Can a Tummy Tuck after Pregnancy Improve Urinary Incontinence?
Any woman who has been pregnant may have experienced urinary incontinence. Something as simple as a sneeze, cough or laugh can cause the bladder to release a small amount of urine. However, this condition is generally more common in women than in men, and happens more often for women who are pregnant. This can certainly be embarrassing and uncomfortable, and in some cases can lead to urinary tract infections.
Interestingly, one of the more popular surgical procedures that our surgeons at Jefferson Plastic Surgery can perform to help women get back the body they had prior to pregnancy, the tummy tuck, may also address the problem of chronic urinary incontinence after pregnancy. What can cause urinary incontinence for women who have undergone pregnancy, and how can a tummy tuck surgical procedure help fix this problem?
What Causes Urinary Incontinence after Pregnancy?
By the time a woman is in the third trimester of her pregnancy, there is little room left in her uterus, as the baby is getting closer to full term. As she nears her due date, the baby will drop, meaning that it will move lower, in preparation for delivery.
This places the weight of the full term baby and the uterus (which can often be upward of 10 pounds) directly on the bladder and the muscles of the pelvic floor, as well as further pushing on the abdominal muscles. As you can well imagine, this could easily lead to bouts of urinary incontinence that can continue after childbirth. Furthermore, a vaginal delivery, particularly if it involved forceps, can also lead to incontinence, due to overstretching the muscles along the pelvic floor.
How Can a Tummy Tuck Procedure Correct Urinary Incontinence after Pregnancy?
A tummy tuck procedure after pregnancy is designed to remove excess skin and underlying tissue, as well as tighten up loose abdominal muscles that have resulted from one or more pregnancies. For this procedure, one of our surgeons will first make a horizontal incision across the lower abdomen to lift up the skin and tissue. They will then tighten up the abdominal muscles with sutures, and then remove any excess skin and tissue before suturing the remainder back into place to create a flatter contour.
A recent article in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery looked at the effect of a tummy tuck procedure on urinary incontinence. A group of 214 women who had undergone a tummy tuck procedure after having one or more children were asked to complete a questionnaire about the severity of their abdominal incontinence both before and after the surgery.
Prior to surgery, more than 42 percent of the women rated their urinary incontinence as a “significant concern.” At both six weeks and six months after the surgery, the women all reported significant improvement in their urinary incontinence, with only 2 percent still reporting having significant problems at six months after surgery. The authors suggested that a tummy tuck procedure could possibly be seen as medically necessary, so potentially covered by health insurance.
Urinary incontinence can be both embarrassing and lead to complications such as urinary tract infections. A tummy tuck procedure may well be an excellent way to address all of these issues at the same time.