Pregnancy can – and for many, will – adversely affect the skin and tissues of the abdomen, stretching them past their natural ability to “bounce back.” It can also take its toll on the breasts as well. Post child birth and breast feeding, many women complain that their breasts sag or are deflated, like a tired balloon. For some, the post baby breast volume remains too large. The end result is a body contour that no longer feels like your own.
Thankfully, there are surgical procedures to address these issues for moms. Dr. John Q. Cook of Chicago, IL discusses the artistic, physiologic, and practical reasons why it often makes sense to combine a tummy tuck and breast surgery into one procedure.
Artistic Reasons for Combined Tummy Tuck & Breast Surgery
It is extremely common for moms to come in for a tummy tuck consultation because they are concerned about the changes that have occurred in their abdomens. The most disastrous outcome is stretched abdominal muscles – something that cannot be fixed with crunches nor exercise. While consulting, they ask whether or not it makes sense to address their breasts at the same time. “Very often, the answer is an enthusiastic ‘yes’,” explains Dr. Cook. While pregnancy affects the whole body, the abdomen and breasts bear the brunt of the trauma. Oftentimes, the skin and tissues stretch past the body’s ability to recover.
There are several good reasons why it’s smart to combine the two surgeries including:
- artistic reasons
- physiologic reasons
- practical reasons
From an artistic standpoint, all you have do is look at a great sculpture, like the Venus de Milo, to understand the beautiful and vital interplay between the central part of the body and the breasts. They really work together. If a plastic surgeon is able to address all of these variables at the same time, “you have the best chance to get a beautiful result,” explains Cook.
Physiologic Benefits of Combining Surgeries
From a physiologic standpoint, there are many benefits to combining these two surgeries. In the mid-section, it is quite common for a mother to have had her abdominal muscles severely stretched apart by pregnancy. Besides being aesthetically displeasing, it has a definitive adverse affect on the function of the body. For starters, the actual integrity of your abdominal wall has changed, making it hard to even do sit-ups. And when you stand up, the muscles can no longer hold in your stomach completely, so things may bulge forward.
In reaction, the back goes into a very severe curve, causing:
- back discomfort
- exercise limitations
- unattractive aesthetic
- poor self-esteem
Post pregnancy breasts can often be quite heavy or droopy as well, even throwing off a woman’s center of gravity. “In effect then, the breast and abdomen become co-conspirators in terms of causing discomfort,” explains Cook. By correcting the two at one, you obtain a double benefit. The patient looks better, her body functions better, and she feels better. It’s a real win-win.
Time is Precious
Furthermore, combining the two surgeries makes sense from a practical standpoint. “Our patients tend to be very active people,” says Cook. They have family, work and social responsibilities. Since “time is our most precious commodity,” combining two surgeries so there is only one recovery gives patients more time to get back to the things that are really important. This is a huge benefit for anyone, but especially for moms who already tend to suffer from too few hours in the day.
Combined Tummy Tuck & Breast Surgery Highly Individualized
One of the reasons that Dr. Cook doesn’t like to use the term mommy makeover for his combination tummy tuck and breast surgery procedure is that it tends to imply that there is one operation that fits all. This could not be further from the truth. “This is a highly individualized operation that has many different choices,” explains Dr. Cook.
With the abdomen, for example, a plastic surgeon may:
- do a fully tummy tuck with muscle repair
- choose a more superficial correction if the muscle tone is good
- combine a tummy tuck with liposuction and/or BodyTite
The right choice is going to depend on your anatomy, needs, lifestyle and desired outcome. In terms of the breasts, these choices include:
- breast reduction
- structural breast lift
- breast augmentation
- breast augmentation with lift
Safety & Setting
The important thing with any surgical procedure is to deliver exemplary results in a safe manner. This means that with the larger operations, the setting is something that must be considered. “I don’t personally like to do these just in a small office setting and send the patient home to recover,” says Dr. Cook. He performs most of his combined tummy tuck and breast surgery procedures in a fully accredited surgery center with five active operating rooms. There is even a hotel attached to the complex so that the patient with the larger forms of this procedure can spend the night with a highly experienced nurse. He also has his own sequential compression garments for the calves to cut down on the risk of blood clots.
This extra amount of care is the reason to select a board certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience in the procedures you desire, and who operates in an accredited facility. Surgeons are, after all, physicians, and patient safety and comfort is their top priority. All of this is especially vital to Dr. Cook “because it’s not just about getting a beautiful result but also a safe result,” he shares.