What is a Mommy Makeover?
updated July 18th, 2014
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For many women, having a child is one of the most fulfilling experiences of their lives. The birth of a new child can bring joy, not only to the mother, but to all those around her. Some women, however, feel self-conscious about the effects that pregnancy has on their bodies. The stretching of the skin on the abdomen, breasts, thighs, and other areas of the body during pregnancy can lead to sagging, stretch marks, and isolated deposits of fat. To counteract these changes, some women choose to have a "Mommy Makeover," which is a combination of post-pregnancy plastic surgery, skin treatment, and cellulite removal. These procedures are primarily meant to address the unwanted physical effects of pregnancy that cannot be reversed through diet and exercise alone.
Mommy Makeovers are uniquely personalized treatment plans, and your doctor will help you select the procedures best suited to your case, based on your cosmetic goals, budget, health, and desired timeline. While none of the procedures are intended to be weight loss treatments, following your Mommy Makeover, you could enjoy a sleeker, younger looking figure that more closely resembles your pre-pregnancy body.
There are many factors to consider before undergoing a Mommy Makeover, such as your current health and lifestyle, the areas of your body you want to target, and how post-pregnancy plastic surgery will affect your family life.
If you have successfully lost weight after your pregnancy, but you have been unable to eliminate stubborn pockets of fat and sagging skin, you are probably a good candidate for the cosmetic procedures commonly incorporated into Mommy Makeover plans. It is also important to remember that a Mommy Makeover isn't just for recent moms-some women wait a few or several years before treating themselves. If cosmetic surgery isn't the right choice for you right now, you may want to consider waiting until your children are a little older.
Mommy Makeovers are suitable for women who gave birth naturally, as well as those who underwent a C-section. In fact, if you have scarring or sagging skin as a result of a caesarian, a Mommy Makeover can be a great way to address these blemishes. Additionally, if you have suffered a hernia around your naval, common after giving birth to twins or triplets, a doctor can often repair this damage at the same time that he or she makes cosmetic enhancements.
In order to be considered a good candidate for a Mommy Makeover, you should be at least 18 years old and in good health. You should also not be planning to have any more children. If you do become pregnant again, a past Mommy Makeover will not threaten your health or that of your child. However, it could reverse the results of your cosmetic treatment. For this reason, many doctors will advise younger women to wait a few years before making the final decision to undergo a Mommy Makeover.
Additionally, you should only pursue this treatment because it is something you want to do. Never undergo cosmetic surgery to please someone else or to meet another person's expectations.
Signs That a Mommy Makeover May Not Be Right for You
You may not be a good candidate for a Mommy Makeover if:
- You have a health condition such as an autoimmune disease or blood disorder that makes elective surgery risky
- You have a health condition that could cause complications with anesthesia
- You are overweight
- You are planning to lose a significant amount of weight
- You are planning to have more children
- You smoke and are unwilling to give it up for a few weeks before and a few weeks after your treatment
When you are considering a Mommy Makeover, your doctor will thoroughly explain the various surgical options and make sure that you have a reasonable understanding of what they can and cannot accomplish. These treatments can be immensely helpful in eliminating excess skin, tightening damaged muscle, and reducing the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite. However, none of the procedures should be considered weight loss treatments. Although they can contour your skin to match your natural slimmer figure, if you are carrying excess pounds, you should strive to lose that extra weight before undergoing a Mommy Makeover. You should also understand that, while this treatment can help you look years younger, it cannot stop the aging process. In later years, you may opt for additional touchup treatments. Finally, there is no guarantee that your body will look exactly as it did before you had your baby. Pregnancy causes massive biochemical and physical changes, so, while a Mommy Makeover can greatly enhance your figure, it may not be able to reverse all of these effects. Still, with reasonable expectations, you are likely to be very satisfied with the results of your treatment.
Because Mommy Makeovers are highly personalized, it is impossible to give a base price. The cost of your treatment will depend on many factors including:
- The procedures you include: Mommy Makeovers comprise two or more procedures, each of which will have its own variations and prices. If you are on a budget, your doctor can help you select the treatments that best meet both your aesthetic and your financial goals.
- Advanced technology: Many doctors use advanced treatment options for more efficient, effective care. While techniques such as endoscopic surgery or ultrasound-assisted liposuction will minimize discomfort and recovery time, they will typically cost a bit more than traditional treatment.
- Your body type: If you are having liposuction or skin excision, the amount of tissue removed will have a direct correlation to the cost. Therefore, if you have a naturally smaller frame, the cost of your treatment is likely to be lower.
- Where you live: Treatment costs vary in different parts of the country. Generally, cosmetic surgery has a higher price in large metropolitan areas on the East and West Coasts.
- The experience of your doctor: A renowned doctor who is known for outstanding results may charge more than a doctor who has yet to establish his or her reputation, though this isn't necessarily the case. Some doctors with little experience charge higher prices in order to create the impression that they are elite practitioners, while many of the nation's most reputable doctors offer highly competitive pricing.
When you first meet with your doctor, he or she will give you an estimated cost of treatment. It is important to remember, however, that there are likely to be additional fees not included in this quote. As with the surgery itself, these fees will vary depending on location and a practitioner's expertise. When discussing the cost, be sure to ask about other charges, including:
- Anesthesia: Most procedures included in a Mommy Makeover will be performed using general or local anesthesia. Different types of sedation will have varying costs. Additionally, anesthesiologists themselves will charge different fees.
- Surgical facilities: If a doctor does not have his or her own ambulatory surgery center, the facility where your procedure takes place will typically charge a separate fee.
- Post-operative care: Following your Mommy Makeover procedures, you may require various bandages, compression garments, and ointments. These products are not typically included in the initial estimate.
