Flat Tummy Forever

Text: Jana Hájková, photo: Tomáš Pánek

A well-worked abdominal area has become a symbol of feminine beauty, as have sexy, swelling breasts and slim hips. But what can be done if your memories of pregnancy include sadly hanging skin on your stomach?

Because in some cases, you can exercise and work out like crazy, and yet the unattractive tummy nook will not go away. Then, the only thing to do is to consign yourself to the care of a plastic surgeon. The effect might be unbelievable. I saw it.

„Last week, I bought a two-piece swimsuit for the first time in my life. I wouldn’t have dared before,“ says Monika Kučerová (38), her face all lit up. A mother of two, working as a hair dresser, agreed for us to observe the rather radical transformation of her body. Through changing her diet and regular excercise, she managed to gradually lose 25 kg and stop at 90.

„To keep the weight was easy. It was my stomach – simply a disaster. Surely it was for having children that I couldn’t get rid of the hanging bag of skin that was making me really unhappy“. Monika explains the reason she finally decided to undergo plastic surgery of her tummy, so called abdominoplasty. It is a major surgical procedure that solves the problem of sagging skin and a loose abdominal wall, mostly caused by pregnancy or drastic weight-loss. Monika had had both, therefore she consigned herself into the hands of Dr Zuzana Černá, the senior doctor of the Laderma Clinic of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery in Prague. We had observed the procedure step by step.

How to Transplant the Belly Button

(in the operation room)

We met Monika and Dr Černá five months ago, on the day of the operation. The operation is conditional upon the patient being in a good shape and it requires a good pre-operation examination. „We are going to take a photo of Ms Kučerová standing and at the same time draw on her abdominal area the planned section. It is necessary to measure precisely how much skin together with the subcutaneous fat can be removed,” explains Dr Černá while trying, still without a scalpel, to handle different parts of the abdominal excessive skin. The following procedure takes two hours and is performed under full anesthesia. The section is led right above the pubic hair, between both iliac bones. I want to know if the scar can be hidden in a bottom part of a bathing suit. „The scar is designed to be fully covered by underwear. We try to make it the lowest possible but we are limited by the excessive skin,“ explains Dr Černá. The scars in the abdominal parts can be gradually softened by applying pressure massage. Eventually they fade but of course they do not disappear for good. There is always a price for everything.

Besides removing the excessive skin from the belly button down, a part of the operation is also transplantation of the belly button to the already tightened skin (after tightening the skin, an aperture is cut to place the belly button). „The aim of this operation is also the reinforcement of the straight abdominal muscles that might have been lost during pregnancy. In the course of the operation, these are sutured, thus making the waist slimmer. Mostly it is up to several centimeters difference,“ the doctor adds.

The operation is coming to an end. The upper and lower edge of the skin are sutured together, providing the neccessary compactness. There is still drainage placed under the skin, removing blood and tissue secretion in the first 24 to 48 hours after the operation.

Stay Strong and Do Not Gain

(The first six weeks)

„The pain right after is bearable,“ bravely says Ms Monika who was released from the clinic 36 hours after the operation. „On my way home I was slightly bending, not to put any strain on the wound – that’s what the doctor advised me. Well, you do get up over the side – just like after giving birth, and for another 10 days at home, I was still resting a lot,“ she adds. „I left the clinic with an entirely new tummy, although still hidden in the special elastic wear, to be exact wearing an abdominal belt with velcro strips which was to be worn for another 6 weeks. In general, that’s how long the recuperation takes, depending on the body’s ability to heal. Only after this time you can go back to usual physical load and to sports. Although you can start with mild excercising already after 4 weeks. In any case, it is important to take approximately 2 weeks off and to stay at home. It also depends on the kind of job you do. The good news is that if you abide by the doctor’s instructions, your tummy should stay flat forever. Under one condition – you must not gain weight.

Swimsuit Premiere

(Five months later)

When I ask Dr Cerna what she thinks about the result five months later, she answers: „As for me, I am happy with it, the esthetical result is very good. Moreover, Ms Kucerova has been a very disciplined patient. And that is a precondition to success. But you had better ask her,“ closes the surgeon.

„As all women, I wanted to look good. That tire on my tummy was ruinig my days. It’s all different today. I am quite flattered to be able to borrow my 18 year old daughter’s skirt. It would never have fitted before“, expresses her delight Ms Monika. Now she will have to renew her toilette. Her dream of a new body has almost come true. Only sometimes she complains her breasts are too heavy. „But they might come next. Although my husband likes is, it is not very pleasant to have your bra size G. I’m considering breast modelling. I get acute back pain and it is sometimes an impossible task to get a bra. Or the swimsuit – it took me ages to find one. Yet, I can’t wait to go on vacation to the sea side. For the first time, I don’t have to be shy about being fat.“

Now Everybody Is Suitable for Abdominoplasty

Ms Kucerova was an ideal patient not just because being so disciplined. She also does not plan to have any more children. If it was otherwise, the doctor would have recommended her to postpone getting the abdominoplasty. If she got pregnant again after this plastic operation, the final effect of it might be ruined by the tummy growing bigger. And the ideal age for abdominoplasty? The upper limit depends on good state of health.

Is Lipocution Always Part of the Abdominoplasty?

In most cases it is not necessary, the skin together with the fat is removed during the very operation. If there are still excess fat pockets on the hips, it is possible to complete the operation, after some time, with a liposuction of these areas.

Things You Need to Know

„On principle, I do not recommend to undergo abdominoplasty to patients who have just lost weight. Especially after a significant weight loss, the metabolism is all upset,“ says Dr Cerna. „Ideally, the weight should be constant for 6-12 months prior to the operation and only after a thorough pre-operative examination, they would undergo the procedure. The abdominoplasty is a diffictult operation and there is a higher risk of various complications – bleeding, thrombosis, embolic occurance. Therefore we emphasize the thorough pre-operative preparation. The part of the tummy cannot be just cut off. The parient needs to be in a good state of health and keep a drinking regime 2 weeks prior to the operation – by that I mean 2,5 to 3 litres a day,“ recommends the doctor.

* Treatment results may differ for each patient, we cannot guarantee results exactly as presented here.