Body contouring procedures are on the rise. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there has been an almost 4,000% increase in lower body lifts over the last 15 years. In many ways, moms were the first ones to jump on the body contouring wagon, quickly realizing that pregnancy didn’t just take a toll on the tummy, but the breasts as well. Plastic surgeons began to market a combination of body procedures under the moniker, “Mommy Makeover” to address just this group.
There are many patients – not just moms – who have issues with more than one area on their body. This is why board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Craig Colville of Toledo prefers the term the Body Plan. Here he discusses the pros and cons of combining body contouring procedures as well as the importance of having realistic recovery expectations.
What is The Body Plan?
Most of us have probably heard the phrase, “A Mommy Makeover.” It has been used by plastic surgeons for years to describe a combination of procedures, typically a tummy tuck and a breast lift and/or breast augmentation. “But the real issue is that body makeovers or body surgery or body contouring is not just for mommies. It’s for anybody that has body complaints,” says Dr. Colville.
The good news about the ubiquitousness of the term “Mommy Makeover” is that it has made patients aware that their body unhappiness typically involves more than one area of concern. The downside is that this term doesn’t feel right for male patients or women who aren’t moms. This is why Dr. Colville calls any combination of body contouring procedures the Body Plan. It may include 2 or more of the following:
- a tummy tuck
- a breast augmentation
- an arm lift
- a thigh lift
- a buttock augmentation
- a breast lift
- fat grafting
Advantages of Multi-Procedure Body Contouring
“In today’s world, everybody wants everything and they want great results and they want no downtime and no inconvenience and no incision and no scars and no discomfort and no pain,” explains Dr. Colville. Obviously, all of this isn’t possible, but combining procedures allows patients to get more bang for their buck by addressing multiple problem areas at once with only one recovery.
Men are also great candidates for combined body contouring procedures. Like women, they may come in with one question, but what Dr. Colville wants them to understand is that, “the body is 3 dimensional. It’s circumferential. It’s 360 degrees.” In order to get the best result, the body needs to be addressed as a whole.
“I think it’s important to tailor it to the person. You can’t do the procedure or the same four operations on everyone,” says Colville. Patients are not just different genders, they have different anatomies. Some have thicker bodies while others have thinner bodies. Some may have a medical condition or prior surgery that affects their plan while others are older. Dr. Colville recently had a patient who was older so he, “tailored the procedure back a bit and didn’t tighten her muscle wall, which would have really increased her recovery without giving her much more result.” The great thing about the body contouring is that it is customized to each individual’s anatomy and needs.
When is Enough, Enough?
Part of body contouring surgery is knowing when to say, “enough is enough”. Most patients want a number of procedures. While some of these are easy to perform together, such as the breasts and the tummy, others need to be performed on their own or combined with another procedure at a different time. Part of the plan then is working with the patient on scheduling the procedures.
Dr. Colville tells his patient that he, “can do more surgery than they can handle. I can sit there and operate for 12 hours but that’s a really difficult recovery and it could be more dangerous. So, the whole point of this is to have results, but to have completely safe and reproducible results with no problems.”
While most patients understand this, some don’t. In the latter case, Colville may decide not to operate. It’s a symbiotic relationship between patient and surgeon. If a patient wants to go ahead with a plan that isn’t safe or isn’t going to produce the kind of results that they desire, then it’s absolutely appropriate for a surgeon to turn them down.
And yes, it can be hard to say no. “With time and perspective, it gets easier to say no,” shares Colville. “Because in the world we live in, people think everything’s possible. And it almost is, but at what risk?”
Importance of Managing Recovery Expectations
Part of the surgeon’s job when it comes to managing risk is managing patient expectations, particularly in terms of their recovery. “We need to talk about how it’s going to be after surgery and how comfortable they’re going to be. And whether they need help. And whether they can pick up their 2 year old,” says Dr. Colville. Everyone always wants to know, ‘Well, how long is the recovery?’ The real question is, recovery to do what? If you are asking about walking around the house that might only take a couple of hours, but if you are talking about planting trees that’s a different story.
The surgical procedure path starts and ends with conversation with your surgeon. It may seem that all that matters is the surgery itself, but the consulting, planning, and advising post-procedure are equally as important. The body contouring plan isn’t just a collection of surgical procedures, but a journey patients walk hand-in-hand with expert surgeons to minimize down time and maximize results.