- Medications: Depending on your procedures, you may need over-the-counter or prescription medications to minimize discomfort and enhance healing.
Because Mommy Makeovers are elective procedures, designed to make cosmetic enhancements, they are not typically covered by insurance. Breast reduction is the one exception. If your breasts have been stretched or enlarged because of pregnancy and breast-feeding, they may cause significant discomfort. In severe cases, they may even inhibit your daily activities. If you are considering a breast reduction as part of your Mommy Makeover, be sure to ask your doctor about insurance coverage. Often, the office staff will help you file your claim and get the financial assistance you deserve.
In-House and Third Party Financing
Although most procedures included in a Mommy Makeover are not covered by insurance, doctors usually offer multiple financing options to make your sleeker figure an affordable reality. Be sure to inquire about these repayment plans at your first consultation. Most doctors accept credit cards, cash, and check. Many provide in-house financing options, including low- or no-interest repayment plans, as well as discounts when procedures are paid for in full.
- Poor credit? No credit? Don't sweat it! You can afford the procedure you want with low-interest, no-hassle financing through Compassionate Finance.
Additionally, many practitioners accept third-party financing. Medical credit cards, such as CareCredit® and Springstone®, work much like traditional credit cards, but they are reserved strictly for healthcare. Most offer no-interest and fixed-interests plans to patients with approved credit. Finally, many patients choose to finance their Mommy Makeovers through additional third party lenders. Many banks and other companies will loan money at an affordable interest rate. If you have questions about financing your plastic surgery, ask your doctor about it at your first appointment. Typically your surgeon or the administrative staff can help you understand your options and assist you in choosing the repayment plan that most suits your family's budget.
Invest in Your Future
Whatever the full cost of your treatment, it is important to remember that the results of your Mommy Makeover could last for many years or even decades to come. Therefore, it is important to choose a practitioner with demonstrated expertise and an outstanding reputation. Choosing a less experienced or less reputable surgeon can have serious consequences for your health and appearance. In the long run, it could cost you more, especially if you require revision surgery or if you experience complications from your treatment.
How to Choose a Surgeon
Deciding to undergo a Mommy Makeover is an exciting and important step. Therefore, it is vital that you select a doctor who will protect your health and provide outstanding results. However with so many plastic surgeons to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is the right one for you. Before settling on a doctor you should talk to several different surgeons. You can also ask for recommendations from friends or from your general practitioner. For further assistance, use DocShop's search tool to find a qualified plastic surgeon in your area.
When considering and interviewing doctors, there are several key things you should look for.
First and most importantly, you should always choose a doctor who is accredited by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This premiere medical group will not grant accreditation unless a doctor has the required expertise, including three to five years of medical training. At least two of these years must have been strictly dedicated to cosmetic surgery. In order to maintain their accreditation, surgeons must pursue ongoing education and take written exams every ten years. Additionally, doctors should be licensed members of their states' medical boards.
While other accreditations are not necessary, they can indicate that a doctor has advanced training and enjoys a good reputation. Other affiliations and certifications can include:
- Membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons®
- Membership in the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
- Membership in the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
- Membership in various local civic and medical institutions
If your doctor does not operate at a hospital, it is vital that he or she have hospital privileges. First, this is a good indication of his or her reputation. Hospitals are very cautious when they give these privileges, and a doctor must adhere to the highest surgical, ethical, and safety standards. In addition, hospital privileges are important to your safety. Although Mommy Makeovers are very safe, like all surgeries, they do carry some risk. Therefore, it is important to have access to emergency care in the unlikely event that a serious complication occurs.
Not all plastic surgeons will be up to the task of a Mommy Makeover. Many doctors have specialized areas of expertise. While one surgeon may be an outstanding choice for a facelift, he or she may have far less experience with body contouring procedures. When selecting your doctor, it is important to look for a surgeon with experience in the specific treatments you need. If possible, choose a doctor who performs a large number of Mommy Makeovers. Finally, if you are interested in a certain technique or technology, look for a surgeon who uses these advanced methods.
Every state medical board is required to make its records open to the public. If you are considering a certain surgeon, ask to see these records. Look to see if the doctor has a trustworthy history. In many states, these records are easily accessible online. In other states, you may need to request paper copies through the mail.
You would never choose an architect to design your home unless you had seen some of his or her other buildings. It is the same with a plastic surgeon, and you should choose a doctor with an artistic eye and a gift for yielding beautiful, natural results. Most doctors have galleries that allow you to view examples of their past work. Before selecting a surgeon, you should take a good look at these pictures. Be wary of any doctor who shows poorly lit or blurry pictures. You should also be cautious if a doctor displays pictures that are all taken from the same angle; he or she may be hiding unfavorable results.
If the doctor you are considering operates at an outpatient surgery center, you should check this institution's reputation and accreditation. All facilities should be accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Centers. To qualify for this accreditation, a facility must follow strict safety and hygiene standards.
The Initial Consultation
Your first appointment with a plastic surgeon serves a twofold purpose. First, it allows you to decide whether a doctor is the right choice for you. While your initial research is a vital step, you cannot make a fully informed decision until you speak with the surgeon in person. Second, the doctor can determine whether you are a candidate for a Mommy Makeover.
