If you fear weight gain after a tummy tuck or have gained weight after the operation, worry not because you can reverse the excess weight gain and even avoid it if you are proactive.1
The information below will guide you through potential causes, their effects, the best methods to avoid weight gain, and how you can slim down if you’ve already gained weight after a tummy tuck.
Whether you’re considering a tummy tuck or have already gone under the knife, this knowledge will empower you to make healthy choices and help you be confident in your own skin.
Can You Gain Weight After a Tummy Tuck?
Those considering getting a tummy tuck–formally called an abdominoplasty–are likely curious: can you gain weight after a tummy tuck? What happens if you gain weight after a tummy tuck?
Weight gain after abdominoplasty is possible due to many variables from eating habits, exercise levels and medications to pregnancy, health conditions, and mobility issues, but the regained weight won’t be carried in the same areas.
Even if the weight gain after a tummy tuck is enough to be noticeable, you’ll carry it differently because removed fat cells cannot be replaced; you won’t hold fat in the areas altered by surgery but it may collect around the hips, upper abdomen, or pubic area.
Nearly everyone who has a tummy tuck experiences short-term weight loss (after the temporary weight gain and swelling go down), but about 20% of patients had gained weight within the year after their surgery. Most of those who gained weight back still reported being glad they’d had the procedure done because their stomach remained flatter than it would’ve been without the tummy tuck.
In 2014, researchers studying pain and sensory issues after abdominoplasty interviewed 214 previous patients who’d had an abdominoplasty from 2006 to the time of the study.
Their findings indicated 81% of patients–whether they’d gained weight or not–reported ongoing abnormal skin sensation and many asserted they had hypersensitivity and pain.
88% still claimed they were pleased with the results.2
Another study found similar results when assessing complications and long-term abdominoplasty results; of 133 tummy tuck patients who had their procedures 4-10 years prior to the interview, 55% reported good or excellent results and had a nearly 90% satisfaction rate–almost identical to the 88% from the previously mentioned group.3
For those who regained significant weight, added tension and sensitivity may be attributed in part to stretching or pulling where it didn’t previously.
What Happens if You Gain Weight After Tummy Tuck?
Now let’s discuss other things one may notice if they regain considerable weight after an abdominoplasty.
Fat redistribution is likely with gained weight after tummy tuck and therefore, body fat composition may present differently with more of the gained weight likely to end up in the public area, upper abdominal area, or hips.
Swelling is extremely common for the first several weeks after an abdominoplasty but there’s enough skin elasticity that this should go back down just fine given some time.
With significant weight gain, however, it may be a different story; since the skin across the abdomen was pulled and stitched tighter in surgery, there is less “give” afterwards and gained weight will cause the skin to stretch sooner than it otherwise would have.
This can cause one’s skin to look wrinkled or loose; since they likely had the initial surgery to remove excess skin, it’s important to prevent this happening again and “reversing” the surgery’s tightening.
Reversal of Diastasis Recti Repair
Both pregnant and postpartum people often experience diastasis recti, which is when the abdominal muscles stretch so much they separate. This stretching and separation can cause a noticeable difference as it often bulges or pushes the stomach out.
Many choose to have surgery to repair and re-tighten these muscles, as in some cases it’s impossible to harden muscles through exercise alone; this is often done in an extended tummy tuck after pregnancy too. However, if the diastasis recti repair is over-stretched yet again due to too much weight gain, this repair can be undone as these muscles separate again.
Most people will have some scarring after a tummy tuck procedure unless their skin heals fully, but gaining a lot of weight after this procedure can cause the scars to stretch or darken.
Discomfort & Tightness
Lastly, when weight is put on after an abdominoplasty it can be extremely uncomfortable and feel very tight as the skin has been pulled taut. Those hoping to prevent this from happening should work to maintain their weight so as to avoid putting excess tension and pressure on the skin or feeling this discomfort.
How To Maintain a Flat Stomach After a Tummy Tuck
Following a tummy tuck, everyone’s recovery timeline will vary somewhat but general advice is to wait 7-10 weeks to do any form of vigorous exercise aside from walking and daily activities.
After this healing period, you should be cleared to gradually get back into more intense workouts involving the abs like crunches, planks, and sit ups to strengthen the abdominal muscles, as they will have been used minimally for several months.
It’s highly advised to do these workouts as soon as you’re able and cleared to–for general health and to decrease risk of post-op complications.
In a study done to determine whether or not the abdominoplasty is a hazardous surgery, 417 patients were assessed after the procedure; 34 had localized complications, just 6 patients developed generalized complications, and 2 ended up hospitalized.
This research also concluded that those who began exercising again soon after surgery had the most success.4
Further research done on the complications of abdominal plastic surgery supported the assertion that regular exercise can vastly decrease the likelihood of post-op complications.
One of the most serious potential complications of an abdominoplasty is a thromboembolism (obstruction of a blood vessel by blood clot), but this risk can be minimized or prevented through early mobilization after surgery and wearing abdominal compression for 3 weeks after surgery.5
Aside from getting back into ab and full body exercises, strength routines, and cardio, let’s go over some other ways to maintain a flat stomach after an abdominoplasty:
- Clean Eating
- Developing Healthy Habits
- Frequent Lymphatic Massages (Drains and Relieves Swelling)
- Getting Sufficient Sleep
- Lowering Stress Levels
- Maintaining a Healthy and Consistent Weight
- Regular Physical Exercise
- Strictly Following Recommendations from the Surgeon
- Tracking Calories
What To Do if You’ve Regained Weight After a Tummy Tuck?
