Why do I always have a pot belly? (photos)

I am fairly healthy and at a healthy weight. I do my best to eat healthy and exercise a minimum of 4 times a week. My weight has varied while growing up, and in the past I've even been deemed "underweight". Regardless of my diet, weight, and activity level, I've always had a pot belly. I noticed my mother always had as well, even when she herself was underweight. Is there anything that I can do? I'm now 30 years old and have not had any children. Thank you for any suggestions.

Doctor Answers 10

Pot belly in slim woman who has never had children

Hi sainephanie
It looks like the strength layer over the muscles is congenitally weak from just above the navel.  You may also have a small fat pad in that area as well.
If you do crunches and lose weight, you will not be able to fix this if I am right.
A tummy tuck will take care of the issues.  On the other hand, if you have a disproportionately thick fat pad and good skin elasticity, lipo alone may take care of it.
All the best.

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

Pot belly in thin woman

It appears that your abdominal muscles are weakened, and this may have always been this way for you. Also there is some fatty deposits present as well. A way to improve this would be a tummy tuck and a small amount of liposuction. I would need to see you to tell if a mini tummy tuck would give you the results you are looking for though. I suggest seeing a board certified plastic surgeon to help plan the right procedure for you.

W. John Bull, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Pot belly at 30 but no children

Thank you for asking about your 'pot belly'.
  • The cause of your 'pot belly' may be excess fat, widened muscle or both.
  • The fat can be removed with liposuction, the widened muscle can usually be corrected with a mini-tummy tuck
  • Result are usually excellent and recovery fast.
  • So see a plastic surgeon for an examination to learn what approach you need - so you can have the tummy you want, that genetics didn't give you!
 Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Why do I always have a pot belly?

Hello dear, thanks for your question and provided information as well.. This is the surgical procedure that revolutionized cosmetic surgery becoming one of the most performed cosmetic procedures. Subcutaneous tissue or fat is removed in order to contour the body in a way that is harmonious and pleasing to the senses. It can be performed in almost all regions of the body such as the neck, chin, abdomen, back, buttocks, thighs, arms and ankles. Usually done through a small incision in the skin through which a cannula connected to a vacuum is applied, it can be performed alone or in combination with other procedures. After liposuction your body is going to be really swollen for at least 2 to 4 months after your surgery. It is important for you to wear your compression garment for at least 6 months, the first 3 months 24/7 and then the last 3 months at least 12 hours per day for your body get use to not having the faja for so many time. When you remove it, your body can get swollen and also you can have pain. Remember to also compress your body to prevent a seroma which is an accumulation of liquid that has to be drained, it is hard to touch and also really painful. Bruises are completely normal for almost 3 months from surgery, that’s why is better for you to use a bruising cream and apply it all over your body 3 times a day. To prevent bad circulation and swollen legs, use compression socks. Brazilian butt lift can be performed with the same procedure and for a month it will be swollen and it will drop a little bit without losing it’s shape if you use your garment.. If you’re going to perform liposuction on your inner, outer, anterior, lateral, postetior thighs, be careful and consult with your surgeon what’s best for you, sometimes we have more extra skin than fat, that can cause severe sagginess on our legs, which can be only be reversed performing a thigh lift…

Tania Medina de Garcia, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 397 reviews

VASER Hi Definition Liposuction / Body Contouring with Fat Grafting VERSUS SCULPSURE NON INVASIVE

For my younger fit patients we do a lot of non invasive treatments.  However, if you truly want a full body contouring results with fat loss, skin tightening and sculpting you can get a VASER HI DEF 4D body shaping procedure which would transform your body rather than just a small amount of fat removal.  Please consult an expert.  Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 190 reviews

Abdominal laxity vs. fatty deposit

Hi!You likely have a weak abdominal wall (weak muscle or weak fascia- the tough layer that holds the muscles together) and/or a local deposit of fat in that area.  Of course diet and exercise of the abdominal muscles should be tried first (sounds like you're already past this).  If it is a weak abdominal wall then a tummy tuck would be the answer.  If its a localized fatty deposit then liposuction would be a good option.  Find a board certified plastic surgeon and do an in person consultation.  She/he will help steer you in the right direction.  Best wishes!

Maida Parkins, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Why do I always have a pot belly.

There can be two issues in your lower abdomen, a local deposit of fat in the abdomen, and a poor abdominal tone. You can try to pull the lower stomach in by standing straight and tall and draw you abdomen inward and see what your contour looks like. Some will have a tendency to relax the abdomen as habit and be "abdominal" breathers rather than with the chest. Aerobic exercise, yoga and dance can help change habits, and liposuction too can reduce the lower tummy if anything is there.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Concerns about a potbelly

The shape of your abdomen is determined by multiple factors.  Skin, subcutaneous fat, abdominal wall musculature, and intra-abdominal contents all can contribute to a 'potbelly' appearance.  The presence of a hernia or diastasis (muscle separation) can also contribute to a 'potbelly' appearance.  A good physical exam of your abdomen by a plastic surgeon would determine what is the cause of your potbelly and the best intervention for correcting it.

Robert J .Paresi Jr., MD, MPH
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Abdominal wall contour

There are four muscular layers to the anterior wall - the rectus abdominis, the external obliques, the internal obliques and the transversalis.  These muscles, and their strength, contribute to the abdominal contour.  There is a known weak spot in the lower abdomen below the level of a muscle transition called the arcuate line.  This leads many women to have a pouch or pot belly in that region.  While strengthening your abdominal core will help, sometimes, this area of the lower belly remains resistant.  Genetics can certainly play a role in this.
Short of exercise, which it sounds like you are already doing, the only way to correct this would be with an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and a muscle plication (where the muscles are tightened on the inside).  The caveat to this is that surgery is best performed after you are done having children (if you plan to) and when you are at your goal weight.  It would be worth it to see a plastic surgeon for a discussion of the procedure and a full assessment and formal opinion.  Good luck!

Kirsty Boyd, MD, FRCSC
Ottawa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Why do I always have a pot belly?

Genetics can play a big part in our appearance. You seem to have some laxity of your abdominal muscle tone as well as a centralized excess of fat around your mid abdomen. Core abdominal strengthening exercises can help improve your muscle tone and will do more for you than sit ups. If you cannot lose the excess fat, you can consider having liposuction to thin the fat layer. You could also have a tummy tuck with tightening of the muscles, but I would not recommend this now unless you are certain that you are not wanting to have children in the future.

Don W. Griffin, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 72 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.