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You’ve done hundreds of situps. You’ve tried every diet known to man, and you still can’t get rid of that tummy bulge. Oh, and having given birth several times hasn’t helped either. You might be a candidate for abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck. This operation tightens the abdominal area by removing excess fat and skin.

If pregnancy has made the skin around your middle loose and saggy instead of taut and firm, a tummy tuck may be the only way to tighten your abdominal muscles. This procedure is also an option for women who were once obese and are now faced with excess loose skin. But you should consider a tummy tuck as a last resort and not an alternative to weight loss.

Who is not a candidate for abdominoplasty?

  • A woman who is planning to have more children. During the operation, abdominal muscles are tightened. Future pregnancies could cause a hernia.
  • If you plan to lose more weight. Don’t have a tummy tuck until your weight has stabilized.
  • You are worried about scarring. The scar is long and visible. If this bothers you, talk to your doctor about your options.

Complete abdominoplasty

This is the most corrective surgery. Your surgeon will make an incision low on your abdomen, about the same level as your pubic hair. He/she will cut from hip bone to hip bone, countouring the skin and muscle along the way.

Partial abdominoplasty

If your fat deposits are just below your navel this procedure might be for you. A partial or mini abdominoplasty requires shorter incisions. Your doctor may perform this surgery with an endoscope (small camera on the end of a tube) The operation may take up to two hours as opposed to a five hour complete abdominoplasty.

After surgery

  • Whether you have a partial or complete abdominoplasty, you’ll have stitches with a bandage over them. You may even wear a special garment after surgery.
  • No strenuous physical activity for at least six weeks after surgery. Abdominoplasty is a major operation. You may need to take up to one month off of work.
  • When you arrive home make sure you have a supply of loose comfortable clothing that you can take on and off easily.
  • You’ll need a hand held shower and bathroom chair. You won’t be able to stand in the shower for a while.
  • You’ll experience pain and some swelling following the operation. Your doctor will talk to you about pain killers and other options.
  • You may feel sore for several weeks. You may also feel numbness and bruising that may last up to a month or more.

Risks with abdominoplasty

Complications may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding under the skin
  • Blood clots

These complications are rare, but you are at a greater risk if you have poor circulation, diabetes, heart, lung or liver disease, or if you smoke.

Remember the scars from abdominoplasty will fade slightly, but they will never go away completely.

Maybe diet and exercise are worth another try? If you decide a tummy tuck is for you, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers a pre and post operative photo gallery so you can see how your abdomen might look after the operation.

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Connecting With Bob Greene

If you’re looking for some motivating and inspirational reading about fitness and health, look no further than Bob Greene‘s books–Make the Connection, and the latest one, Keep the Connection.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bob Greene, he is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer specializing in fitness, metabolism, and weight loss. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Arizona and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He is also the fitness correspondent for “Good Morning America” and writes and lectures on health, fitness, weight loss, and motivation, and has been a frequent guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Bob and Oprah met in 1992, and that’s when Oprah’s life changed. He showed her how to eat, how to exercise, and how to live in a new way. Oprah was at her heaviest weight ever–237 pounds.

In Make the Connection, the first book that Bob and Oprah co-wrote, they walk you through the ten steps toward a happier and healthier existence, with tons of encouragement and personal stories of Oprah’s own trials in the “battle of the bulge.” Bob starts the book with chapters such as, “Why We Eat,” “Becoming Self-Aware,” “The Purpose of Body Fat,” and “The Physics of Body Weight.” He goes on to explain the ten steps–which are to exercise aerobically, five to seven days each week; exercise in the zone (at a level seven or eight); exercise for 20 to 60 minutes each session; eat a low-fat, balanced diet each day; eat three meals and two snacks each day (healthy ones, of course); limit or eliminate alcohol; stop eating two to three hours before bedtime; drink six to eight glass of water each day; have at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day; and renew your commitment to healthy living each day. This book has sold millions of copies and has become an inspirational classic.

Now, in his new book, Keep the Connection, Bob shows how to keep the momentum going, and it’s truly inspiring. First, he encourages you with a section on how to get started and how to move to the next degree of mental and physical fitness. He talks a lot about the choices we make in life. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the book:

“It’s important to understand how the choices you make affect your life. You are, in essence, what you choose. We don’t always realize it, but we are constantly making choices. Life is made up of millions of choices made in every moment of every day of every year in your life. That is how you create who you are–by the choices you make. Look in the mirror. Take a good look at yourself, and understand that you have created this person through all of your decisions throughout your lifetime.

So many people think that to lose weight and get fit, they simply have to alter their choices on diet and exercise. They do. But they also have to take a good, honest look at themselves. And that is probably the most difficult thing to do. You must be willing to look inside yourself to see what needs changing. Then you have to find the strength within to change permanently. In many cases, doing this involves admitting that you have made poor choices in your life. For many of you, this will be a painful admission. It’s painful but necessary!

Embracing this concept is essential to accomplishing what you want and, more importantly, keeping what you want. It’s a crucial element in the new foundation you’re building. You create yourself through choice.”

Then Bob takes you step by step, explaining certain exercise moves and rooting for you along the way–from ab routines to weight machines, to working in “the zone.” He also includes instructions and photos on each exercise, including stretches.

Lastly, the book concludes with an entire section of healthy, delicious recipes. He claims the meals will leave you feeling satisfied, and in addition to the weight loss benefits, there are also health benefits of lower cholesterol and better heart health.

Let today be your day to make the wise choice of either making the connection, or keeping it.