Mommy makeover is a catch-all phrase often used to describe a combination of plastic surgery procedures aimed at restoring a woman’s post-pregnancy body to her pre-pregnancy shape.
After pregnancy and breastfeeding, many women find themselves frustrated with the changes their body has undergone. The physical toll pregnancy has taken on the body – loose skin on the abdomen, deflated breasts, stretch marks – are often noticeable regardless of how physically fit or active they may be.
“What happens after pregnancy is the breasts can be elongated,” explains board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Messa. “The abdominal wall gets weaker, the skin of the stomach stretches out. Unfortunately, these are all side effects, so to speak, of having a child.” That said, a mommy makeover is absolutely the fix. Dr. Messa details what the procedure typically looks like, and how mommies can get the most out of surgical solutions.
It’s Not a One-Size-Fits-All Surgery
The amount of surgery required to restore a mother’s figure after having children varies from woman to woman. Things like genetics, age, the amount of time spent breastfeeding, the amount of weight put on during pregnancy, and the amount of pregnancies a woman has undergone all contribute to the body’s ability to bounce back on its own after pregnancy.
“It’s got to be very individualized,” explains Messa. “It’s not just, ‘Okay, for every woman who has had children, you need all these procedures.’ It can be as simple as just a tummy tuck, it can be a breast lift, a breast lift with implants or it can be an implant alone.”
Mommy makeovers often include:
- Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
- Breast lift
- Lift with implants
- Augmentation alone
Define Your Goals
Mommy makeover surgery can be as limited or complex as you would like it to be. Messa recommends beginning the planning process by making a list of the things you would like to improve or restore on your body. What bothers you about your post-pregnancy appearance? What changes has your body undergone?
“A woman could have breasts that still look perfect after pregnancy and after breastfeeding. They may not need to do anything with their breasts,” points out Dr. Messa. “They may just have a little bit of looseness or laxity in the lower stomach.”
Mini vs. Full Tummy Tuck
During tummy tuck surgery, an incision is used to remove excess skin in the abdomen. Through the same incision, Dr. Messa is also able to tighten stretched out abdominal wall muscles, restoring a firm foundation to the abdomen.
When a small incision is all that is required to restore a smooth contour to the abdomen, it is referred to as a mini tummy tuck. For a full tummy tuck, a larger incision is necessary to remove excess skin and address the separated abdominal muscles.
The trade-off for a tight stomach is a scar where the incision is made. Whether the incision required is small or large, it can be placed in such a way that it is easily disguised beneath low-cut pants, a bikini bottom or the cut of your favorite underwear.
The Best Time for a Mommy Makeover
“Despite how discouraged they may be with how their stomach or their breasts look, it’s important to wait until you’re done having children,” advises Messa. “Not that they couldn’t go through another successful pregnancy and have a healthy child, but because it almost defeats the purpose. If you’re going to have another child, your skin will stretch out again, your breasts will change.”
Give Yourself Time to Recover
The amount of downtime required will vary depending on the type of surgery or surgeries done as part of the mommy makeover. For the first few weeks after a tummy tuck, most women will be a little slow on their feet. They need to refrain from lifting anything heavy, including children while they recover. Breast surgery, on the other hand, often has a shorter recovery period. Within a few days of an augmentation or a breast lift, women are typically back to their normal daily routine.
With any type of mommy makeover it is typically four to six weeks before women are cleared to return to vigorous exercise. “It’s important to take the time to recover,” stresses Dr. Messa. “Everyone is so concerned about getting back to work and back to their family, but if you don’t allow yourself enough time to heal, it’s going to make your recovery twice as bad.”
Restoring Bodies & Self Esteem
A mommy makeover can restore much more than a mother’s figure, it can restore her confidence. Dr. Messa’s patients often share that they find themselves spending less time worrying about how they look and feel, and instead have more freedom to enjoy their families. “Get back the body you once had. Feel better about yourself,” urges Messa. “You can go on living your life and be very happy.”