How to Get Your Body Shape Back After Pregnancy

Cosmetic procedures are available to help you tone your abdominal area, and you can even claim insurance for some of them.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Cosmetic procedures are available to help you tone your abdominal area, and you can even claim insurance for some of them.
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You’ve buried yourself in baby books, scoured the Internet, and read every online article there is on how to care for your newborn. You and your bundle of joy may even have settled into a routine during the day so that you can catch some Zs at night. Now that you’ve found some semblance of order postpartum, it’s time to get your body back into shape. But the question is: How do you start?

Pregnancy puts your body through the wringer – from the rapid increase in weight to the ever-expanding belly to accommodate a baby. Even after giving birth, you’re likely to experience weight gain as well as loose skin and swelling in the tummy area. If you want to get things back to where they were pre-pregnancy, new technologies and treatments are available to make it easier and faster to look and feel as good as before.

Weight gain

After having children, you lose the abdominal tightness you once had. No matter how much core exercise you do, weak abdominal muscles mean that you may not be able to get the same toned midriff that you had, pre-baby. During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles are stretched and separated to make room for the growing baby, but in some women, the muscles never fully return to their original positions and remain somewhat separated. In this condition, known as diastasis recti, the belly sticks out because the space between the left and right abdominal muscles has widened. It can even cause some women to look several months pregnant even after giving birth.

If you find it hard to get rid of abdominal bulges post-pregnancy, even with diet and exercise, you might want to consider liposuction. This procedure tones and slims by removing stubborn fat deposits in localised areas through small puncture holes. At Allure Plastic Surgery, plastic surgeon Dr Samuel Ho employs a S.A.F.E liposuction technique that was developed by established American plastic surgeon, Dr Simeon Wall Jr. As the technique’s abbreviated name suggests, it allows low-risk liposuction to be performed even in repeat cases, where you would encounter many difficulties by using other techniques. The surgery – which can be carried out on areas of the body like thighs, calves and abdomen – is also great for those with lower pain tolerance, because a tumescent fluid is administered to relieve pain and minimise bleeding. Some bruising is expected after the procedure, but it should fade after a week to 10 days. You will have to wear a compression garment for four to six weeks to help with your recovery.

Additionally, with this procedure, harvested fat can be processed and the purified fat grafted into areas where you want to enhance your contours. For example, when breastfeeding, the flow of milk can stretch your breast tissue. This leaves some women’s breasts with a “stretched out” look when the milk-producing structures go back to their pre-pregnancy size. That’s where fat grafting can help, by correcting the shape and size of the breasts.

Loose skin after weight loss

Compounding the problem of a persistent post-partum belly bulge is loose skin in the tummy area, and the stretch marks that result from the abdomen expanding to accommodate an infant for nine months. These aren’t concerns that can be solved by a diligent fitness routine and strict diet alone.

Enter abdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck. Better than your trusty shapewear, the procedure helps to remove excess fat and skin by restoring separated muscles to create a smoother and more toned abdominal profile.

One of the most common tummy-tuck procedures for post-partum mothers is the mini-abdominoplasty. You don’t have to worry about scars from this tummy tuck showing when you are wearing a cropped top or swimsuit, because the scar will be hidden where a caesarean scar might be – and is even the same length as one. On top of that, simple umbilical defects and splaying of the abdominal rectus muscles can also be corrected through this short incision.

Post-pregnancy bulge

The separation of the abdominal muscles can cause an unsightly bulge that is especially noticeable after a heavy meal or strenuous exercise. So what’s the best option?

An abdominal laxity correction – which involves repairing the abdominal muscles to close the separation through a small incision in the lower abdomen – can correct a post-partum bulge.

You can go home on the same day as the procedure, and should be able to return to work after three or four days, but you must put off strenuous activities for a month. You will have to wear a compression garment for four to six weeks to prevent snapping of the sutures and recurrence of the bulge. Also, some abdominal tightness, especially after meals, is expected. The feeling of bloatedness will wear off in the weeks following the surgery as your body adapts to its newly tightened abdominal musculature.

It’s not what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside Contrary to popular belief, seeing a plastic surgeon isn’t just for cosmetic reasons; it can also be for functional reasons, like a weakening of the abdominal cavity that not only makes weight loss difficult but almost impossible, despite your best efforts.

According to Dr Ho, when one of his patients “did her first sit-up in 10 years after her tummy-tuck surgery, it was a life-changing experience for her”. He had repaired her abdominal muscle and corrected a hernia, a problem that occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Better yet, procedures like hernia repairs are insurance-claimable.

So if you want to feel more confident post-pregnancy, you may want to check out these innovative treatments for “rehabbing” your tummy and skin.

Allure Plastic Surgery

#22-04 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road Tel: 6734-9988