Can I Get a Flat Stomach After a Hysterectomy?

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question-icon-newI have been told by friends that because I had a hysterectomy that I will not be able to obtain a flat stomach as they cut the muscles for this surgical procedure. Is this true?

answer-icon-newMany people complain about weight gain after a hysterectomy, attributing it to the surgical procedure. Whether your stomach appears flabby after your hysterectomy may depend on the type of hysterectomy you needed and surgical technique used to perform it. The surgeon may have performed the hysterectomy entirely through the vagina, known as a Total Vaginal Hysterectomy or TVH. He may have made small incisions with the assistance of a laparoscope to remove the uterus and cervix. In this case, he may not have incised abdominal muscles that would leave a scar.

If the hysterectomy was performed by cutting abdominal muscles to remove the uterus, he would have made an incision about eight inches long in the lower abdomen or stomach area. An abdominal hysterectomy would leave a scar that might make your stomach appear flabby and looking a little like a pouch.

Hysterectomies can be a little difficult for women to cope with because they usually take place at the time a woman’s metabolism begins to slow down. This often happens in mid-life, when women may develop issues like cervical cancer or uterine fibroids that cause pain and other problems.

hysterectomy-flat-stomachIt can be hard to completely flatten the stomach after a hysterectomy, but steps can still be taken to reduce the stomach’s annoying, flabby appearance. You might have water retention after the procedure, which can cause your stomach to appear bloated. Drinking more water keeps you hydrated. It reduces bloating in the stomach as well.

Make sure your diet is balanced with an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Modify the amount of food you eat, especially since the metabolism tends to slow down after a hysterectomy. Avoid gas-producing foods like baked beans, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts so as not to aggravate the bloating you may experience after the surgery.

Eat more high fiber foods, but introduce them into your diet slowly. Oatmeal and wheat bread are excellent sources of fiber, but introducing them too quickly might cause problems like gas production. Adding them gradually into your diet allows your body to adapt to the fiber and begin digesting them as quickly as possible so that your stomach does not get bloated.

In regards to exercise, Yoga and other abdominal exercises help to strengthen the core muscles and tighten up the stomach. Try using several different exercises to hit a range of areas in the midsection. Here are a few recommended ones to try out:

For the traditional crunch, lay down on a mat, bend your knees and cross your arms in front of your chest. Slowly lift your shoulders towards the ceiling and crunch up using your abs. If crunches are not for you, schedule a daily walk to get some good cardio exercise in. A 45-60 minute walk every day helps to tone up your lower body and burn calories.

In addition, wearing a belly or compression wrap can help to get your stomach back to pre-hysterectomy shape. Girdles can help to reduce the appearance of flabbiness, as they contain lycra that provides extra abdominal support. A hysterectomy may make you seem overweight and flabby, but changes to your lifestyle can help to reduce body fat and flatten your stomach.

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24 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this information. I’m having a full hysterectomy in two weeks and I’m scared but ready to have the procedure. I had no idea that so much would be necessary in making a full recovery. Again, thank you so much for educating people such as myself who are facing this type of surgical procedure. Much appreciated!

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Sharon – It’s always important for females who have had a hysterectomy to always get the advice from their doctor before starting any type of fitness program, especially when it involves training the abdominal area directly.

  2. I had a total abdominal hysterectomy. It has been two years now, but my stomach is still flabby. I have to wear a girdle all the time now.

  3. I have always had a flat tummy and now I have a horrific pooch. I’m currently on a diet and I’m going to the gym. It’s really affecting my confidence and love life. I feel disgusting and I can’t bear my husband of 21 plus years to see me so embarrassed by my appearance now.

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Beth – Stay focused with your diet and workout regimen. It didn’t take you a few weeks to add size to your stomach, so it’s not going to be gone in a few weeks either. Try to focus on a 90 day target of seeing results and stick with your diet and exercise game plan.

  4. Broken hearted on

    I had mine in 2012, due to a cyst. I eat right follow all the “rules” and still have the pouch. My Dr. told me they have literally cut my stomach muscles in half. There is no amount of crunches that can be done to repair this! Believe me I’ve tried. Then in 2013 I contracted fibromyalgia and 4 other disorders. The only way to get rid of this is through additional costly procedures. Once the muscles are cut there is no way of strengthening them. I hated my pouch prior to this procedure, I worked out 3 times a week and had a flat stomach. Also, like me, many women are on additional medications that cause us to gain weight. I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just trying to shed a little light on the subject. I will be 47 years old in May of 2017 which is 5 years after the surgery and I still have the dreaded pouch!

    • Oh no, now I understand why the pouch is still there. I’m almost 2 years into my training and it hasn’t changed. I’m still doing weight training and eating healthy. I’ve also noted after doing certain exercises, like leg extensions, that my stomach is very sensitive and bloated. This is really depressing at times!

    • Thank you! I had surgery many years ago and the doctor told me he had to cut out my stomach muscle. I keep wondering why I am the slowest hiker and cyclist. Just recently I remembered my doctor telling me this. I am guessing that since my “core” muscle was cut, that it affects my strength and speed. Your post actually made me feel better. I would get depressed wondering why I am the slowest no matter how hard I try. I should be happy that at least I can hike and bike, but seriously, when everyone passes you by and you are always in last place all the time, it is depressing. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Paula A Kaiser on

    I would like to hear what “broken hearted” can do to help her situation with her pooch. I just turned 62 in March and I had a full stomach hysterectomy in 1987. I am 5’1″ weigh 115 pounds. With age, the pooch, at least mine, has gotten larger. I’m a tiny 62 year old woman who looks 6-8 months pregnant. I’ve wondered about surgery to fix it. Can they? Like most women, I’m embarrassed, humiliated and will not be completely naked in front of my husband. I’ve done girdles and Spanx. Summer dresses, form fitting clothes and swimsuits are out! It’s not just toning for us women, it is actually severed muscles!

