Having children is perhaps one of the most gratifying experiences one can have. However, changes to the body that come with it are often persistent, dramatic, and undesirable. Even if you are disciplined enough to work out and eat right, or had minimal fluctuations in your weight, it’s often difficult to restore your body to its pre-pregnancy shape.
Couple these pregnancy changes with the many responsibilities that come with being a mom, and there is often not enough hours in the day to carve out even a few moments for “mommy time”. This leads to putting yourself last on the priority list making it exceedingly difficult to find time to take care of yourself. Don’t worry, YOU ARE NOT ALONE; many women in the same situation pursue cosmetic surgery improvements like a “mommy makeover” after childbearing for these same reasons. Many women after this procedure feel more confident and happy, which translates into an overall better quality of life.
What Exactly Is a Mommy Makeover?
A mommy makeover aims to restore common changes to the breasts and abdomen after child-bearing. Classically, the breasts droop and become deflated and the abdomen has redundant skin, stretch marks, and separation of the central muscles. Mommy makeovers generally include a breast lift, a tummy tuck, and maybe even liposuction. An often over-looked area of change with child bearing is in the female genital region and Dr. Hustak considers female genital rejuvenation an important component of the mommy makeover. Dr. Hustak can tailor mommy makeover procedures to fit your individual needs and goals. Every women’s body is unique, as is their changes associated with pregnancy, so the mommy makeover can be tailored to fit your unique needs.
Many women lose volume in their breasts. Often this is most dramatic following breastfeeding but can also happen to a degree with weight changes even in women that did not choose to breast feed. This is a common response to hormonal changes. In the lucky minority, your breast skin will shrink back and not droop, which can make breast augmentation alone a good option to replenish the loss of volume and increase or restore your pre-pregnancy breast size.
Unfortunately, most women end up with extra skin when the breast glandular tissue deflates after breast feeding. The leads to your breasts drooping (breast ptosis) as your nipples have moved to a lower position on your breasts. In this situation, Dr. Hustak recommends a breast lift (mastopexy) with or without a breast augmentation, depending on your goals for volume. Breast lifts can also make your areolae smaller (the dark part around your projected nipple) as this often gets stretched with the breast shape and size changes. A breast lift +/- breast augmentation is one of the most commonly performed post-pregnancy procedures.
When to consider a mommy makeover?
You should be finished breast-feeding for at least 3 months before considering any elective breast procedure.
It’s best if you are within 10 to 15 pounds of your ideal weight to maximize outcomes. Any dramatic fluctuations in weight will alter the results including re-stretching of the skin (increased weight gain) or excessive redundant skin remaining (increased weight loss).
Consider being done with child bearing before contemplating these operations. This will also maximize outcomes. The same changes that you experienced the first time post-pregnancy with your body are likely to happen again, even in operated areas. Re-operation is often more difficult and can result in overall suboptimal outcomes.
The purpose of a breast lift (mastopexy) is to correct droopy breasts (breast ptosis), improve the shape of your breasts, and downsize your nipple-areolar complex while moving it higher on your breast and chest wall.
There are a variety of techniques to accomplish this depending on your current breast shape and volume. The scar pattern from the surgery varies on the technique needed. Most commonly, the scar resulting is in an anchor shape and fades nicely over time. Although the scar is often large, most women find the improvement in shape well worth the trade off of having a scar.
What to expect: Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
The breast lift takes between two and three hours and in performed under general anesthesia. Some mommy makeover patients choose to stay overnight in the recovery unit and other choose to go home the same day. You are required to wear a surgical wrap for 24 hours followed by three weeks in a supportive sports bra with no underwires. No surgical drains are usually required. Most women can drive after a week, which is around the time when you no longer require pain medications during the day. You are not allowed to do any heavy lifting (over 5 pounds) or exercise for the first three weeks. This includes lifting small children (important for mommy makeover patients) so you need to enlist the help of friends and family while you are recovering. Most women can return to their normal activities in a graduated fashion at about 3 weeks of time.
The other area of your body commonly affected by pregnancy is the abdomen. Classically, there is excess skin in the lower abdomen as well separation of your underlying central six-pack muscles. This requires a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) to correct.
Separation of the six pack muscles during pregnancy is necessary to accommodate the growth of your baby. This same phenomenon happens with large weight shifts as well. These muscles don’t always return back to the center with weight loss. When they separate (diasthesis recti), this can destroy the girdle effect these muscles are supposed to have on your lower abdomen and no matter how many crunches you do or how much you diet, they will never return to pre-pregnancy position and you will likely always have a small bulge in the region from their separation. This can be corrected surgically by placing stitches in the muscles to bring them back together in the center. This will be done at the same time excess skin is removed with the tummy tuck. On some occasions, liposuction will be done at the same time to the sides of your abdomen to improve the contour.
Liposuction alone will not correct excess skin nor muscle separation-both components that are almost always present with post-pregnancy bodies. As such, liposuction alone to the abdomen is almost never performed as part of the mommy makeover.
What to Expect: Tummy Tuck
During a mommy makeover, tummy tucks (abdominoplasty) are performed at the time as the breast procedure. You are under general anesthesia during the entire surgery. Tummy tucks take two to three hours to perform. A long acting pain medication (liposomal bupivacaine) is injected into your abdominal muscles and skin to assist in post-operative pain and narcotic use. Some mommy makeover patients spend one overnight in the recovery care center but others chose to go home. There will be at least 2 drains in the abdomen after surgery to control swelling and fluid collection and these will stay in place until the output is low enough to safely remove (1-3 weeks). An abdominal binder or garment will be placed after surgery. No heavy lifting (greater than 5 pounds) or strenuous activity is allowed for six weeks following this procedure. Most patients can return to work in 2 weeks if with restrictions of lifting and activity.
Mommy makeover procedures are as diverse as the patients who benefit from them, so it is important that you seek consultation from a surgeon who has completed a rigorous plastic surgery training program and is board eligible or board certified by the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
A confident and content mommy is one that benefits the entire family.