Why Isn’t The Upper Part Of My Tummy As Flat As The Lower Part After My Tummy Tuck?

Q: I had a tummy tuck recently and as part of it my muscles were sewn back together. I was told there were several inches apart.  My tummy now is very flat in the lower half but the upepr half still has somewhat of a bulge. Do you think that is because the muscles weren’t sewn up togethere this high. I am confused as I thought the whole tummy would be flat from top to bottom. What are your thoughts?

A: The purpose of sewing the vertically-oriented rectus muscles in a tummy tuck together is to help correct one part of the tummy bulging problem. How much tummy skin and fat you have makes up the other components of the bulge. This muscle sewing is usually done from just under the rib cage in the middle (top of the inverted V) the whole way down to the just above the pubic bone. But it is up to the plastic surgeon’s discretion as to whether it is beneficial to cover this entire vertical length or not. More pain after surgery comes from more muscle sewing so there is no reason to do more  than is really needed. Not every patient needs the entire vertical length of the muscles swen together as tight as possible.

It is extremely common to see a different amount of improvement in the tummy bulge from that above the belly button to that below it.. The best result is seen between the belly button and the pubis because this is where the skin and fat have been completely removed and replaced with skin and fat from above. Between the rib cage and the belly button, there still may be some remaining bulge as this skin has just been pulled down and stretched but not removed. That is likely the reason you have some bulge remaining in this area, not because the muscle hasn’t been sewn back together. In thin women, this issue may not appear. But in those patients that had thicker amounts of fat under the skin in the upper abdominal area to begin with, the upper tummy area will not be as flat as the lower. This can be improved later with some liposuction to thin out the tissue thickness in this upper tummy area.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana