Solutions for Loose Skin on Abdomen?

I am a thin, physically fit woman of 50 - 5'4, 105 pds. My abdomen is in good shape with excellent muscle tone. I have loose skin on the abdomen, probably as a result of weight loss/age. Any non-surgical options? If surgery is the answer, would I need a full tummy tuck to just get rid of the skin? I do have secondary lymphedema in my left leg ( under control) and am hesitant to do anything that could further damage my lymphatic system. Thank you!

Doctor Answers 9

Tummy tuck necessary for a lot of loose skin.

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1)  I don't think there is a really effective non surgical way to tighten loose skin.

2)  Very few people are helped by mini tummy tuck because it does not tighten upper abdomen.  Skin only full tummy tuck is easier.

3)  Of course I don't know your medical history, but superficial tummy tuck should not harm lymphatics.

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Non-surgical skin tightening of the tummy will give you about 20% tightening of what a tummy tuck will provide

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Thank you for your question. You sound as though you are in excellent condition, spin and only have a small amount of loose skin on your tummy.

With your history of lymphedema I would be reluctant to perform a full tummy tuck on you for fear of interfering with lymphatic drainage from your lower extremities.

And a person like you nonsurgical skin tightening is certainly a consideration. While nonsurgical skin tightening cannot achieve the same tightening as a tummy tuck, in patients like you you can achieve as much as 20% tightening.

The most important and crucial thing is defined an operator\physician who is experienced and knows how to use the skin tightening technology. Far too often the problem is not the skin tightening machine but the lack of expertise of the operator that results in failure.

Choose and experienced position, preferably one who is a member of the ASLMS,very experienced in laser and nonsurgical procedures,, who has an excellent reputation in your community, and can show you photographs of results that he or she has achieved. Well-known non-surgical devices are Thermage, Lux IR Deep, Titan and Ulthera.

Loose Abdominal Skin

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Unfortunately, at this time there are no non-surgical options to tighten loose abdominal skin.  There are some lasers that you can try that will temporarily help slight looseness but if you have significant loose skin, an abdominoplasty is what you need.  If you don't need abdominal muscle repair, you may be able to have a skin only tummy tuck or if you are a candidate, a mini-tummy tuck.  It's difficult to say what would be the best option for you without photos or a physical exam, so make sure you consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to see what the best options are for you.  Make sure that you disclose your lymphedema to your surgeon to make sure you have the appropriate tests prior to surgery as it's always best to be safe than have complications later that could've been avoided.

Andrew Smith, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

No good non invasive options for tightening severe abdominal skin laxity

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There are no good non-invasive was to tighten loose abdominal skin - skin laxity is a mechanical problem, and the solution is surgical - you need a tummy tuck. I've had experience with laser liposuction, ultra-sound based technologies and other non-invasive devices - they don't work for moderate and severe skin laxity.

50 year old tummy tuck

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Without pictures, I cannot say if tummy tuck is right for you.  I also need more information to know  whether it is safe to do the surgery.  Specifically, what is the cause of your current lymphedema?  

Loose Abdominal Wall Skin Solutions/ Tummy Tuck vs. Less Invasive Techniques

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For healthy candidates with good abdominal wall muscle tone and with a recent weight loss, a simple manuever can help determine the need for a tummy tuck vs. a liposuction solution.  Bend over and look down at your abdominal skin.  If it significantly hangs over your pubic area as a flap of skin,then you are probably a tummy tuck candidate.  The extent of the tummy tuck is dependent upon:

  • The amount lax skin present
  • The amount of excess skin in your hip area
  • The degree of elasticity loss in your lower abdomen
  • The amount of naval disfigurement

Too avoid lymphedema (swelling  in the lower extremities) a more superficial approach is utilized when undermining the loose skin.

Joseph Rucker, MD, FACS
Eau Claire Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Tummy tuck for loose skin

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Hello. Thanks for your inquiry. The only way to remove loose skin from weight loss is to perform a tummy tuck.  You don't have to have muscle repair; it can be a skin only procedure. It should not harm your lymphatics at all.

Sanjay Lalla, MD, FACS
West Orange Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Abdominoplasty, mini-abdominoplasty, non-surgical skin tightening

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It is difficult to tell what surgical procedure would be best for you without photos or a physical examination.  If you are primarily bothered by loose skin in the lower abdomen, a mini-abdominoplasty would be a helpful procedure to tighten the skin and muscle of the lower abdomen up to the level of the belly button.  If you are bothered by skin laxity above the belly button, the best way to tighten this is with a full abdominoplasty which basically means the surgeon is going above the belly button to tighten the upper abdominal wall skin and muscle.  Your surgeon should be able to discuss these options with you to help you achieve the results you are desiring.

Diane L. Gibby, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Loose Skin On Abdomen - Short Scar Tummy Tuck

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       Nonsurgical options are unavailable at this time, but a minitummy tuck or short scar tummy tuck may offer a solution without having the hip to hip scar of a conventional tummy tuck.  I only make the scar as long as is absolutely necessary, and I can sometimes make the incision about 12 inches long or less while still getting enough skin out to do the tummy tuck.  Find a plastic surgeon with ELITE credentials who performs hundreds of tummy tuck procedures each year.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

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.