The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has revealed a surprising new statistic: 62% of mothers are interested in learning more about plastic surgery to get back their pre-baby body. While financial considerations keep some from actually scheduling the surgery, it’s clear the majority of moms feel driven to improve their appearance post-pregnancy. Theresa from San Diego poses the question: “I have a couple of children and I am seeing a lot of changes in my stomach and in my breasts. What can I do about that?”
Dr. Brian Brzowski of Ogden, Utah hears an echo of this question on a daily basis in his practice. “It’s what is commonly known as a ‘mommy makeover,” says Brzowski, “Theresa is describing are problems typically occurring after pregnancy or weight loss.” The term ‘mommy makeover’ is shorthand for a combination of procedures that address both breasts and abdomen.
The Top Half
Often after pregnancy and breastfeeding, breasts lose their shape and fullness. Tissues break down and create various degrees of ptosis–or sag. Many describe their breasts as “deflated.” The remedy depends upon the woman’s desire and her physical presentation. Sagging breasts can be lifted. If volume is the objective a breast augmentation with implant would recommended. Sometimes a breast lift/augmentation is combined to give the patient the best shape, size and youthful position.
The Bottom Half
The second part of a mommy makeover is a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty,) often accompanied by liposuction. Dr. Cliff Clark from Orlando, Florida explains there are two versions of a tummy tuck–a mini tummy tuck and a full tummy tuck. The method depends on a woman’s anatomy. “From the tummy aspect…liposuction alone is rare after children. A mini tummy tuck is (confined to) below the belly button. A full tummy tuck…is a significant difference in magnitude of procedure.”
In a full tummy tuck there is an incision across the lower abdomen and one around the belly button. Excess skin is removed from above the belly button down to the pubic area. Stitches are placed to rejoin the muscles that have separated internally creating a virtual girdle. A tighter, flatter stomach is the result. In a mini tummy tuck more limited tightening is done and there is only one incision below the belly button at the bikini line. In either case, liposuction may be used to further contour the area.
Who’s a Good Candidate
Dr. Clark cautions that the type of tummy tuck might determine whether a combination procedure (breast/tummy) is done or if they should be done separately. As board certified plastic surgeons, patient safety and comfort are crucial elements. Dr. Brzowski agrees. “There are risks when you add procedures together. Time under anesthesia, blood loss, infection…and we have to calculate and take these into consideration when advising patients.”
The best candidates for a mommy makeover are those who are not planning any future pregnancies, are close to their ideal weight, and in good overall health. It is also imperative that patients arrange for 10 days to two weeks recovery time which translates into help with the children and/or time off work. Most post-operative patients report one regret: not having done it sooner. Dr. Brzowski sums it up this way: “…restoring and regaining the body that they had before pregnancy….this is just a happy group of ladies.”