Personal Connection with Your Doctor
While professional recognition and experience are vital factors in your choice of plastic surgeon, there is an important personal consideration, as well. Mommy Makeovers are customized procedures, and because they are often performed in stages, the entire treatment could take months to complete. Therefore it is important to choose a doctor with whom you feel comfortable. For a more pleasant experience and optimal aesthetic results, look for a surgeon who:
- Treats you with respect
- Makes you feel at ease
- Takes all the time you need to answer questions
- Truly listens to your cosmetic goals
- Strives to create a treatment plan in line with these goals
- Does not pressure you to undergo more surgery than you want or need
After you have decided that a particular doctor is a good choice for you, he or she will determine whether you are suitable for a Mommy Makeover. First, the doctor will take your health history. You should be prepared to discuss underlying conditions, as this could affect your candidacy for treatment. In many cases, health concerns will not prevent you from undergoing a Mommy Makeover, but your doctor may need to take certain precautions. Your doctor will also ask you whether you smoke. You should be upfront about any tobacco use. Smoking will not typically prevent you from undergoing surgery, but it could inhibit healing.
To create a treatment plan that truly suits your needs, your doctor will need to conduct a complete physical exam. He or she will look at the quality of your skin, including elasticity and how much tissue may need to be excised. If you are looking to address stretch marks and/or cellulite, the doctor will also examine these blemishes. In many cases, a surgeon will ask you to move around so that he can watch your muscles in action. This will give him a better idea of your muscle strength and how much he may need to lift and tighten these tissues.
Creating the Customized Treatment Plan
During your initial consultation, you and your doctor can decide how many and what kind of procedures you want to include in your makeover. Because pregnancy and breast feeding can cause numerous physical changes, there are multiple procedures you may consider, including:
- Breast augmentation
- Breast reduction
- Breast lift
- Body Contouring
- Cellulite removal
- Stretch mark reduction or removal
In some cases, a doctor may also recommend a skin rejuvenation treatment as the finishing touch of your Mommy Makeover.
Obviously, you will not undergo all of the treatments listed above. Along with your doctor, you will carefully select the right procedures, taking several factors into account. These considerations include:
- Physical needs: Certain procedures, especially breast reduction, can enhance your quality of life and overall wellness. Therefore, health-related procedures may be your doctor's first area of focus.
- Cosmetic goals: Most procedures in a Mommy Makeover are focused on aesthetics. Therefore, the treatments you include will depend on your body's reaction to pregnancy and breast-feeding. For example, you may benefit from a tummy tuck and thigh lift, while another patient may be better off with liposuction and a breast lift. There really are very few limitations when it comes to your treatment plan.
- Recovery time: If you are a new mom or if you cannot take much time away from work, your doctor can help you select procedures that will involve the least amount of downtime while still yielding great results.
- Budget: As mentioned above, the exact cost of a Mommy Makeover can vary widely. If you are on a budget, you should let your doctor know at your first appointment. She can help you select the procedures that will give you the best results for your money.
Liposuction is one of the most common procedures to include in a Mommy Makeover. This treatment is not a weight loss procedure, and it cannot take the place of diet and exercise. However, it can be an excellent option if you have isolated pockets of fat that do not respond to lifestyle changes. Liposuction is suitable for most areas of the body, but in Mommy Makeovers, it is frequently used on the abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, breasts, and upper arms.
To perform liposuction, your doctor will use local anesthetic to numb the treatment area. If you are having a larger area treated, or if you are feeling anxious, your doctor may also offer general anesthesia. After the anesthesiologist administers sedation, your doctor will create several tiny incisions, through which he or she will insert a small tube called a cannula. Using the cannula, your doctor will separate the unwanted fat cells from the surrounding tissues before suctioning them out. Finally, he or she will close the incisions with sutures or surgical tape.
Liposuction is often performed in conjunction with body contouring procedures like tummy tucks, thigh lifts, arm lifts, and others.
Advanced Liposuction Options
New techniques also enable doctors to perform the procedure much more quickly and with less discomfort and bruising than older forms of liposuction. These state-of-the-art methods include:
- Tumescent liposuction: Before inserting the cannula, your doctor will inject the treatment area with a special anesthetic solution. Not only will the injection minimize your discomfort; it will also expand the fat cells, so that your doctor can isolate and extract them more easily and with less impact to the surrounding cells.
- Ultrasonic liposuction: The doctor will use sound waves to liquefy fat cells before suctioning them out.
- Power assisted liposuction: A vibrating tip on the cannula can break the fat cells apart, making them easier for your doctor to remove.
- Laser liposuction: High-power laser beams break apart and loosen fat cells, again making them easier for your doctor to eliminate. This state-of-the-art method greatly reduces discomfort. Some patients can return to work the very next day, and many do not require anesthesia during treatment.
Results and Recovery
Immediately after liposuction, you may experience some swelling and discomfort. Your doctor will typically advise wearing a compression garment or bandage to speed recovery and help your skin lay more smoothly over the new contours of your body. Although you will typically notice some differences in your figure after treatment, these results will become more apparent as healing progresses over the next several months. Following your full recovery, you could enjoy a smoother, more youthful figure free from obstinate pockets of "baby fat."
Visit the DocShop gallery to view liposuction before and after photos.
Photo credit: Dr. Dina Eliopoulos
During pregnancy and breast-feeding, your breasts become larger. After your baby is born and your breasts return to a smaller size, the skin and muscles will not always spring back. During a breast lift, also known as mastopexy, your doctor will remove excess skin and tighten the underlying muscles to give you a perkier, rejuvenated figure.
A doctor will typically perform breast lift surgery while the patient is under general or IV sedation. After the anesthesiologist has administered medication, your doctor will create incisions, concealing them in the natural folds of your breasts as much as possible. Typically, the surgeon will create an anchor shaped incision, encircling your areola, and running down your breast and along the crease. Then he or she will lift and tighten the underlying muscle, removing extra tissues, if needed. In some cases, the doctor may also combine liposuction with a breast lift, removing extra deposits of fat. He or she will also remove the nipple and areola, placing them at a higher and more natural position on the breast. If pregnancy and nursing has left your areola stretched and enlarged, the doctor can also remove excess tissues from the perimeter. In many cases, the doctor can place implants during the breast lift procedure. Finally, he or she will close the incisions using sutures or surgical tape.
