If you’ve heard of a mommy makeover but aren’t sure what, exactly, the popular surgery for women entails, you’re not alone. It’s a question board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mark D. Epstein hears on a regular basis.
“A mommy makeover really, is whatever you want it to be,” is his response. “It’s where you say, ‘Okay, I want to get my pre-pregnancy body back,’ or, ‘my pre-pregnancy face back,’ or, ‘my pre-pregnancy whatever back’ and that’s what the mommy makeover is.”
While some women do not experience major changes in their body after pregnancy, the bottom line is, most women do. Breasts become deflated, the skin of the abdomen remains loose, often with visible stretch marks on display, the abdominal wall experiences separation, and stubborn fat tends to accumulate and remain after pregnancy, regardless of diet and exercise.
While changes to breasts and bellies are pretty universal among mothers, every woman’s body and experience with pregnancy is unique. The term mommy makeover refers to a custom combination of procedures that are done during one trip to the operating room, all with the goal of restoring a woman to her pre-pregnancy physical state.
“The majority of the patients who come in for the so-called mommy makeover are getting a combination of a breast procedure and an abdominal trunk re-contouring procedure,” says Epstein. Which breast and tummy procedures they undergo will vary from woman to woman.
Restoring a Mother’s Breasts
When a woman’s breasts have deflated as a result of breastfeeding, but the breasts are not drooping or sagging, they may choose to undergo an augmentation to restore lost volume. During breast augmentation Dr. Epstein uses a small incision to place a breast implant.
When the breasts are sagging, a breast lift or breast reduction may be a better option to restore a youthful, pre-pregnancy shape to post-pregnancy breasts. In many cases, the best option may be a combination of breast augmentation, to restore volume, with a breast lift, to restore shape.
- Breast lift
- Combination lift and augmentation
- Breast reduction
Restoring a Mother’s Abdomen
What, if anything, is done to restore a woman’s abdomen during a mommy makeover depends on the answers to several questions. Does she have loose, excess skin? Are the muscles stretched out of position? Is there excess fat? If the answer is yes to all three questions, she may be a good candidate for a tummy tuck procedure. Also known as an abdominoplasty, the tummy tuck addresses excess skin, excess fat, and the layers of muscle below the surface that form the foundation of the stomach.
If, on the other hand, a woman has excess abdominal fat, but the skin on her abdomen is not hanging loose, she may be a better candidate for liposuction. When a woman’s skin is only slightly loose, she may be a candidate for a relatively new skin tightening procedure called BodyTite, shares Epstein.
Abdominal Contouring Procedures:
- Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
Other Surgery Possibilities
The changes a woman’s body undergoes during pregnancy are not limited to the abdomen and breasts. Weight gain often extends into other parts of the body. For some women stubborn fat may be visible on the arms, hips, thighs or neck. Breasts aren’t the only part of the body that can suffer deflation with pregnancy and age. Fat transfer to the buttocks can help restore a youthful shape to an aging body.
A woman’s private parts often undergo changes after pregnancy. Procedures like labiaplasty can help rejuvenate the vaginal region and boost a woman’s confidence both in and out of clothing.
Pregnancy can also take a toll on a woman’s skin. Whether it is changes in pigmentation, hormonal related acne or even visible signs of aging such as wrinkles or facial volume loss, a plastic surgeon has treatments available to help address many different skin related issues as part of a mommy makeover.
Consider all the Options:
- Fat transfer to the buttocks
- Liposuction of the arms, legs or neck
- Fillers or Botox for the face
- BodyTite or FaceTite
- Lasers or other medical treatments for the skin
Is There a Limit to How Much Can be Done?
The amount of surgery that can be done in one session is limited by several factors including the time spent in the operating room and the age of the patient. As a result, moms may need to prioritize their mommy makeover wishlist to fit within their surgeon’s allotted time frame.
“Even in an older patient we can accomplish a lot in one session,” says Epstein. “I’ve had women in their mid-sixties where we have easily been able to do liposuction of the abdomen and flanks, fat grafting to the buttocks and a tummy tuck, all at the same time. We can complete all of that in about five and a half hours and the patients do really really well.”
For younger patients in their thirties or forties, he may extend the time to include a breast procedure. The upper limit for time spent in surgery on a young healthy patient is about seven or seven and a half hours for Epstein.