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How to Get Rid of a Hanging Belly After C-Section?

There are several cosmetic surgery treatments that are commonly used to get rid of C-Section Overhangs.

Tagged: Body & Breast

Author: Mr. Bryan Mayou, MB ChB FRCS

Date: 9th February 2024

Medically Reviewed by:  Mr. Bryan Mayou (GMC: 1414396)

Last reviewed: 9th February 2024

What is a C Section Pouch?

A "C-section pouch" is a colloquial term to describe a belly pouch or overhang in the abdominal area that can develop following a Ceasarean section (C-section) childbirth.  

It typically refers to a build up of fat and loose skin in the lower abdomen area following C-section surgery, appearing in a protruding ‘pouch’- like a bulge. Typically, there may also be underlying abdominal muscle damage caused by the procedure. 

The term C–Section pouch is often used interchangeably with the term ‘C Section Overhang’ or ‘C Section Scar Overhang’. This term, although the overhang term specifically describes a pouch that overhangs the C Section scar, resulting in a hanging or sagging appearance. 

Restoration of a flattened abdomen may require a combination of approaches, including lifestyle changes to exercise and diet and, in the most severe cases, surgical intervention such as tummy tucks or mummy makeovers.  

What Causes a C Section Pouch?

The main cause of a "C-section pouch" is the significant stretching of the tummy muscle and stomach skin during pregnancy that begins to happen as the baby grows. When combined with weight gain during pregnancy this can lead to a build up of fat that forms the pouch once the child is born.  

A further contributing factor is the trauma caused during the surgery itself, which can create alterations to the skin tone and changes to the appearance of the abdominal area. The incision site, in particular, is long and results in a horizontal scar across the pant line of the stomach that can act like a tight belt around, forcing the loose skin and muscle to bulge out over it. 

Muscle separation of the abdominal muscle can also occur during childbirth, called Diastasis Recti, which creates a gap between the stomach muscles. This weakens support in the stomach region, and this can contribute to an overall bulging or sagging appearance of the tummy after birth. 

Finally, skin elasticity can be impacted by hormonal changes after birth, as can the toll of the birth process itself further contributing to a c section pouch. Genetic predisposition also plays a part, causing some women to be more disposed to hanging belly fat than others. 

The interplay of any one of these factors may contribute toward the formation of a C Section Pouch. 

Can You Prevent a C Section Scar Overhang?

It's not possible to prevent a C Section scar overhang with full certainty as some people may be genetically predisposed toward their development.  

However, there are some recommended activities for those seeking to minimise the potential of developing an overhang after childbirth. These include: 

  1. Stay active during pregnancy and maintain your weight. 
  2. Engage in core strengthening exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles during pregnancy e.g. pelvic tilts, and afterwards. 
  3. Wear supportive undergarments immediately after childbirth to support the abdominal muscles and promote healing. 

It is important to understand that even following these strategies may not guarantee the prevention of a C Section Overhang, as genetic factors and individual responses to pregnancy and childbirth have a big role to play.  

What Are the Symptoms of a C Section Pouch?

There are five main symptoms of a C Section Pouch to be aware of: 

  • Pouch-Like Appearance: a bulging or pouch-like appearance in the lower abdomen, just above the pant line.
  • Loose or Sagging Skin: sagging, inelastic skin around the C-section scar area and around the bulge.  
  • Change in Shape: overall change in the shape of the stomach area, noticeably different to pre-pregnancy contours and old clothes may struggle to fit. 
  • Diastasis Recti: a split of the abdomen muscles with a clear gap between them. 
  • Pain: general discomfort in the stomach area as well as potential emotional distress. 

Can a C Section Overhang Go Away Naturally?

Yes, a C Section Overhang can go away naturally, but this is not always the case, and other interventions may be required. 

The extent to which a C Section Overhang goes away naturally depends on several specific factors, such as the underlying health of the individual, lifestyle factors and specific details of the postpartum abdominal condition.  

