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Finding the Key to a Tiny Waist: Waist Trainers vs. Tummy Tucks

Deciding whether or not to undergo a tummy tuck can be a major decision for both men and women. And let’s face it: Plastic surgery can cause anxiety for some patients, who then look for alternatives to cosmetically improve their midsection. In recent years, thanks to Kim Kardashian and other celebs who use waist trainers (see more here!), waist trainers have received more attention and approval than ever before.

However, recent controversy surrounding MTV’s Teen Mom 2 star Kailyn Lowry has reinvigorated the longtime semi-antagonism between waist training and plastic surgery. After getting a Brazilian butt lift, liposuction, and a tummy tuck, the 23-year old posted an Instagram photo advertising a corset used for waist training, including a link to buy the trainer and a discount code. Since, the photos have been removed due to an overwhelmingly massive backlash from Instagrammers: “But I watched you get a tummy tuck soo I don’t think waist training is your secret,” someone replied, referencing Dr. Miami’s Snapchat story which included actual video footage of Kaily’s procedures. Instead of being honest about her journey to a small waist, Lowry attempted to convert her dream bod into a profitable vehicle to bring in a little cash, and viewers felt the dishonesty immediately.

Indeed, Lowry’s timing wasn’t great. However, the issue brings up larger questions of whether or not waist trainers really do work, whether both can be used to achieve a dream tummy, and what the secret to a tiny waist can or could be. Is plastic surgery the only answer, and is it right for everyone? In a way, humans have been asking this same question for hundreds of years. Today, though, when we have advanced technology like plastic surgery, patients must decide which direction to head.

Why We Waist Train

As Atlanta plastic surgeon Dr. Dzifa Kpodzo explains, attempting to “train” the muscles in our waist to slim down is nothing new: “It hearkens back to at least the 1500s, when corsets first came in vogue, and maybe even further back in Asian and African traditions of pre-natal and post-natal belly binding.” There’s two types of waist training, exercise waist training and regular waist training, both of which include a variety of corset-like products meant to train the waist to be smaller.

There’s some pros and some cons to waist training. As Kpodzo notes, true waist training must be continued on a daily basis to maintain results, often requiring four hours of corseting per day, seven days each week. The constant pressure displaces internal organs into your abdomen, and since the ribs have some level of bendability, they may begin to angle downward and remodel the bone and cartilage. It’s true, certainly, that wearing these corsets for extended periods of time could certainly help achieve an hourglass figure (depending on your body type) without surgical repercussions.

In addition, waist training can have other, less aesthetic benefits. Brad Thomas, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and founding partner of Beach Cities Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, notes that “one benefit that may be overlooked about waist trainers and wraps are their ability to help an individual activate their abdominal core muscles and inspire good posture,” he says. “Possibly, if they are worn a bit loose as to not completely smash the waist but still pull in one’s tummy, the trainers could have a lasting benefit.”

On the other hand, waist training is not a permanent fix. While they may help you achieve a tiny waist or better posture, there’s no point in time in which you can remove the waist trainer and enjoy a perfectly small, tiny waist. However, some patients with protruding abdominal areas and little fat outside the abdominal wall (which makes them poor candidates for abdominoplasties) might consider waist training to supplement their diet and exercise after discussing their unique condition with a plastic surgeon.

Tummy Tucks: A Permanent Solution

One of the main benefits of your tummy tuck will be the lasting benefits:: You won’t need to strap on a corset each and every day, and you’ll be able to solve some problems that no amount of diet, exercise, or waist training can correct. For example, tummy tuck specialists Minneapolis Plastic Surgery notes that “if you have loose, wrinkled, or sagging abdominal skin, no amount of exercise will restore the lost elasticity and collagen content in that stretched skin. The same goes for the stretched abdominal wall fascia- sit ups and crunches can gives you abs of steel, but they will still be separated from each other by the stretched fascia that gives you an abdominal pouch.”

You guessed it: This area is where abdominoplasty is the only answer. Often, the abdominoplasty will be paired with liposuction if there’s areas like muffin tops or love handles that you just can’t get rid of. These are permanent solutions to your problem.

On the other hand, when you walk out of that surgery room, a tummy tuck isn’t a free pass to gain weight. Keeping up your toning, healthy diet, and exercise will be crucial to maintain the results of the procedure and enjoy the body you’ve always wanted.

Is waist training an alternative to a tummy tuck? Only if you don’t have any problems with wrinkled or loose skin, no excess fat that you want permanently removed via liposuction, and you’re comfortable wearing a corset for up to 23 hours each week. On the other hand, if you’re interested in permanent benefits, the surgical procedure may be a better fit for you. Whichever you choose, make sure to steer clear of mistakes like Lowry’s, and don’t attribute results from one procedure to the work of something else, like a waist trainer.

If you have further questions about opportunities to achieve the midsection you’ve always wanted, leave a comment in the section below, anytime!

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