The Surgeon Minute

Abdominoplasty and the Mommy Makeover

Abdominoplasty and the Mommy Makeover

How a woman’s body changes during pregnancy is a pretty amazing feat of nature. The skin and muscles in the torso stretch and grow to accommodate what is oftentimes 10 pounds of baby or more. Unfortunately, that stretched skin and muscle does not always shrink back – especially if a mother undergoes multiple births. Instead, the skin tends to droop and sag while the muscles are loose, making mothers feel dumpy, dowdy and self-conscious.

A mommy makeover is a procedure that restores a woman’s body to its pre-pregnancy state, or better. It isn’t a one-stop shop – every mommy makeover is a collection of procedures that patients may or may not need, depending on their unique situation. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Theo Nyame of Charlotte discusses the specific components of a mommy makeover, particularly the benefits of an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck.

What is a Mommy Makeover?

A mommy makeover is an umbrella term for a set of procedures that’s meant to undo the natural changes that happen with childbirth. “Kids are a wonderful gift,” explains Dr. Nyame, but some of the changes that they incur on the body – such as sagging breasts and a poochy stomach – “are often not gifts.” A mommy makeover will usually involve some type of breast procedure. The right one will really depend on your anatomy, needs and goals, but it may include a breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction or a combination.

Mommy makeover precursor.

It will also almost always include a tummy tuck to rejuvenate the stomach, either with or without liposuction of the outer thighs or flanks. The ultimate goal of any good mommy makeover is to restore proportion and balance to your entire torso since the breasts, stomach and thighs all work together. An abdominoplasty is often misunderstood to be a weight loss procedure, but the truth is far more important.

What Causes the “Pooch”?

Mommy makeover patients may all have different breast concerns, but there is one stomach concern that is very common— the pooch. It’s that sagging roll of excess skin and fat that rests beneath your belly button and above your pubic line. What causes the pooch? When patients come in to discuss a mommy makeover, Dr. Nyame typically sees three specific changes in the abdominal area:

  • the muscles in the stomach have splayed apart during pregnancy
  • the amount of fat in the body has thickened over time
  • there is an excess amount of loose skin

A tummy tuck specifically addresses these changes, which are typically resistant to diet and exercise. An abdominoplasty is working to correct the abdominal muscles and excise loose skin, not impart major fat reduction.

A Tummy Tuck Procedure

A tummy tuck is the ideal procedure for moms because it removes the stretched skin and muscle in the abdominal area, as well as the fat. During this procedure, Dr. Nyame places an incision very low on the abdomen where it can easily be hidden by even the skimpiest underwear or bathing suit. The incision is necessary to expose the muscles that have become permanently splayed apart. He repairs these muscles by stitching them back together – something that a million crunches and diet will never accomplish – in order to restore the abdominal strength. Once the muscles are repaired, any excess skin and fat are removed. “It’s one of the procedures that is most gratifying for a lot of patients,” Nyame explains.

Mommy makeover before and after.

Don’t Stress the Scar

Many patients who are considering a mommy makeover express concern about the scars, notably the large tummy tuck scars. The truth is, scars are necessary anytime major change occurs. It is also true that scars heal very well, and plastic surgeons are the best physicians for dealing with them. It’s part of their job to minimize scars with precise surgical techniques and post-operative scar treatments.

However, most patients are so excited about the significant improvement in body contour that occurs with their tummy tuck that any scar is completely worth it. For example, in a typical tummy tuck, all of the skin from the lower abdomen to the belly button can be removed. This skin often includes stretch marks which are really hard to treat. Bottom line, the stomach that “has been damaged over 9 months of pregnancy can basically be erased overnight,” shares Nyame.

Tummy tuck - mommy makeover.

Who is a Good Candidate for Mommy Makeover?

Any woman who is unhappy with the look of her breasts and stomach is a good candidate for a mommy makeover. You do not have to actually be a mother either! Age, hormones and genetics can also wreak havoc on a woman’s torso. For any surgery, a patient must be in good overall health, not smoke, and, ideally, be at a good weight. For tummy tuck patients in particular, it is ideal to wait to have the procedure until you are completely done having children. The reason for this is that any subsequent pregnancy after your abdominoplasty will possibly re-stretch your repaired muscle thus insuring another tummy tuck in your future. And no one wants more surgery than needed.

In terms of the breasts, it is perfectly acceptable to have a breast augmentation and then have more children. However, if you require a breast lift, it is again best to wait until after all of your kids are born. As with the stomach, pregnancy will re-stretch the repaired skin on your breasts, possibly adversely affecting your results. “As a new Dad, I truly enjoy working with moms” says Nyame. He shares that he loves helping women achieve the body that they deserve.

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