It comes as no surprise to anyone that pregnancy and childbirth change a woman’s body. The weight gain and weight loss associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding frequently leave the skin of the abdomen stretched out, and even the breasts deflated or drooping. Below the surface, abdominal muscles are often stretched out of position during pregnancy, making a tight flat stomach a thing of the past.
The marks of pregnancy on a woman’s body don’t have to be permanent, assures board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Lee Thornton. To solve these issues, and usually all together, plastic surgeons employ a mommy makeover. While the actual procedures a mommy makeover is composed of will vary from patient to patient, they usually include some type of surgical procedure to address the changes in both the breasts and the belly.
Restoring Shape to the Breasts
Breastfeeding leaves some women feeling flat and deflated in their chest. Other mothers find the opposite happens after giving birth. Their breasts grow larger, heavier and sag post-baby. Whether your desire is to fill out or lift your post-pregnancy breasts, rest assured, there is a surgical procedure available to accomplish your goals.
When the primary concern is volume loss in the breasts, an augmentation with an implant may be the best option. Sagging and drooping, on the other hand, is usually addressed with a surgical breast lift. It’s not uncommon for both sagging and deflation to go hand-in-hand, points out Thornton. In those cases, an augmentation with a lift can restore an attractive, youthful contour to the breasts.
Surgical Breast Options:
- Breast Lift
- Breast Lift with Implant
Repairing the Post-Baby Belly
Many women find the added pounds around the midsection that accompany pregnancy nearly impossible to shed completely. Even when a woman successfully returns to her pre-baby weight, the shape of her abdomen is often very different after pregnancy than before.
“When we’re looking at the abdomen, we really have to address three things,” points out Thornton. “That’s excess skin, fat and musculature. If they have musculature problems or they have a lot of excess skin, then most of the time that’s going to require a tummy tuck.”
Abdominal Procedures Address:
- Excess Skin
“If it’s just fat in the abdomen that is the problem,” adds Thornton, “We have a lot of ways of removing fat, from non-invasive CoolSculpting to liposuction and more.”
When the problem is more than fat, a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty may be necessary. During a tummy tuck, Dr. Thornton removes excess skin, excess fat and surgically tightens the abdominal muscles. “Abdominoplasty, is probably one of the most powerful aesthetic procedures that we have,” says Thornton.
Mini vs. Full Tummy Tuck
Whether a woman needs a full tummy tuck or a mini tummy tuck is determined by the location of her excess skin and muscle laxity, explains Thornton. A full tummy tuck allows a surgeon to address muscle laxity and excess skin from as low as the pubic hairline, all the way up to just below the breasts. A mini tummy tuck, on the other hand, will only address muscle laxity and excess skin from the pubic hairline up to the height of the belly button.
“You do find some candidates for mini tummy tuck, if they only have some muscle laxity below the umbilicus and excess skin in that area,” says Thornton. “But really, in most patients, full tummy tuck is the procedure of choice that works the best.”
The Bigger Picture
The breasts and the abdomen are not the only areas of a woman’s body that change with age and childbearing. While it’s true that mommy makeover is a generic term that addresses the breast and the abdomen in general, Dr. Thornton warns patients to also consider the rest of the body as part of a bigger picture.
Many patients come in focused on their breasts and belly, and overlook the fact that as they’ve aged they have also put on a little more weight in their hips and thighs. To avoid drawing attention to these areas after a mommy makeover, it’s important to consider addressing areas adjacent to the breast and belly with liposuction at the same time as the mommy makeover.
“If you’re evaluating the patient correctly, you really do have to do a full evaluation,” emphasizes Thornton. “You may create disturbances by not treating the patient as a whole.”