Advanced Surgical Options
Many doctors also use advanced techniques to minimize recovery and achieve more pleasing results. During a doughnut mastopexy, the doctor will only remove tissues from around the nipple and areola. This treatment is less invasive, leaves fewer scars, and involves a shorter recovery. However, because the doctor cannot remove as much tissue as he or she could in a traditional breast lift, it may not be the best option if you have especially large breasts.
During a laser bra lift, your surgeon will use the excised skin to create a flap of tissues, attaching it inside the breast. The extra tissues provide an internal lift that can last longer than the results of a traditional beast lift. Despite the extra step, recovery from this procedure is not typically any longer than recovery from a standard mastopexy.
Results and Recovery
Following a breast lift, it is normal to experience some swelling and discomfort, which can typically be controlled with over-the-counter or prescription pain medication. You will also need to wear a compression garment or bandages for the first week or two and you should plan to take at least 7 to 10 days off from work. Immediately after your procedure, swelling may obscure the results. However, as this subsides, you will notice that your breasts are firmer, perkier, and more youthful. You may even feel more confident about your appearance than you did before your pregnancy.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view breast lift before and after photos.
Photo credit: James P. Wire, MD
Even though your breasts got bigger while you were expecting and nursing your baby, you may be dismayed to find that they now sag and are smaller than they were before your pregnancy. If so, you may want to consider breast augmentation as part of your Mommy Makeover, either by itself or in conjunction with a breast lift. Your doctor can use custom-selected saline or silicone implants to boost volume and give a firmer, more proportionate figure.
Breast Implant Options
At your consultation, your surgeon will help you select the right implants for your needs and cosmetic goals. First you will need to decide on the material, choosing from three options:
- Saline implants: Made with a silicone shell, these implants are filled with a sterile saltwater solution. Your doctor will insert the implant and then fill it to meet your specifications.
- Silicone implants: These implants are also made with a silicone shell, but they are filled with silicone gel. This type of implant feels more natural than saline, but silicone makes it harder to detect a leak.
- "Gummy bear" implants: Some surgeons offer the newest type of breast implant, made of a single shell of silicone. These implants retain their natural shape if cut in half, just like the candy from which they take their nickname.
Once you have chosen the implant material, you will also need to choose a shape and size. Implants come in both round and teardrop shaped, and each has their advantages. They are also available in a range of sizes. Your doctor will help you choose the implant that is most suited to your cosmetic goals and the natural size of your breast.
Before beginning your breast augmentation procedure, your doctor will administer sedation. Typically, he or she will use general anesthesia, although you can sometimes select IV or inhaled sedatives. When you are comfortable, he or she will create incisions, and like those used in a breast lift, they will be carefully concealed within the natural folds of your breast. There are four possible incision patterns:
- Below the breast crease
- Around the areola
- In the armpit
- At the navel
The pattern your doctor selects will depend on the shape of your breasts and the type of implant you are to receive. Through the incisions, the doctor will place the implants, carefully positioning them above or below the pectoral muscles. Then he or she will use sutures or tape to close the incisions.
Results and Recovery
Immediately after you receive your breast implants, you will notice a difference in your figure, and the results will become even more apparent as you recover. Following breast augmentation, it is normal to experience some swelling and discomfort. You will need to limit your physical activity. Plan to take at least a week off from work, although you should to avoid strenuous activity for about a month. Throughout your recovery, you will begin to enjoy the results of your procedure, including a fuller figure and an increase in confidence.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more breast augmentation before and after photos.
Photo credit: Dr. Brian Kobienia
It is normal for your breasts to get larger during pregnancy, but if they do not return to their normal size following the birth of your baby, it can cause difficulties. In many cases, large breasts can even cause physical discomfort and negatively affect a woman's quality of life. Your breasts may cause backaches and neck pain. If they are pendulous, you may experience chafing under your breast crease. In some cases, they can even prevent you from enjoying the physical activities you love.
During a breast reduction, your doctor will remove excess tissues and fat from your breasts to give you a more proportionate figure and eliminate physical discomfort. Because this procedure can have lasting benefits for your overall physical wellness, your insurance may cover this part of your Mommy Makeover.
The Traditional Procedure
In a traditional breast reduction surgery, your doctor will create an anchor-shaped incision around your nipple, down to the bottom of your breast, and along the crease. Then he or she will remove excess fat and tissue, combining manual techniques and liposuction, as needed. The surgeon will also relocate your nipple and areola higher up on your breast. In most cases, the doctor can keep the tissues attached to the underlying nerves, so you will retain full sensation in these areas.
Although the anchor pattern technique described above is the most common method of breast reduction, your doctor may also offer several other advanced options. These include:
- Short-scar technique: This technique eliminates the long incision running along the breast crease. Because the treatment is less invasive, it impacts less glandular tissue, and it involves minimal discomfort and recovery time. However, if you want to eliminate a large amount of tissue, it may not be the ideal option for you.
- Scar-less breast reduction: By using liposuction alone, your doctor can reduce fatty deposits in your breast, while at the same time, leaving virtually undetectable scars. This technique only removes fat cells, and it does not affect the connective tissue. Therefore it is typically a better option if you want subtler results.
