How to get those abs: Surgery or hard work?

editorial image

There is one thing about Jessica Ennis that induces more awe than her sporting prowess...her abs.

The poster girl of the Olympics has not only inspired with her gold medal, but seems she has also inspired with her ripped set of abdominal muscles, with several national publications claiming that cosmetic abdominal surgery requests have soared since London 2012.

But how easy is it to improve your middle area?

We looked at some of the ways you can, if not emulate Ennis’s abs, at least work at improving the dreaded stomach area.


Ennis is a multi-talented athlete, but she also works very hard, and most experts will agree if you really want a stomach you are proud to show off, you will have to work for it.

Craig Merry, a personal trainer at Nuffield Health Centre in Sixfields, Northampton, gave the following advice on improving your mid-section.

“Where you start with your exercises, depends on where the individual is starting from, and their background and history,” said Craig.

“Abdominal work is important but it’s not just down to working on this area.

“If you have excess body fat you need to get rid of that first, and that needs to be done with cardio work.

“Exercise and changes to diet are important for reducing fat. It is all very well going to the gym but if you don’t change your diet you may not see the results. It is important to eat a healthy balanced diet.”

Once you have worked on shifting that fat Craig says there are specific excerises that can help with your abs.

“You can do work on the abdomen and to strengthen your obliques,” said Craig.

“The plank is a good one, as is the side plank, or doing abdominal crunches, but there are millions of exercises out there you can do improve these muscles.

“We do run a class which is specifically to work on the midsection and abdomen.

“Improving this area of the body is one of the most common requests we get.”

To find out more about this class visit:


“ONE of the main reasons that women have surgery on the abdominal area relates to the effects of pregnancy or childbirth,” says Adrian Richards, consultant plastic surgeon and clinical director of Aurora Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Northampton.

Although exercise can help with many things, not least our health, scaring and muscle damage caused in childbirth is something, Adrian says, can be difficult to repair on your own.

The two main surgical operations offered at the clinic are the Tummy Tuck (also known as an Abdominoplasty procedure) normally performed on people who have had babies or lost weight, which aims to remove the excess skin from the lower part of the abdomen, and Liposuction.

Liposuction, is a surgical procedure used for removing fat deposits from the body, typically from the abdomen and thighs.

“The two main problems are the muscles and the skin,” said Adrian.

“When you have babies, particularly big babies, the skin can stretch quite a lot, particularly if people put a lot of weight on when they are pregnant.

“For some people that skin recovers well but for some people the skin doesn’t retract well or at all.

“Also, after caesareans there can be scar tissue and the underlying muscles and skin can hang over like a lip, that’s another problem.

“Scar revision surgery is about removing the scar and stretching it up so it’s flat.”

Adrian says the type of Tummy Tuck best suited to you depends on the appearance of your abdomen. Mini Tummy Tuck is suitable if you have minimum excess of skin below the tummy button. Full Tummy Tuck is most often used if you have more excess skin between the tummy button and your pubic skin region.

In both the muscles in the tummy are repaired.

“These muscles are called the rectus-abdominis muscles which in Latin means the “straight” muscles,” said Adrian.

“Normally located at the front of your tummy, these muscles give the “six-pack” appearance in people with minimal fat deposits in their tummy area.

“After pregnancy or weight-loss, these muscles are stretched apart and may not go back fully together, especially if the woman has had twins.

“The only way to recover this is to sew the muscles back together.”

However, surgery is not an answer to obesity.

“Like any operation you need to be quite fit and healthy before you have it, with a body mass index below 30. It’s not a solution for someone who is overweight,” said Adrian.

And it is not just women that opt for abdominal surgery.

“Women and men are quite different. The problem with men is when they put weight on they tend to get a beer belly, and whereas women can pinch the skin, men put weight on inside the tummy cavity.

“Men can have a tummy tuck only if they have loose skin, due to losing weight or having a gastric band.

“Everyone has bumps on their stomach like we see on athletes but you can only see them when you have low body fat.

“There is something called Vaser high-def, it’s not a treatment we do, but it etches out the muscles on the tummy.

“It is quite extensive surgery and takes about five hours to do.”

Sarah Staples, cosmetic nurse at Woodland Hospital in Kettering, which also offers procedures in Abdominoplasty and liposcution, also highlighted the importance of lifestyle changes.

“With both admonminplasty and liposuction you do need to make life-style changes to keep weight down a lot of people will come back and say they have a problem and they basically put weight on.

“The operations won’t stop you putting on weight.”

For further information about Aurora Cosmetic Surgery Clinic visit:

For more information about Woodland Hospital visit:


FOR those struggling to shift problem areas of fat but nervous about going under the knife, Bryn Lewis says there is an alternative.

Bryn and his wife Ann run the new Mind & Body Clinic, in Thornby, which offers a Laser Lipo Clinic.

“This works with a red laser, which breaks the hard fat cells which the body stores causing the contents to spill out in to vacant places beneath the skin, also known as energy,” said Bryn.

“After the treatment. You then have 24 hours to burn off this energy and get rid of the fat before it can reform back to hard fat.

“In general after each treatment the more active you are the better the results as you are constantly burning of the energy that has come from the treatment.

“You have eight treatments and there is no surgery, no needles, no bruises, no recovery time and it only takes 45 minutes to an hour.

“You do have to watch your calory intake to reduce your weight, but it is really good if there is an area of fat you just can’t get rid of, say you have had a baby or you moobs you really can’t shift.

“We don’t offer this treatment to people who are obese and people do need to make life-style changes. People will have to fill in a full medical questionnaire before we treat them. We do make everyone come for a trial first.”

For further information visit: