Having children is a wonderful experience, but motherhood can produce some significant changes to a woman’s body. While some mothers consider these changes to be a “badge of honor,” many women are unhappy with their post-pregnancy body, which may include sagging breasts, loose abdominal skin and stretch marks, a thicker waist and stubborn fat deposits. Women who have had one or more children may wish to return their body to pre-pregnancy glory with a combination of plastic surgery procedures, known as a mommy makeover. Mommy makeovers can also be done for women who have lost a significant amount of weight and have similar body issues. Let’s look at the surgical options that may be included in a mommy makeover.
When a woman is pregnant, the abdominal skin and the muscles must “stretch” to accommodate the protruding belly. Loose skin, stretch marks and weak stomach muscles are often the result, and while some women can bounce right back, in most cases, these conditions won’t go away. Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, can remove excess skin and fat, tighten and restore the abdominal muscles and move the navel or belly button back to a “normal” position.
Breast augmentation and/or lift
Similar to the abdomen, pregnancy commonly causes breast enlargement. When the pregnancy is over, the breasts are no longer “perky.” Once pregnancy and lactation conclude, the breasts lose volume and may sag. Some women also have stretched areolas, uneven breasts or breasts that have become much larger. As part of a complete mommy makeover, “breast enhancement with a breast lift” may be done to return a youthful shape to the breasts. This is often called a “breast augmentation/mastopexy.” It involves a breast lift to remove excess skin and reposition the areola, but may also include an augmentation with a saline or silicone implant to increase or restore upper breast fullness with the breast lift. A breast reduction may be performed at the same time for women whose breasts remain too large after pregnancy.
The post-pregnancy body may result in a thicker waist or stubborn fat deposits in the hips and thighs. Liposuction removes this fat and can improve the contour of the abdomen, hips and thighs. Liposuction can also be performed in the upper arms, knees and neck or anywhere that fat appears out of place. It should be used as a “contouring” procedure and does not take the place of weight loss.
A mommy makeover can be a combination of two or more of these procedures performed at the same time. The most important aspect of a mommy makeover is that it can be done safely by a board-certified plastic surgeon with true expertise in these procedures. It is also important that these procedures are done in an accredited operating facility with an anesthesiologist providing care during and after the procedure. A nursing facility should be close by to allow for supervised recovery for at least 24 hours postoperatively, for monitoring and to ensure safety. The total surgical time should be no more than five hours and in some cases, two stages will be required, spaced over 3-6 months apart to allow for maximal wound healing and recovery.
These procedures may also be done when significant weight loss has occurred. Before getting any surgeries, the body must have recovered completely from childbearing and nursing and the patient should be within a few pounds of ideal body weight. This may require changes to the diet or physical activity level; the healthier the body, the more successful recovery will be. A new pregnancy will often “undo” the effects of the surgery and women are often advised to complete all pregnancies before considering any of the mommy makeover procedures.