‘Mommy Makeover’ Plastic Surgery on the Rise
By Dr. L. Thomas Albert, FACS, Dr. Howard Heppe, FACS, and Dr. Harold Bautista, FACS
Published on October 20, 2007
Motherhood has its rewards.
Sagging or shrunken breasts and protruding stomachs are not among them.
When exercise and diet don’t work, many women turn to plastic surgery to correct the unwanted aftereffects of childbearing and breastfeeding.
Most of our breast surgery and tummy tuck patients are mothers who want to return to their pre-pregnancy shape. They have discovered that nursing has caused their breasts to lose volume or sag. No matter how many sit-ups and crunches these health-conscious women do, they can’t tighten their abdominal muscles. So they come to us for “mommy makeover” procedures such as breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and breast lift.
Such requests reflect a national trend. More than 325,000 tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and breast lift surgeries were performed on women between the ages of 20 and 39 in 2006, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Breast augmentation was the most popular surgery for women in that age group while tummy tuck and breast lift ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Overall, the statistics show an 11 percent increase in the number of these surgeries performed in 2005.
Studies also show that most women who chose to undergo plastic surgery are in their thirties and forties, educated, and coming from all income levels. They have given much thought to undergoing surgery, and the vast majority said that if they had it do over again, they would.
Diane McNeil, 40, of Sterling, Virginia, had a tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and breast lift in July. According to her, she couldn’t be happier with her decision. She feels healthier and more confident now.
“I have more energy, and I’m more physically active,” said the married mother of two grown children.
McNeil, who is studying to become a criminal profiler, said she decided to have the procedures because she wasn’t happy with the way she looked.
“No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the [abdominal] weight off,” she said.
Prior to the surgeries, she wore T-shirts, sweat pants, and other loose clothing. Now she wears more stylish, form-fitting clothes.
Her advice to other women considering plastic surgery is to “do your research. Don’t just go to the first doctor you hear about. Weigh the pros and cons and determine what is best for you.”
One of the most important steps in choosing a plastic surgeon is to make sure he or she is board certified and experienced in performing the procedures you are considering.
McNeil’s research paid off. “I would do it all over again if I had to,” she said.
In general, our patients who have “mommy makeovers” tell us they feel more confident, and they love their healthier, fitter look. Of course, those who are considering plastic surgery should discuss all of their options and expectations with a board-certified surgeon before deciding which course of action is right for them.
Mommy Makeovers 101: A Quick Lesson on Mommy Makeover Surgeries
To help you decide whether a “mommy makeover” is right for you, here is a brief summary of the procedures:
Breast augmentation enhances breast size using either saline-filled or silicone gel-filled implants. Silicone implants are filled with silicone gel, a semi-solid. Saline implants are filled with salt water, the same kind used in I.V. fluids. Both types of implants have their benefits depending upon your body and personal preference.
The surgery takes one to two hours and can be performed in an accredited outpatient facility. Side effects are temporary soreness, swelling and bruising. Most patients are able to return to work in a few days.
Breast lift surgery removes excess skin, resulting in a shapely and perkier breast. The nipples and areolas (the pigmented skin surrounding the nipples) are shifted to a higher position. If the areola has been stretched, it can be reduced in size.
Side effects include temporary bruising, swelling, discomfort, rarely numbness, and permanent scars, which fade with time. Most patients are able to return to work in one week, but they must avoid strenuous activities for two to four weeks.
Abdominoplasty, more commonly called a “tummy tuck,” is a major surgical procedure in which the surgeon removes excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall. Sometimes the navel is repositioned, and the surgeon makes a new opening for it. The results can be a dramatically flatter stomach and a narrower waist.
It’s important to realize that a tummy tuck leaves the patient with a scar, which can extend from hip to hip. Recovery can take several weeks or months depending upon the patient’s physical condition. Some women are able to resume normal activities after two weeks. Women who plan to have more children may consider postponing the surgery because vertical muscles in the abdomen that are tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy.
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