    • Your situation sounds exactly like mine. I had my surgery many moons ago, and I have exercised and tried all I can to reduce my pooch. I hate it, as it jiggles in halves. It is embarrassing! I too want to know about any surgery that can repair the muscles there, or else plastic surgery might be the answer. Have you found anything out?

  6. Kathy Reilly on

    I also had an abdominal hysterectomy nine years ago and I exercise regularly. I would love to be thinner, but it’s important for the ladies out there to remember to embrace your bodies and love yourselves! Don’t be ashamed of something you may not be able to control. Trust me, your husbands or significant others love you regardless and would most definitely love to see you naked! So, take time to love yourself for who and what you are! Relax, life is short 🙂

    • Thanks for the positive encouragement. I’m having a full hysterectomy tomorrow and was wondering how my body would function afterwards.

  7. Thank you all for sharing your own experiences, I no longer feel alone! I had an abdominal hysterectomy 18 months ago. I’m 45 years old and have put on almost a stone and a half. I go to the gym regularly and try to eat well, but my metabolism has definitely slowed down a lot! I feel as though my shape has totally altered and has changed from an hourglass shape to a lumpy bubble. Think it’s time to fully embrace high waisted 50’s knickers!

  8. I love all of your stories! My total hysterectomy is coming up next month. All of my fears are gone and I’m happy to be part of such strong and healthy women. God bless you and your families 🙂

  9. The only advice I can give anyone about having an abdominal hysterectomy is make sure you fully research the pro’s and con’s before you decide it’s best for you. I had my procedure 15 months ago. Before the operation, I would say I had a once in a blue moon bad back. As soon as I was back on my feet after the operation I have had a bad back ever since. The doctors have said it’s a coincidence, but I think the cutting of the abdominal muscles has weakened my support of the spine. So, please be sure to only have the operation if it’s really the only option you have.

    • I’m 52 and I totally agree. Only have the procedure if it’s your only option. I had mine because of heavy periods and cyst. I have come to except the fact that I’m stuck with a flabby tummy and if he does not like it, then he (significant other) can hit the door.

      • I had my hysterectomy just this past Friday and everything turned out fine. Afterwards, my body seemed to cooperate with whatever is expected after a hysterectomy other than the pain and trying to find a comfortable position. I am okay but still have the “pooch”. It’s going to be a little depressing at first, but once you realize to focus on health before looks, you will eventually come to terms that you made the right decision in getting the hysterectomy. Peace, love and blessings to you! We are all beautiful woman 🙂

  10. I had a TAH surgery in 2015 (Total Abdominal Hysterectomy). I was a size 4 at a height of 5’7″. Not any more. Having the stomach muscles cut has absolutely given me a pooch. I had 25 staples up and down. The scar is okay, but it’s slightly indented. I had this surgery unexpectedly and it saved my life. It has been 3 years since the surgery. My tummy will never be flat again, and I’m okay with that (sometimes). Be kind to yourselves. Best wishes!

    • I’m due to have a hysterectomy in 5 weeks and I’ve always prided myself in having a flat stomach. My core is the best part so after reading all this, I’m dreading it! I don’t know until I go under whether it will be keyhole or not. Has anyone found they have regained their stomach shape after the surgery? I’m getting so depressed about it! I have put it off for 12 months but have pre-cancer cells, so I’ve been told I must have it. Any support would be greatly appreciated! Thanks and good luck to everyone else 🙂

  11. Jeannette Thompson on

    It’s been over 30 years since my hysterectomy. I still have a flabby tummy despite exercising. Glad I now know the reason for it. I suffer from fibromyalgia along with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Nothing seems to work, so I just have to put up with it.

  12. I’m 5 months into this recovery and I have good days and bad ones. A quick 30-minute workout gives me energy and keeps the bloating down. If I take a week off, I feel sick, bloated, warm and nauseous, which sucks. My eating habits are changing with nothing carbonated and gassy. Those foods hurt my belly. I might have a tummy tuck in the near future. Hopefully, I will shed 20 pounds, but right now I can’t seem to lose anything. Do you think a Keto diet will work? Can anyone suggest how to drop weight after this surgery? I’m struggling.

  13. I had a hysterectomy with oophorectomy 2 weeks ago. I only have 1 ovary left, the rest is gone. I still have a flabby paunch, looks like I’m a few months preggers and it’s upsetting. yes! I’ve heard that a few people have lost weight after, however, not me. I’ve had 4 pregnancies and 3 c-sections and I had the same issues after. After 4 weeks of the c-sections, I used tummy wraps which helped to pull my tummy in a bit, waiting for 2 more weeks until my tummy did not feel sore anymore to try that again. My darlings, I have realized that our bodies go through quite a beating afterwards, the bowels are also affected, with constipation and cramping. However, everyone I have met that has had one says the quality of life has really improved. We all obviously needed to have it done for very good reason, so let’s look forward to pain free, heavy period free days.. all the best with recovery 🙂

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