If you’ve regained weight after a tummy tuck, it can be easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed; although this is understandable, it’s very doable to get back to your goal weight with some time, effort, and commitment.
As soon as you notice your clothes fitting a little tighter or the scale going up, be sure to get back on track to avoid some of the side effects of post-tummy tuck weight gain.
Be proactive and keep a positive mindset. You don’t have to take drastic unsustainable measures, but do begin taking small steps towards gradually working the excess weight off as the sooner you do the sooner you’ll be back where you’d like.
Remember that consistency is key and to create a manageable plan instead of going overboard; not only can you lose weight by walking 2 miles a day on your lunch break or in the evenings, but sticking to a reasonable calorie deficit is a surefire method of lowering your weight as well.
Check out methods for how to get rid of upper belly fat if that’s where the pounds have been showing up, recruit a friend or trusted coworker to be your accountability partner, track your food and macros, or consider joining a hiking group or yoga class for community-based fitness. A 30 day weight loss challenge could be perfect for you if you’re competitive.
If you feel you’re in over your head, consult your doctor to create a clear yet manageable plan to get you back to the weight you feel best at.
Will You Need More Surgery If You Gain Weight After an Abdominoplasty?
If you do notice weight gain after a tummy tuck, you can avoid a second surgery and lose the regained weight through diet, exercise, and working on creating a healthy lifestyle overall–especially if it’s a small amount of weight that’s been regained.
There are plenty of methods for how to lose 10-15 pounds in a month such as finding exercises you enjoy, tracking your calories and macros, and decreasing alcohol and soda consumption.
If it’s been a while since your tummy tuck procedure and you’ve gained a significant amount of weight by the time you’re reading this, rest assured that it still doesn’t mean surgery is your only option.
In fact, abdominoplasty surgery isn’t even meant to be used primarily as a weight loss surgery; it’s mostly used to remove excess fat and loose skin after weight loss.
Of course other surgeries are available for weight loss and it all comes down to one’s personal preference and discussions with their doctors, but even if you’ve regained a considerable amount of weight you can follow steps for how to lose 70 pounds, 100 pounds, or more. Of course this will take time and dedication but surgery is far from the only option.
Clean eating, proper nutrition, moving your body often, and caring for your overall health are the best ways to get started on getting back to your dream body.
How Much Weight Can You Gain After a Tummy Tuck Without Reversing the Procedure?
How much weight can you gain after a tummy tuck without reversing the procedure varies based on body composition, but usually 10-20 pounds of regained weight will be noticeable but won’t “undo” the abdominoplasty by any means.
However, approximately 25 pounds and beyond can cause the skin to stretch (causing more loose skin), leave fat pockets in areas like the upper stomach or public area, or “undoing” diastasis recti repair.
For example, if someone has gained 50 pounds after tummy tuck, it’s likely some of the work done in surgery has been “reversed.”
If you’ve noticed the pounds creeping back on after an abdominoplasty, there are many solutions. Not only can you lose weight by eating less and counting calories, but being sure to exercise often, get sufficient nutrients, and enough sleep can all help reduce weight gain after tummy tuck.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Weight Gain After Liposuction and Tummy Tuck Possible?
Weight gain after liposuction and tummy tuck is possible and fairly common, with about 1 in 5 people gaining weight within a year of their procedure. However, weight gain after “mommy makeover” procedures can be burned off again through proper diet and exercise.
Is Weight Gain After Tummy Tuck Painful?
Many people worry if they get fat after a tummy tuck it will be physically painful; this can happen due to the immense tension on the tightened skin as it stretches, so it’s best to maintain a consistent healthy weight.
How Long Do Abdominoplasty Results Last?
How long do abdominoplasty results last should be forever as this is a permanent procedure. However, if excessive weight gain or pregnancy follows, the stretching could basically reverse the procedure.
1GMint. “Fat girl standing next to a skinny one.” Canva. Accessed 26 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEJI7T_uIs-fat-girl-standing-next-to-a-skinny-one/>
2Presman, B., Finnerup, K., Andresen, S., & Nokolajsen, L. (2015, December 9). Persistent Pain and Sensory Abnormalities after Abdominoplasty. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery–Global Open, 3(11), e561. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26893986/>
3Floros, C., & Davis, P. (1991, April). Complications and long-term results following abdominoplasty: a retrospective study. British Journal of Plastic Surgery, 44(3), 190-194. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1827355/>
4Dillerud, E. (1989, May 20). [Abdominoplasty–hazardous surgery?]. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen, 109(14), 517-520. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2526392/>
5Flageul, G., Elbaz, J., & Karcenty, B. (1999, August). [Complications of plastic surgery of the abdomen]. Annales de Chirurgie Plastique, 44(4), 497-505. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10550925/>
6Ignacio Campo. “closeup photography of pregnant woman wearing blue panty photo – Free Pregnant Image on Unsplash.” Unsplash, 13 August 2017. Accessed 25 April 2023. <https://unsplash.com/photos/FKOjXAbJWlw>