Tummy Tuck

Q: Dr. Eppley, Does tummy tuck surgery include work on the abdominal wall? I am hoping to get some relief from back pain and my chiropractor suggested I get my abs strengthened.

A: Tummy tuck surgery does tighten the abdominal muscles (vertical rectus muscles) as part of the procedure. That does not necessarily mean it makes them stronger however. It just makes them pouch out less. Whether this would improve your back pain can not be predicted with any certainty.

I think what your chiropractor was suggesting is that you work on making your abdominal muscles stronger by exercise…not necessarily by surgery. (although I was not part of that conversation so I can not say for sure) Abdominal wall muscle plication is done to provide greater structural rigidity particularly when there are defects in the abdominal wall. While a rectus diastasis is not the same as a hernia (it is a weakening of the abdominal wall not an actual defect through it), bring the muscles back together in the midline helps provide better abdominal wall support. This theoretically should help someone with chronic back pain although it is not because the abdominal muscles are stronger per se. They are simply more rigid or tighter in a vertical direction.

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, Indiana