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Can I tighten my abdominal muscles after a hernia repair?

Q: I am 29 year old and was quite skinny and thin with tight and toned abdominal muscles before I delivered a baby. Six months after delivery, my stomach looked abnormal so I saw a doctor who said I had a hernia. I got it repaired 7 weeks ago but still I feel my muscles are abnormal. When I lie down to the side, they fall in that direction and if I am on my back they sink in and my skin just floats. I am so depressed about it and don't see it ever getting back to the way it used to be and hence there is no determination to exercise. I want to know if these will ever go back to shape? I also have a separation in the abdominal area that still has not gone back completely. My belly button too is not normal; it never went back in. I thought after surgery it would, but it didn't. My doctor didn't use a mesh only because she got the impression I was going to get a tummy tuck in the future, which is out of the question for me. She’s the one who suggested I get that done because it is the only way my stomach could look normal again. I want to believe that what she said is incorrect that there is hope with time and proper exercise but I need another opinion. Please help?

A:I am sorry you are in such a predicament. Especially since you were so fit before. But without wanting to sound like a sermon, life has many turns that are not always in our control. It is unfortunate that your skin around your stomach is loose, but that does not mean you can not work to achieve a situation close to what you had. And think of what could have been worse than NOT detecting and operating on your hernia. Get into a routine of good exercise and nutritional practices, do what you have to do to get yourself back to shape and then sit back and smile at your achievements. The protruding belly button may feel and look ugly but there is much in life to look forward to and do, that will give you pleasure and pride.

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