A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, creates a flatter stomach after weight loss or pregnancy. But a study in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed tummy tucks can improve in low back pain and urinary incontinence in women who have had children.
The study looked at 214 women who had previously had children, and were undergoing tummy tuck surgery. This was a prospective study, meaning they started gathering data before women had surgery.
Before surgery women filled out questionnaire asking about back pain and urinary incontinence. These questionnaires were developed in previous studies to provide a consistent scoring system for symptoms. The questionnaires were sent out again six weeks and six months after surgery. The tummy tuck surgery removed excess skin and tightened stretched abdominal muscles.
Back pain and urinary incontinence were better after tummy tuck. The decreased back pain makes sense – tightening the stretched abdominal muscles puts them back into normal alignment. This means the core muscles are working in the correct position, and can better support the back.
As for the urinary incontinence, researchers were not sure what caused the improvement. The pubic area (and the urethra) become ptotic (droopy), so lifting them may restore normal anatomy.
Will insurance cover a tummy tuck?
So will insurance cover a tummy tuck? I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Insurance companies currently cover skin removal after massive weight loss. Extra skin can make it difficult to move cause rashes and skin irritation. But insurance companies have always considered a tummy tuck cosmetic. So even with this new study, getting approval would be very difficult. They also like to consider any new treatment “experimental”, even if the treatment has been around for several years. So if insurance companies do decide to cover tummy tuck to treat back pain, it will likely only be several years down the road after numerous studies show it is an effective treatment.
Even if insurance doesn’t cover your tummy tuck, it’s still a fantastic operation to get a flat stomach and get rid of excess skin. And having less back pain (and urinary incontinence) may be an added bonus!
Dr. Greer is a Plastic Surgeon who practices in Cleveland, OH. Her passion is helping moms regain self-confidence by getting rid of sagginess, wrinkles, and stubborn fat. Read more about her at www.greerplastics.com.
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