A new study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has found that abdominoplasty (‘tummy tuck’ surgery) with muscle repair may reduce urinary incontinence and back pain in women following childbirth.
Shown to lessen these two conditions, which are often experienced by women following childbirth, presents abdominoplasty as serving a functional purpose instead of simply a cosmetic procedure. Lead author D. Alastair Taylor wants the functional benefits of abdominoplasty to be realized by the health insurance industry, so it can be incorporated into insurance plans.
In total, 214 women were took part in the study across 9 Australian plastic surgery centers, with an average age of 42 years old and 2.5 children. Each woman underwent an abdominoplasty with repair of the abdominal muscles..
Questionnaires were filled out prior to and following surgery, requiring that the women rate their disability from urinary incontinence and back pain. The pre-op questionnaire results determined that 42.5% found urinary incontinence to be of “significant concern”, while around 51% of women experienced moderate to severe disability due to back pain.
Follow up questionnaires carried out after 6 weeks and 6 months, and found a significant improvement in ratings for each issue. At 6 months, under 2% of women continued to find urinary incontinence a major concern, and just 9% were experiencing moderate disability from back pain.
Despite undergoing various forms of abdominoplasty surgery, the ratings for improvement were universal. Urinary incontinence saw no improvements after six weeks, while back pain continued to decrease in the six week to six month period.
The results demonstrate that tummy tucks do have functional benefits, as well as cosmetic ones, particularly in the postpartum population"
Dr. Rod J. Rohrich, Editor-in-Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Previous studies had associated improvements in urinary incontinence and back pain with abdominoplasty, findings that this new study, which featured before-and-after data in a large group of patients, reinforces.
The surgery involves repairing the abdominal muscles which have separated (rectus diastasis) during pregnancy, reinforcing stability and strength in the abdominal and pelvic region. It is thought that this may explain the improvements.