Results and Recovery
After breast reduction, you will experience some swelling, so you may not notice the full results of your treatment right away. You will need to wear a compression bandage or garment, and your surgeon will most likely place drainage tubes under your skin. These tubes will typically come out a few days after your surgery, and you may also need to return within 7 to 10 days to have your stitches removed. You should get plenty of rest after breast reduction. Plan to take at least a week off from work, and avoid strenuous activity for about a month.
As you continue to heal, you will start to enjoy the many benefits of breast reduction surgery, including:
- A more proportionate figure
- Reduced back and neck pain
- Lower risk for skeletal deformities
- Increased physical freedom
- An easier time finding clothes
- Hugely improved self-confidence
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more breast reduction before and after photos.
Photo credit: Mountcastle Plastic Surgery
During a pregnancy, the skin and muscle tissue in the abdominal area will inevitably stretch, often causing a looser, "flabbier" tummy. Sometimes even weight loss and rigorous strength training cannot help recapture that flat, firm stomach you had before pregnancy. A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, can restore a taut and toned stomach by removing excess skin and tightening the abdominal muscles. A tummy tuck can be combined with fat removal and other post-pregnancy plastic surgery.
The Traditional Procedure
Before a traditional full tummy tuck, you will typically be given general anesthesia, although on rare occasions a doctor may offer local anesthesia. After sedation, the surgeon will create one or more incisions, placing them so that they can be concealed by clothes or swimsuits as much as possible. For a full tummy tuck, the incision will typically run between the hipbones above your pubic hair line. A second incision may extend around the belly button. Your doctor will gently lift up the skin to tighten the underlying muscles. If needed, he or she may remove damaged tissues that were overly stretched during pregnancy. Liposuction can also eliminate stubborn fat cells. After the muscle structure has been trimmed and tightened, in many cases, your doctor will relocate your naval, placing it higher up on your abdomen. In some cases, he or she may even create a new belly button.
Tummy Tuck Variations
While a full tummy tuck addresses the entire abdomen, there are several other procedures that can target larger or smaller portions of your body. These include:
- Extended tummy tucks: During this procedure, your doctor will create a longer incision to reduce fat and excess skin in the back, sometimes referred to as "love handles."
- Mini tummy tucks: This procedure addresses only the lower part of your abdomen, and it typically requires only one incision.
No matter which type of tummy tuck you select, your doctor may use an advanced endoscopic technique to reduce discomfort and recovery time. Using this method, he can create much smaller incisions, through which he will insert a tiny camera called an endoscope. If you have suffered muscle separation as a result of your pregnancy, you may be an ideal candidate for an endoscopic tummy tuck.
Results and Recovery
Because tummy tucks are more invasive than other types of cosmetic surgery, they do involve a more extensive recovery time. To enhance healing, minimize your risks, and encourage optimal aesthetic results, you should get take it easy after your treatment. You should take at least two weeks off from work and refrain from strenuous physical activity for a month to six weeks. During your healing, it is normal to have some swelling and bruising, so you may not notice the results of your procedure right away. Over the next few weeks, you will begin to see your flatter, firmer stomach. In fact, you may find that, following your tummy tuck, you are more pleased with your figure than you were even before your pregnancy.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view abdominoplasty before and after photos.
Photo credit: Ramiro Morales, MD
Lower Body Lift
Following the birth of your children, you may find that your entire lower body seems to sag, especially if you gained and lost a lot of weight during and after your pregnancies. During a lower body lift, your doctor can lift and tighten the muscles in the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, and groin. He or she can also eliminate excess skin that may be compromising your appearance and causing unpleasant chafing.
Lower body lifts are performed under general anesthesia. When you are asleep, your doctor will create a complete circumferential incision around your waist, thighs, and buttock. Through these incisions, he or she will carefully raise your muscles, attaching them higher up on your body. If needed, the doctor can also trim away excess muscle tissue and eliminate fat cells using liposuction. Finally, he or she will excise loose skin so that it sits smoothly over the new contours of your body. The doctor may perform the latter step in several stages, depending on the amount of skin that must be removed.
Results and Recovery
Because a full body lift addresses such a large area of your body, the treatment will require extensive recovery time. You may have to take four to six weeks off from work. You will also need to avoid strenuous physical activity, sometimes for up to eight weeks after your treatment. However, like most patients, you may feel that this extended recovery time is well worth it when you see the stunning results. Following your lower body lift, you can enjoy a more even, contoured figure, an overall younger appearance, greater physical freedom, and improved self-esteem. Although your body will continue to change over time, with healthy lifestyle choices, the results of your treatment could last for decades, if not for the rest of your life.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view body lift before and after photos.
Photo credit: Bella Cosmetic Surgery
Although pregnancy does not directly affect the arms, aging and biochemical changes can leave you with sagging skin and untoned muscles on the upper arms. Arm lift surgery is especially suitable if you have had multiple pregnancies that may have caused your weight to fluctuate dramatically over time. During this treatment, your doctor will tighten and sculpt the arm muscles and eliminate excess fat cells, if needed.
Types of Arm Lift
There are two types of arm lifts, and your surgeon will help you select the right one for you during your initial consultation. Each type can be performed under full anesthesia or IV sedation, depending on your preferences and your surgeon's recommendation.
A full arm lift offers the most comprehensive results, removing a large amount of drooping skin from your upper arms. Your doctor will create a long incision, typically along the back of your arm or along your inner arm. The exact length will depend on the amount of skin you wish to remove. If you have stubborn fat pockets, your doctor may use liposuction to achieve a more pleasing contour. Then he will gently pull the skin more tightly over the muscular structure of your arm, trimming away any excess tissues.
A mini arm lift may be appropriate if you have a less severe amount of excess skin. This procedure involves a much smaller incision, typically located inside your armpit. From there, the procedure is nearly identical to a full arm lift.