Some positive lifestyle factors that can encourage healing do, however include: 

  • Exercise and Strength Training: especially targeting the affected core abdominal region to improve muscle strength and muscle tone with the aim of naturally tightening the stomach muscle.  
  • Healthy Diet and Weight Management: to encourage weight loss and the elimination of stubborn pockets of stomach fat and improve appearance.  
  • Time and Healing: to give time for the body to naturally heal itself and improve skin elasticity.  

If symptoms continue to persist and significant changes to the stomach area remain, it may be necessary to explore alternative interventions such as cosmetic surgery to tighten the tummy area after a c section, and the possibility of a tummy tuck or mummy makeover. A highly qualified expert plastic surgeon should provide the proper guidance and advice.  

How Can You Treat a C Section Overhang Surgically?

There are several cosmetic surgery treatments that are commonly used to get rid of C Section Overhangs.  

  • Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty): a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdominal area and tightens the underlying abdominal muscles. This procedure targets those suffering from excess skin laxity and muscle separation. 
  • Liposuction: a surgical procedure that removes excess fat deposits from the stomach. Targets pouches with excess fat rather but can complement a tummy tuck to also target excess skin or muscle damage as part of a more comprehensive combination mummy makeover procedure. 
  • Muscle Repair (Diastasis Recti Repair): a surgical procedure that repairs the separation of the abdominal muscles to bring them closer together. 
  • Mummy Makeover: any combination of the above procedures is colloquially called a mummy makeover. This may also involve cosmetic breast and gynaecology procedures at the same time.  

Where Can I See C Section Pouch Before and Afters?

You can see C Section overhang pictures on our c section pouch before and afters page.

Words From Our Founder

Mr. Bryan Mayou

After undergoing a C-section, many women find they are left with a residual pouch in the abdominal area. Once fully healed from the C-section procedure, patients can consider Abdominoplasty to effectvely address this pouch and achieve a flatter, more toned abdomen. Our goal is to provide patients with the support and expertise they need to restore confidence in their appearance and feel comfortable in their own skin following childbirth.
Mr. Bryan Mayou

Frequently Asked Questions

Pregnancy and childbirth bring about significant transformations in the body, many of which we can’t fully control. C Section Pouches are a natural part of the postpartum journey and many individuals experience something similar.  

If you're struggling with how your abdominal area looks or feels, you should speak to a healthcare professional who can provide guidance on both lifestyle and surgical solutions. 

Yes, a C Section shelf and mummy tummy overhang both refer to the same C-section pouch condition. C Section shelf and mummy tummy overhang are more common terms in the US and around the English-speaking world.

The best way of getting rid of a mummy tummy overhang is a cardiovascular and core strengthening exercise routine and patience to see if you have achieved sufficient results. If not, cosmetic surgery is an excellent option that delivers permanent results.

You can typically start light exercise such as walking from around 6 – 8 weeks after a C Section, pelvic floor engagement from around 6 - 8 weeks and core exercises from 8 weeks. More comprehensive aerobic and strength exercises should only start from around 12 weeks.  

You should always take the advice of your healthcare professional, as each recovery timeline is different, and caution is advised in the early stages of recovery when it comes to any form of high-impact exercise.  

Don't forget to monitor your body closely during the recovery period and prioritise rest. If you feel any form of pain or discomfort, you should stop exercising immediately and speak to your doctor.  

You should typically wait at least six months after your C section to consider a tummy tuck, or any other form of cosmetic surgery, with twelve months generally advised.  

By this point, your incision site should have healed, the swelling properly subsided, and the body generally strengthened enough to tolerate another surgery.  

Your expert plastic surgeon will provide the right advice, but the main goal should be to prioritise your body’s wellbeing in this recovery phase and exercise caution to ensure that any cosmetic surgery is safe and successful. You should also intend not to have any more children to make the surgery worthwhile and the results permanent.

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