Non Surgical Skin Tightening for the Tummy?

I am a mother of 4 children. I had my first child at the age of 16. I was told that because of my young age my skin stretched a lot, hence all the stretch marks. Ever since I have had a lot of loose skin in that area is there anything that I can do to tighten it without surgery???

Doctor Answers 27

Non Surgical Tummy Skin Tightening Usually Disappointing For Loose Skin and Stretch Marks

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Thank you for your question. There are many non surgical skin tightening methods available including Thermage, LuxIR Deep, Titan, Ulthera and others.

The best results of non surgical skin tightening of the Tummy are about 20% improvement. This can be helpful in younger patients who have a small amount of loose skin.

However, from your description I would guess that there is significant loose skin on your abdomen and the stretch marks indicate significant skin damage. Most likely a Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty will be required for a satisfactory result. 

Please read the link below to understand the factors you should consider in making your decision.

See a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for a professional opinion. Good luck.

Quick fixes are usually temporary

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We offer radiofrequency treatments and various fractional and resurfacing lasers in our practice. These offer small benefits in tightening only on the abdomen. Many patients are quite pleased with these treatments in other areas such as the face, as long as they only expect small benefits. They are not pleased if they were expecting tummy tuck results.

Problems around the belly button often require excision of skin, a belly button plasty, or a hernia repair with a belly button plasty, none of which occur with superficial radiofrequency treatments.

For significant looseness of skin in the abdomen, patients should not expect to get tummy tuck tuck results from Thermage, Fraxel, IPL, etc. They are simply no substitute for women who have had children and have a ripped fascia, extra skin, and extra fat. A tummy tuck is designed to address all these problems. For women with more minor problems, there are a number of new tumy tucks available such as the Hybrid tummy tuck or various minitucks, depending on the problem.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Skin Tightining Without Surgery: It Can Work if Applied Carefully and with Appropriate Expectations

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Noninvasive Skin Tightening Work! ..or Does It? Claims, Fact and Fiction

The problem with noninvasive skin tightening is that everyone wants it and everyone wants to believe it works.  The result is practitioners of all sorts capitalizing on this demand.  The truth about skin tightening interventions is that almost all of them work AND NONE OF THEM WORK.  What I mean by this is that there are many ways to convert energy into heat inside or below the skin causing contraction.  The problem is that to deliver clinically effective results the tissue needs to reach at a minimum 43 C which is uncomfortable and can be scary for the patient and the practitioner.  This often results in ineffective treatment and wasted time and money.  I have developed extensive experience with noninvasive technologies mot because I'm a fan but because my patients demand it.  After using several "best in class" technologies to deliver definitive results, my patients were relatively pleased but I was underwhelmed.  THis is why I started using  a treatment that we call Maerckks Multimodal Therapy(MMT) in my practice.  All this is is an intelligently designed multitechnology treatment customized for the individual patient.  I use multiple diffferent frequencies and administration systems for radiofrequency delivery, three different ultrasound frequencies, infrared pulsed light, two different laser systems in concert to deliver immediate significant results that are hard to argue with and continue improving for weeks.  I think the only way to get real results is to combine technologies under the direction of a plastic surgeon that understands the capabilities and limitations of noninvasive skin tightening.  No one technology really delivers anything significant.  Also realiize that even my MMT results that I am very proud of do not remotely compare to what I can achieve with surgery and the cost can approach or exceed that of surgery depending on location and individual patient findings

Improve your skin without surgery

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Yes, tightening lasers (ultrasound or radio frequency) work by heating up the dermis and stimulation

collagen formation and giving you a bit firmer skin. You may also consider an ablative resurfacing lasers

to improve texture of the stretch marks. Most patients often need multiple treatments for optimal


Hooman Khorasani, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Options limited so get several opinions

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First, let me say that in general the question of how to tighten skin without surgery, especially when there are stretch marks, has not been truly solved. Many propose laser-assisted liposuction procedures with claims of skin tightening, but this is surgery and the concept of skin tightening with laser-lipo (for example, cool lipo) has not been objectively proven. What has been reported in the medical literature does not support claims that it is any better than liposuction using traditional techniques.

You may wish to look into Thermage, or liposuction + Thermage. Last year I participated in a clinical trial in which we proved, with objective measurements, that there is more skin tightening of the abdomen with lipo immediately followed by Thermage. Often, it can be done under local anesthesia, so it is pretty minimal as far as surgery goes.

Most of the time, though, if there is a lot of laxity in the skin, a tummy tuck is going to give the best result by far. There is no such thing as a "nonsurgical tummy tuck" so as I said, shop around before making a decision.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Tummy tuck: the only real solution to loose abdominal skin

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I agree with the other plastic surgeons who have responded. You are best off either doing nothing or doing a tummy tuck. Anything in between will probably lead to disappointment.

The basic question is whether you are willing to accept a long lower abdominal scar as a trade for a tighter abdomen. If so, do a tummy tuck. If not, leave things alone.

Ronald Friedman, MD
Plano Plastic Surgeon

Skin tightening without surgery not a reality

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If only unicorns were real.

Skin cannot be tightened by:

  • exercise
  • improving the underlying muscles "toning"
  • creams
  • lasers
  • massage

Skin is like a bathing suit. Skin tone is like the elastic in the suit. When the elastic is gone, it is gone. The only way we have of tightening skin is to cut it out. Volume makes skin look better (ie fat under the skin), as it puffs out the skin. Hydration keeps skin better, though drinking lots of water doesn't go to the skin. I do see lasers which improve the look of the skin for a short time -- 3-4 weeks -- due to the swelling following the procedure.

Don't let someone sell you a rainbow. Many people use tricks with photography to try to convince you.

Lauren Greenberg, MD
Palo Alto Plastic Surgeon

Non-surgical skin tightening does not work.

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If a significant amount of skin is part of an aesthetic problem, the only way to solve that problem is to remove it surgically. Modest shrinkage of skin may occur with some non-operative techniques (laser for instance), but the amount is very limited-maybe 5% or so (nothing scientific has been published). Don't be ripped off by techniques that don't work I see about one patient a week who has wasted money on Thermage or something else that can never be expected to supplant surgery for large amounts of excess skin.

Tummy Tuck = Only EFFECTIVE smoothing for Loose, Stretch Mark covered Tummy Skin after Pregnancy

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While there are a LOT of proposed easy, magical treatments to smooth tummy skin such as yours, they are all bogus. None really work DESPITE their cost.

Unfortunately, there is NO EFFECTIVE non-surgical treatment that would smooth the loose, stretch-mark abdominal skin created by pregnancy.

If you are done having children, your BEST BET is to have an abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) from a real Plastic surgeon (see A Tummy tuck will smooth your tummy skin, remove all loose skin and most of the stretch marks between the belly button and the privates. It will narrow your waist, lift a droopy Mons pubis and could even lift and smooth cellulite of the anterior thighs.

To learn all you need to know on this topic, follow the link below -

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck is likely the best option

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Most women who have been pregnant not only have stretched loose skin and stretch marks but also laxity of the abdominal wall muscles-- simply put, nothing can correct this without an operation, and this muscle laxity is often the major issue.

In addition, I would be very careful trusting any nonsurgical modality that promises to tighten your skin with stretch marks. I would ask to see LOTS of before and after photos and personally talk to patients who have had the procedure. Be careful and invest your hard earned money wisely.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 155 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.