Results and Recovery
This procedure can have an enormous impact on your overall appearance. In fact, many women who include an arm lift as part of their Mommy Makeovers enjoy a dramatically younger, slimmer look. Although you may notice some difference immediately after your surgery, the best results typically appear about 2 to 3 months later, when swelling has fully subsided. It is important to note that you will be left with visible scarring, although it will fade within a year. However, most women feel that the striking results of an arm lift are well worth the marks on the inside of their arms.
Following your arm lift, you will typically need to take two to three weeks off from work, and you should carefully follow your doctor's post-surgery instructions. You can resume strenuous physical activity after about a month, although you will need to avoid heavy lifting, jogging, and contact sports for about 6 weeks after your treatment.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view more arm lift before and after photos.
Photo credit: Mountcastle Plastic Surgery
Cellulite is caused by normal fat cells that push up against the surrounding skin cells, including the fibrous connective tissues between cells. This causes your skin to have a dimpled look, which many liken to the appearance of cottage cheese. Cellulite can affect women of all ages and body types. However, because you will gain a certain amount of necessary fat when you are expecting, you may notice an increase in cellulite following the birth of your baby. While virtually all women have some cellulite, there are several treatments that may significantly reduce its presence.
If you wish to get rid of cellulite, but do not want to undergo invasive post-pregnancy plastic surgery, you may want to consider lipodissolve (mesotherapy). During this treatment, your doctor will inject the treatment area with natural compounds, including vitamins, enzymes, and soy-based phosphatidylcholine. The compounds break down and liquefy the fat, which is then eliminated through the body's internal waste system. As the fat leaves your body, your skin will naturally tighten around the treatment area, giving you a more toned appearance. Lipodissolve is most effective on the areas that tend to accumulate fat after pregnancy, such as the stomach, thighs, and buttocks. Patients typically see optimal results when they undergo several treatments, and results appear gradually as your body starts to expel the liquefied fat.
If you are considering this treatment, you should be aware that the injectable solution does not have FDA approval and that many practitioners have expressed doubt over the effectiveness of mesotherapy. For these reasons, many doctors do not offer lipodissolve. Nevertheless, some patients and doctors have enjoyed great results from this therapy.
Laser therapy, including innovative Cellulaze therapy, is a newer form of cellulite treatment that does have FDA approval. When you choose this procedure, your doctor will numb the treatment area before creating several tiny incisions, through which he will insert tiny fiber optic lasers. The lasers will emit high-power beams of energy, which will liquefy fat cells and break down the connective tissues that press down on them. The laser also stimulates collagen production, giving you firmer, more youthful skin.
Recovery from laser cellulite treatment is typically minimal. You can usually go back to work the next day, although you may need to avoid strenuous physical activity for about a week.
Stretch Mark Removal
Stretch marks are another unfortunate side effect of the "labor of love" that is childbirth. Because the skin must expand so much during pregnancy, tiny tears form in the abdomen, thighs, and rear. Eventually these tears scar, causing permanent white, vein-like streaks to appear. Luckily, there are a number of cosmetic treatments specifically designed to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
More conservative doctors may recommend ointments and creams to treat stretch marks, but these are typically most effective on new marks. Because you should not undergo a Mommy Makeover until your weight and hormones have stabilized following pregnancy, your stretch marks will be older and typically will not respond as well to these remedies. Therefore, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatment, especially since you will already be undergoing similar procedures.
During laser treatment, your doctor will shine an excimer or pulsed dye laser on the stretch marks. High energy UV light will then break down cellular bonds in the damaged layer of skin. As the compromised tissues collapse, your skin's natural healing process will take effect, replacing the marred skin with healthy, smooth tissues. At the same time, the lasers will stimulate collagen production to enhance elasticity. You will typically require multiple treatments to achieve optimal results.
Surgery for Stretch Marks
While laser therapy and natural treatments can reduce the appearance of stretch marks, they cannot eliminate them completely. Body contouring procedures, such as those described above, are the only cure for stretch marks. As your surgeon re-drapes your skin over the new muscle contours, he or she will gently pull the skin to eliminate the depressions left by damaged tissues.
The exact timeline of a Mommy Makeover will depend on your surgeon's preferences and the procedures you choose. Following the initial consultation, some doctors prefer to begin treatment right away. Others prefer to wait, giving you a chance to review your options. Additionally, if you want to lose weight or if your body is still undergoing biochemical changes, you doctor may advise you to delay your treatment.
The Mommy Makeover itself can take place all at once or in stages. Most doctors prefer to do all procedures at the same time, which will minimize your recovery in the long run. However, if you are undergoing an unusually large number of procedures, your surgeon may stagger the treatments to minimize your discomfort and avoid complications. In this case, you can often choose which areas you want to treat first. For example, if large breasts are causing you physical discomfort, you may decide to undergo breast reduction before you receive a tummy tuck or lower body lift. Again, as with all aspects of a Mommy Makeover, there really are very few limitations. Determining the appropriate timeline and order of treatment will be an important component of your pre-surgery consultations.
Recovery time from a Mommy Makeover will vary, depending on the number and type of procedures you choose to include. You can read more about the specific recovery time for each of the procedures mentioned above, but in general, you should plan to be out of commission for at least several weeks. This can be difficult for mothers of young children, so you may need to find childcare during this time.
On the day of your makeover, you will need someone to drive you home from the hospital or surgical center. You will typically feel quite groggy, and you will experience some swelling and discomfort. Inflammation and irritation will typically dissipate by the end of the first week. During this time, you should get plenty of rest, but you should also walk around the house several times a day. This stimulates blood flow, promotes healing, and prevents blood clots from forming. You will usually return to the doctor after about five days to have your drainage tubes removed. Stitches typically come out in seven to ten days. You may also have several additional post-surgical checkups with your doctor.
