Yes, you read the title right. One of the little-known and unexpected results of a tummy tuck can be improved bladder control.If you are one of the millions of women worldwide who suffer from a weak bladder, whether from childbirth or aging, this article is for you.
If you sneeze, cough, or laugh, and you feel a little leak, you’ll want to read how researchers discovered an unexpected link between bladder control and tummy tucks.
And if you have ever found yourself crossing your legs tightly and squeezing hard in preparation for a cough, you might suffer from Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). This is a common bladder control problem, and you are not alone.
SUI is characterized by uncontrollable leakage of urine with some increased abdominal pressure. Physical activities such as coughing, sneezing, exercise, and laughing can trigger leakage. Even women who’ve only given birth vaginally to one child can have this post-pregnancy condition.
While the joy of pregnancy and childbirth brings much love and joy, they also take a toll on a woman’s body. Pregnancy can stretch the abdominal muscles, specifically those around your bladder. While skin and abdominal muscles can bounce back, other women are left with loose skin, weak abdominal muscles, and stress urinary incontinence.
The Tummy Tuck
Tummy tucks have been used by plastic surgeons for years to remove or tighten excess skin and repair and tighten abdominal muscles.
Recent studies have also uncovered some added benefits of tummy tuck surgery.
Findings from a study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the official clinical publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), show that tummy tucks not only improve body contour but they may also alleviate symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. This is especially true for patients who have not had a previous cesarean section.
In fact, these studies show that a tummy tuck can relieve or reduce stress urinary incontinence in nearly 60% of patients. These results are most prominent in women who’ve delivered children vaginally.
How Does a Tummy Tuck Help?
Tummy tuck surgery not only tightens abdominal muscles and loose skin on the abdomen, but it can also help tighten the soft tissues supporting the pelvic floor, bladder, and urethra.
The result? Tension and pressure are placed along the passage from the bladder to the urethra. This helps keep it closed and prevent bladder leakage.
So, not only do patients benefit from tightened abdominal skin from their tummy tuck, but they may also have some relief for their stress urinary incontinence.
Additional Help for SUI
You may also find some relief in other common treatments for stress urinary incontinence. Here are a few treatments for urinary leakage:
- Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles
- Weight loss
- Bladder Training
- Wearing Pads
Each treatment has pros and cons and a range of effectiveness. You can try these treatments under the supervision of your doctor. While a tummy tuck isn’t a substitute for these treatments, the effect of the surgery on your bladder and urethra is a benefit for many patients.
More Tummy Tuck Benefits
For people who eat right and exercise, and for whom a flat, well-toned tummy is elusive, a tummy tuck can remove excess fat and skin on your abdomen. A tummy tuck can also restore weakened or separated muscles.
What causes a loose sagging abdomen in otherwise healthy people? Causes include heredity, pregnancy, prior surgery, large weight fluctuations and congenital spine abnormalities.
Surgeons can use abdominal contouring with a variety of techniques:
- If excess fat is combined with loose, sagging skin and tissue, your physician would perform a tummy tuck.
- If abdominal muscles have weakened or separated due to pregnancy or severe weight fluctuation, your physician can correct this as part of a tummy tuck.
- If necessary, your physician can also combine a tummy tuck with liposuction.
- If localized fat is the problem, but overall skin tone is good, and stretch marks are minimal, your physician can use liposuction to contour the abdomen.
Usually, you can treat stress urinary incontinence without surgery. Many patients, however, require more care, and several studies have shown that a tummy tuck can aid in recovery, especially in patients who haven’t had a caesarian section.
During the tummy tuck surgery, surgeons can create a slight bladder obstruction using soft tissue near the pelvic area. This in turn reduces incontinence.
To learn more about the many benefits of a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, please contact the Plastic Surgery Center and our board-certified and board-eligible plastic surgeons for a consultation and to see if you are a candidate for a tummy tuck.