Dr. Clifford Clark has a special greeting for post-pregnancy mom’s considering a potential mommy makeover at his plastic surgery practice in Florida: “Congratulations! You’ve donated your body to your family!”
Most women who have first-hand experience with their own personal before and after baby-bodies identify with that sentiment. It’s difficult for some to even remember how clothes used to fit and what their waist and tummy looked like before having children.
Never fear, there is a fix.
The Post-Pregnancy Tummy Remedy
No two women are alike and that is why Dr. Clark and other board certified plastic surgeons call diagnosis the “key” element of the consultation. “Often things change over time on a woman’s body,” says Clark. “First, we talk about the trunk and I assess it all the way around.” This 360 degree evaluation usually finds a combination of fat, extra skin, loose muscles, and scars.“Different proportions of these are presented depending upon the individual.”
Those who escape pregnancy relatively unscathed might only need liposuction and perhaps a scar revision from a C-section. However, if there is evidence of rolls or tummy bulge from muscle separation, loose skin, and even vicious stretch marks, a surgical plan will be developed to address all these components with a tummy tuck.
“The beauty is in the details,” says Clark. There are various styles of tummy tucks (dependent on what needs to be addressed), but regardless of the technique, an experienced surgeon is meticulous about scar placement being low enough to be imperceptible even when wearing a bikini. Creating a beautiful belly button can also be the difference between a good and great result.
Often during a tummy tuck, the diastasis recti muscles are tightened with permanent internal sutures which flattens the tummy from the inside, similar to an internal girdle. After tightening the layers of the abdominal wall, liposuction can be used to refine the result. Skin and tissue are pulled down and excess skin is removed. “You really need to address fullness and fat in other areas and concurrent lipo is very helpful on those places to really deliver a lovely contour,” explains Clark.
Regardless of the plan, safety should always be the #1 concern. “Patients who have serious complications are usually the victims of a perfect storm of someone not paying attention,” says Clark. He emphasizes choosing a board certified plastic surgeon with vast experience in the procedure. He also is careful to only perform tummy tucks on patients who are healthy, meaning those not suffering from any significant or problematic and/or systemic diseases.
Don’t Underestimate Recovery
According to Dr. Clark, it’s important to not underestimate recovery time; he compares the downtime of a tummy tuck with recovering from a C-section or hysterectomy. Patients are typically kept overnight for their comfort and safety, as well as increasing the likelihood of a swift and smooth recovery. “We keep them hydrated, have massage boots on their legs to increase circulation and guard against blood clots, and then gradually get the patient moving,” he describes. “We also make sure pain control is meticulous because if you don’t let pain start then you don’t have to worry about catching up with it.”
Clark counsels his patients to make plans well ahead of time for help at home with the kiddos for the first week post-op, since it takes about a week until energy returns for daily activities. His patients usually go back to work in 2 weeks, and begin light workouts at about 6 weeks.
The best time to consider a tummy tuck is after your family is complete. “While you certainly can do liposuction and subsequently have more children, an abdominoplasty result can be distorted with further pregnancies,” he explains. “Waiting until after you’ve done all that wear and tear on your body might be the perfect timing,” says Clark.
Pregnancy can significantly change a woman’s life for the better, and her body for the worse. The beauty of a post-pregnancy tune-up is not only in the final results. By boosting self-esteem and enhancing femininity, patients find that they look and feel better regaining newfound confidence in their appearance
Dr. Clark contends the moms who opt for a tummy tuck are some of his happiest patients. “It’s amazing to witness the complete joy they feel when they get their body back,” he shares. “Many didn’t think it was possible. To be attractive again…is beyond words.”