In most cases, you can return to work and a modified daily routine within two weeks of your Mommy Makeover, although it may take longer if you received a particularly extensive treatment, such as a lower body lift. You should continue to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for several more weeks, or until otherwise instructed by your surgeon. Most patients can return to the gym or a regular exercise routine in four to six weeks.
Swelling is to be expected, and it will gradually subside over the next weeks and months. Although you will typically start to notice the results of your treatment after two or three weeks, it may take several months for your body to permanently settle into its new, trimmer shape.
Besides rest, there are several things you can do to ensure a faster recovery and reduce your risk for post-surgical side effects:
- Wear compression garments: Most doctors will ask you to wear a compression garment or bandages over the treatment area for a specified amount of time. These devices help to reduce swelling and they allow your skin to heal more smoothly around the new contours of your body.
- Take medications: Following surgery, your doctor may prescribe pain medication or recommend over-the-counter drugs. It is important to finish any prescriptions and to take all medication as directed. At the same time, certain medications and nutrition supplements, including blood thinners and Vitamin E, can increase your risk for complications. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications before your surgery, so that he or she can make changes to your prescriptions, as needed.
- Stop smoking: Smoking restricts blood flow and, thus, prevents oxygen from reaching your incision sites. Smokers typically have a slower recovery, a higher risk for complications, and more visible scars. You should stop smoking for at least two weeks before and two weeks after your treatment, although a complete cessation is, of course, preferable.
- Eat healthy: Eating a good diet, full of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy will stimulate healing. In addition, healthy eating habits will help you maintain the results of your Mommy Makeover.
Emotional Side Effects
Following a Mommy Makeover, you may experience some depression. You may face significant swelling and extensive recovery time, which can take a toll on your mood and self-confidence. As you recover, however, you should find that your frame of mind lightens and you will start to feel great about your decision to undergo a Mommy Makeover. However, if you continue to feel sad or anxious several weeks after your treatment, you should alert your doctor.
The exact results of your Mommy Makeover will depend on the procedures you choose. In general, however, the treatment will give you a firmer, more contoured, and more youthful body. You should be aware that, while the treatment can restore your figure so that it looks more like it did before your pregnancy, it cannot completely erase the effects of childbirth and nursing. Nevertheless, most women feel much more self-confident after their Mommy Makeovers.
Your doctor will use advanced surgical techniques to minimize scarring as much as possible. However, following a Mommy Makeover you will have some visible marks, particularly if you have a tummy tuck or another extensive procedure. Using certain ointments and creams can stimulate healing and help the scars to fade. Your doctor can often recommend the best topical treatments for your skin type. Additionally, you should avoid direct sun exposure, and use plenty of sunscreen when you go outside.
Maintaining Your Results
With proper care, the results of your Mommy Makeover can last for decades to come. While no surgical procedure can completely stop the effects of time and gravity, you could still enjoy a trimmer and more contoured body for the rest of your life. Diet and exercise are the key to maintaining a healthy weight and a firmer figure. Be sure to limit fat, sugar and sodium and eat plenty of healthy foods, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, dairy, and soy-based protein. Following an exercise routine will not only protect your figure; it will enhance your overall health. For best results, combine cardiovascular activity with strength building exercises and resistance training.
Perhaps the most notable advantage of a Mommy Makeover is that it can effectively target multiple areas of your body - and you can choose the areas that you most want to treat. Following a Mommy Makeover, you could enjoy multiple aesthetic benefits, including:
- A tauter, sleeker figure
- More defined muscle tone
- Elimination of excess skin
- Reduced cellulite and stretch marks
- More supple skin, thanks to enhanced collagen production
- An overall younger appearance
- A figure that more closely resembles your pre-pregnancy body
Although Mommy Makeovers are primarily designed for cosmetic purposes, in some cases, they can have several advantages for your health, as well. First, excess skin can often cause chafing and discomfort. In severe cases, it can even lead to infection. By eliminating these tissues during a tummy tuck or another body sculpting procedure, your surgeon can also reduce health complications. Second, overly large breasts can cause immense discomfort, and because Mommy Makeovers often include breast reduction, you may enjoy a greatly improved quality of life following your treatment. Finally, cosmetic surgery may provide the incentive to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With your trimmer, younger-looking body, you may be more likely to make healthy diet and exercise choices.
Mommy Makeovers can have significant advantages for your psychological health, as well. Following the birth of your baby, you may be immensely self-conscious about your figure. Customized treatment can eliminate the extra skin and fat deposits that you cannot combat with diet and exercise. With your newly enhanced body, you will typically enjoy a greater sense of self-assurance. In turn, this can have untold benefits on your social, professional, and romantic interactions.
Mommy makeovers are very safe treatments. However, because they do combine multiple cosmetic procedures, you will face a slightly higher change of complications than you would if you were undergoing a single surgery. Risks will vary somewhat, depending on the procedure you choose. However, most plastic surgery procedures are subject to the same complications. They include:
- Blood or fat clots
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Hematoma or other fluid accumulation
- Nerve damage
- Unfavorable scarring
- Changes in skin pigmentation
- The need for revision surgery
Minimizing Your Risks
Although the possible complications listed above may sound alarming, they are quite rare, and there are certain things you can do to reduce your risks even further.
