Many women seek tummy tuck surgery to restore the shape and appearance of the abdomen after childbearing, but the new study, published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, suggests that it also improves two of the most common physical complaints experienced by women after labour and delivery.
"Abdominoplasty has a proven functional benefit as well as a cosmetic benefit," said lead author D. Alastair Taylor of The CAPS Clinic in Deakin, Australia.
The study covered 214 women undergoing abdominoplasty with repair of the abdominal muscles at nine Australian plastic surgery centres.
The women's average age was about 42 years, with an average of 2.5 deliveries.
Before and after surgery, the women completed questionnaires rating their disability from back pain and urinary incontinence.
In the preoperative questionnaires, about 51 percent of women had moderate to severe disability from back pain, while urinary incontinence was a "significant concern" for 42.5 percent.
On follow-up questionnaires at six weeks and six months, scores for both problems showed major improvement, the study said.
At six months, only nine per cent of patients still had moderate disability from back pain. Urinary incontinence remained a significant problem for less than two per cent of women, the findings showed.
"By reducing the problems of back pain and incontinence, abdominoplasty with rectus repair leads to a better life for women after childbearing," Taylor said.