dr. Sherman, nothing will rejuvenate a tummy more, and make it look more like when you were younger, than an abdominoplasty.

If you’re younger with skin that’s still fairly taut and in relatively good shape, with no stretch marks and no significant abdominal muscular bulging, then liposuction may be considered alone, says Dr. Sherman. However, he says, “Patients have to be very well counseled regarding the less-than-optimal results they’re going to get with just liposuction.” Liposuction doesn’t tighten the muscles or the skin. So if there is any amount of loose skin in the abdomen, it may appear worse after liposuction. Similarly, if the abdominal muscles are loose and bulging forward, liposuction won’t get rid of the “pooch,” he explains.

HEALTHY EXPECTATIONS

These procedures are for sculpting your body, says Reneé, who feels it’s important to choose them with the proper expectations. It’s not a weight or cellulite reduction plan, she says. “There are areas that you can’t firm up in the gym, like your inner thighs, and that’s really going to look better; however, I went in wearing a size 6 and I came out wearing a size 6, so it’s not an anti-obesity thing,” Reneé says.

Dr. Bejjani underlines that point. You need to be committed to a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits, he says. If you’re not active, the muscle is left to waste and the skin will wrinkle and sag. In addition, he says the fat is never taken completely out, so the remaining fat can continue to grow. And the significance of this is? Reneé is looking forward to a summer of kayaking, water skiing and biking in shorts and bathing suits that fl atter her fi gure, rather than the jeans she used to wear to hide her problem areas.

“I didn’t want to look like I was 18 or even 30. I wanted to look 40 or 45. I’m very happy,” she says.