Ask a doctor

Tummy Tuck Vs Laser Skin Tightening for Minimal Loose Skin After Pregnancy

I've had three children via C-section, and a hysterectomy. I am 5'2 and 112 pounds and exercise a few times a week. Although my stomach looks flat when I am standing up, I have skin that hangs down when I bend over, with a few stretch marks that make it look gross. Would laser skin tightening be effective, or would I need a Tummy Tuck to correct this?

Doctor Answers (67)

Laser Liposuction and Skin Tightening May Be An Option

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

kygirl,

I agree with most of what the above doctors have said.

However, my experience with the new SlimLipo laser liposuction on the tummy has been very positive-see before and after pictures of mini tummy tuck and laser liposuction.

The laser liposcution enabled me to remove fat and tughten skin of the abdomen above the area of skin removal by the mini tummy tuck.

The laser liposuction alone has also created some dramatic results for me in the 70 year old patient pictured here.

If you have a separated tummy muscle, called a diastasis recti, or a hernia you will have to have the surgery.

If you are fit and have minor tummy fat and loose skin, as you suggest by the fact that you only see laxity when bending over, then the laser liposuction method may be all that you need.

The problem for you is finding a board certified plastic surgeon who uses this new technique which is not widely available yet.

DO NOT risk going to a medspa or doctor who is not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Tummy Tuck Vs. Laser Skin Tightening

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
In my plastic surgery practice, we have a fully integrated medical spa including lasers for skin tightening. The results of laser skin tightening can be quite dramatic on the right patient. The areas that respond best are face, neck and upper arms. We have had patients experience great success with skin tightening of the knees and a few have even had great results with skin tightening of the tummy.
Having said that, laser skin tightening can be VERY unpredictable, particularly with regard to skin of the body. There are very few situations where we would even consider performing laser skin tightening of the abdomen.
If a patient has stretch marks, that generally means the skin has been compromised and will very like NOT respond to laser skin tightening. If there is significant redundant skin we would not attempt laser skin tightening of the face or body.
So, even in a practice with several patients who have experienced great results with laser skin tightening of the abdomen, I feel that this will be effective in a very small percentage of patients we see, and even the patient who might be a good candidate we are careful not to over promise what laser skin tightening can deliver in the abdomen.
For anyone considering laser skin tightening ot laser skin rejuvenation, seek this treatment from a board certified plastic surgeon who has more than option to offer you for whatever your concern. As they say, 'If your only tool os a hammer, then the whole world is a nail'. In almost all cases of excess skin in the abdomen, a tummy tuck is the best procedure.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Tummy Tuck gives more substantial results

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Skin tightening technology based on laser or liposuction techniques (laser lipo, ultrasound or regular lipo) may make small differences in skin tightening. They have the advantage of being quick with minimal downtime in comparison to surgery. There is significant marketing pressure from the manufactures of many of these laser technologies so you have to sort through some of that.

Abdominoplasty on the other hand can make a significant difference in your abdominal contour by addressing significant amounts of excess skin as well as tightening your core abdominal muscles. The trade-off is requiring a general anesthetic and having a significant scar.

Typically patients with significant excess skin require an abdominoplasty.

I hope this helps.

Laser skin tightening vs Tummy tuck- a matter of degree!

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Latest techniques in skin tightening, such as the Sciton Joule with it's revolutionary new cellulite busting mode, are capable of shrinking the skin, but to a degree. The real answer if  a laser vs a scalpel is needed can only be made after a careful in person examination of the patient. It all comes down to how much elasticity is remaining in the skin. The more elastic the skin is, the more likely it is for me to be able to use a skin tightening laser and obtain a great result! Of course, there is nothing that can replace a surgeon's training and experience as far as the predictability of a good surgical result is concerned.

Z. Paul Lorenc, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Skin tightening for the abdomen

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Some of the newer liposuction technologies have been demonstrated some modest improvements in skin tightening, although it is far from being conclusive or a panacea. Additionally, there has been no treatment to remove abdominal striae (stretch marks) except for excision - e.g. in a tummy tuck. 

As your case sounds somewhat mild, I recommend seeing a plastic surgeon that offers these different lines of treatment so that he or she can recommend a treatment plan to best try to achieve your goals.

Good luck!

Tummy tuck or skin tightening procedures???

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
This is a very good question and we see this question all the time. I know this answer is going to make several doctors below mad but it is a very honest answer. If this is a concern to you then only go to a practice that offers all of the options and can honestly give you their opinion based on a large experience. We offer all. Why is that important. Unfortunately some practices are not that busy and if all they offer is smart lipo then everyone in their eyes is a candidate. The same would be said if all the doctor  offers is a tummy tuck they may be more inclined to think that would be better then nothing but not trully know if it is better then the other option. I know doctors should always do what is best but the reality is that if they trully do not have experience with all the options then they are giving you an uneducated bit of advice. So to be safe just find a practice that does all the various options you are looking for and make sure they are a board certified plastic surgeon.

William J. Hedden, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 181 reviews

TUMMY TUCK OR LASER TIGHTENING

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
In my experience, laser skin tightening procedures cannot counteract the effects of pregnancy on a woman’s body.  After 3 c-sections and a hysterectomy, your abdominal muscles have more than likely separated which can only be repaired with an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck.  However, without a physical examination it is difficult to provide a more definitive answer as to which option would be best to help you get your pre pregnancy body back.  I recommend continuing your research on RealSelf and finding a board certified plastic surgeon.  After reviewing their before and after galleries, schedule a consultation for a thorough exam to find out if you are a good candidate for a tummy tuck or some other less invasive procedure to help reduce your sagging skin.

Be well and good luck!

@norrisplastic

A tummy tuck is your best bet

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
While a laser might give you minimal skin tightening, it most likely will not be satisfactory to your eye. A tummy tuck surgery is the gold standard to remove excess skin, and this would also likely remove your stretch marks (which a laser would not address). Best of luck. 

David Rapaport, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.