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Does Tummy Tuck Improve Urinary Incontinence?

February 27, 2015

It’s an embarrassing issue, but the embarrassing truth is that a large percentage of adults deal with urinary incontinence. Surprisingly, one of the solutions is a tummy tuck.

Tummy Tuck

Tummy tucks improve stress urinary incontinence in most women, and possibly also in men, although men have not yet been researched. A recent study by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery proved this by showing improvement in 60% of women after tummy tucks, especially in those who have not had Caesarean sections.

These results were not surprising to the cosmetic enhancement community. We have known for years that there are many solid theoretical reasons that tummy tucks should help incontinence. Let’s look at what stress urinary incontinence is and why tummy tuck surgery helps.

What Causes Stress Urinary Incontinence

Stress urinary incontinence is caused by a weakness in the muscle or nerve controlling the urinary sphincter. Without support, the urethra sags and bends, making it difficult for the sphincter to close. This leads to leaks under physical stressors like coughing, sneezing, exercising, or sexual intercourse.

It is most often caused by childbirth. Childbirth stretches out the abdominal wall, making it hard for the wall to support the sphincter. It can also come about as a result of injuries, prostate surgery, tumors, or medications.

In some cases, incontinence will respond to treatment, like special exercises, diet changes, and medications. In other cases, surgery can be employed. However, for many people, it will never be fully cured. For those with this condition, it is important to try as many treatment options as possible to find the combination that works for you.

How Plastic Surgery Helps Stress Urinary Incontinence

A tummy tuck removes excess fat and skin while strengthening the abdominal wall. This gives the urethra more support by bringing it closer to the muscular wall at the front of the stomach. The added support helps the sphincter stay in control. It also leads to less fat and weight pressing down on the bladder.

In many ways, a tummy tuck helps reverse the effects of childbirth. If your incontinence started with pregnancy, then a tummy tuck likely can help reduce your symptoms. The same goes for weight gain.

For this reason, women who have had Caesarean sections are less likely to benefit from a tummy tuck. As part of the Caesarean process, tissue is removed and the abdominal wall is brought in. A tummy tuck can only bring it in a little more. This does not always lead to noticeable improvements in sphincter control, but is often a valuable solution to those suffering from this condition.


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Robert S Backstein, MD STEELES AVENUE COSMETIC SURGERY
5109 Steeles Avenue West, Unit 13 Toronto, Ontario, M9L 2Y8
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