Fix, Fight, or Cover Up? How to Handle the Muffin Top

A one-two-three punch to help patients get rid of the troublesome muffin top for good.

Over my years as a plastic surgeon, I have heard some interesting terms to describe a woman’s anatomy. Unfortunately, using colorful metaphors like bat wings, saddlebags, and cankles has not made fixing those problem areas any easier.

For this article, I have teamed up with nutritionist Brooke Alpert and expert fashion stylist Jacqui Stafford to tackle one of our patients’ most popular problem zones: the dreaded muffin top.

Also known as love handles, the muffin top is the section around the abdomen and sides that have too much fat under the skin and tend to bulge out between the button of your pants and breasts. I often see patients who have a well-proportioned diet and exercise regimen, but still cannot tone or smooth this particular problem area. To help patients get rid of this troublesome section for good, we are giving the muffin top a one-two-three punch.

Hide It

Jacqui Stafford tells her clientele to look for longer, A-line style tanks, tunics, or tees that skim the torso, rather than hug it. The length of the top should rest at just the top of the thigh and help conceal a less-than-perfect belly. Stafford also advises experimenting with clever pleating, draping, and shirred fabrics that can blur a heavy midsection.

To help smooth over the tummy, Stafford suggests a high-rise pant with a waistband that sits right on the natural waistline. A pant that extends 9 inches from the crotch to the waistband is generally the most flattering.

Fight It

Brooke Alpert teaches her patients that not all fats are created equal, as she notes trans fats inflate the muffin top, while other fats can help decrease it. When consumed in moderation, monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados, peanut butter, dark chocolate , and omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts can effectively slim down the muffin top. However, diet is only half of the battle, so exercising is also essential.

Fix It

Liposuction, which I perform on an outpatient basis, is the sure-fire surgical way to shed the muffin top. During a liposuction procedure, the excess fat in the patient’s upper abdomen is treated either mechanically or internally with a light source or laser that reduces the number of fat cells. These extra fat cells are destroyed when the targeted fat is manipulated and then vacuumed out. The nerves and blood vessels that supply the skin with nutrients are left unharmed, thus allowing for a full recovery of the treated area. Since liposuction removes a good number of the fat cells from the upper abdomen, the muffin top will not return.

About the Author

Robert T. Grant, MD, MSc, FACS, is Chief of the combined Divisions of Plastic Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is also Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and Adjunct Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. For more information about Dr. Grant or to contact him, visit his website at www.robertgrantmd.com.

About the Partners

Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN, is a nutritionist to the stars and founder of B Nutritious.

Jacqui Stafford lends her style expertise to national TV programs like “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “The Tyra Banks Show,” “The View,” and “20/20” and makes regular appearances on Extra, VH1, E! Entertainment Television, Entertainment Tonight, and CNN.