First, and most importantly, you should choose a good plastic surgeon, according to the guidelines mentioned above. A doctor who is experienced with Mommy Makeovers and who listens to your concerns and treatment goals is more likely to give you good aesthetic results. Additionally, when you choose a surgeon with multiple accreditations and hospital privileges, you can rest assured that he or she follows proper safety and hygiene protocols, decreasing the change of infection. Second, you should follow your doctor's post-surgical instructions. Getting plenty of rest, taking all medications, and wearing your compression garments can stimulate healing and produce better aesthetic results. Finally, to reduce your chance of blood clots, be sure to walk around the house several times a day during your initial recovery period when you are otherwise sedentary.
Temporary Side Effects
A Mommy Makeover is a major surgical treatment, and, therefore, you can expect some degree of discomfort. The intensity and location of your irritation will depend on the procedures you had done. Less invasive treatments, such as liposuction, will typically cause less discomfort than a lower body lift, and other more extensive procedures. No matter what surgeries you chose to include, your pain can usually be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medication. Although some discomfort is normal, if you experience severe pain, or if the discomfort suddenly gets worse, you should tell your doctor immediately. This could be a sign of infection or another complication.
Bruising and Swelling
Following treatment, you should also expect some bruising and swelling. Bruises typically go away within the first two weeks, and in the meantime, they are usually easy to conceal under your clothes. Swelling will take longer to subside. While the most noticeable effects will typically dissipate with two to four weeks, it may take several months to completely disappear. As it subsides, however, the results of your Mommy Makeover will become more apparent.
Constipation is a relatively common side effect, particularly if you include a tummy tuck or lower body lift in your Mommy Makeover. To alleviate this temporary symptom, be sure to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, and ask your doctor about medications to restore regularity.
Cosmetic surgery is on the rise, particularly among younger women looking to enhance their figures after pregnancy. According to 2012 data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons®:
- 286,274 women underwent breast augmentation
- 179,214 women underwent liposuction
- 102,277 women underwent tummy tucks
- 89,067 women underwent breast lifts
- 42,022 women underwent breast reduction
- 15,136 women underwent upper arm lifts
- 8,439 women underwent thigh lifts
- 6,517 women underwent lower body lifts
Low Complication Rates
One reason for the immense popularity of Mommy Makeovers is that they can achieve outstanding results with very few risks. Of course, complications rates vary slightly for each procedure, but they are all very safe across the board:
- Tummy Tuck complications: According to a study by Kent Higdon and James Grotting, the rate of tummy tuck complications is a low 4.7%. Of these complications, the most common was infection.
- Liposuction: The FDA analyzed several studies regarding the very low risk of death due to liposuction. Although rates varied, they were all quite low, falling between 3 in every 100,000 and 20 to 100 in every 100,000.
- Breast augmentation: The FDA has granted approval to both saline and silicone implants, saying that they will cause no adverse health risks, even in the case of implant rupture.
- Breast reduction: Although there is little specific data regarding breast reduction safety, most doctors and insurance companies consider it a medically necessary treatment, meaning that the benefits far outweigh any risks.
- Breast lift: According to a January 2013 article published by the ASPS, simultaneous breast lift and breast augmentation is just as safe as a single procedure. The study found a complication rate of 23%, but the most common risks were only aesthetic. They included capsular contracture and ptosis (drooping of the breast). According to the study's author, Dr. Michael Bradley Calobrace, women who undergo both procedures at once avoid the complications of multiple surgeries.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I get pregnant again?
If you plan to have more children, you should wait to undergo a Mommy Makeover. Future pregnancy and breast-feeding can re-stretch your skin and undo the results of your surgery. However, if you have an unplanned pregnancy, your prior Mommy Makeover will not threaten your health or your baby's health, nor will it make delivery more difficult.
Can I get a Mommy Makeover if I plan to lose weight?
If you plant to shed just a few pounds, you can have a Mommy Makeover now. On the other hand, if you plan to lose a significant amount of weight, you should hold off on your surgery. Drastic weight loss can leave you with loose skin and muscles that can be tightened over the course of your treatment.
Will I have drainage tubes? How long will I have them?
Depending on your procedures and your surgeon's preferences, you may have drainage tubes placed just under your skin. These tubes will help to eliminate the fluid that can sometimes accumulate after fat or tissue removal. You will need to change and clean these tubes regularly after a certain amount of the fluid has gathered inside. Typically, the tubes will remain in place for about a week. You will need to return to your doctor to have them taken out.
Will I have to wear a compression garment?
Most doctors will ask you to wear compression garments or bandages after your cosmetic surgery. By providing support for the treatment area, these devices help to reduce discomfort when you move. They can also prevent fluid accumulation and help your skin to lie more smoothly over the newly re-contoured muscles. In general, you will wear the garments during the day for two to three weeks, and your doctor may ask you to wear them at night for several weeks more.
Will a Mommy Makeover affect my menstrual cycle?
For the first few months after your surgery, your periods may be irregular. Surgery and anesthesia can often cause your cycles to be a day or two late. However, plastic surgery should not cause lasting changes or chronic irregularity.
Which procedure should I have done first?
Many doctors prefer to combine surgeries as much as possible. Thus, if you want to have both breast augmentation and a tummy tuck at the same time, they will recommend undergoing both treatments at once. Due to health issues or personal preferences, other doctors may recommend having two or more separate treatments. In these cases, you may be able to choose the area you wish to address first, or your doctor may feel that treating one area first will yield better overall results.
How do I know for sure that a Mommy Makeover is right for me?
After doing the necessary research, the only way to determine whether you are a candidate for a Mommy Makeover is to schedule an appointment with an experienced plastic surgeon. Use DocShop's handy search tool and get started on your journey towards your trimmer, pre-pregnancy body.
 2012 Cosmetic Surgery Gender Distribution (America Society of Plastic Surgeons 2012) <http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2012-Plastic-Surgery-Statistics/cosmetic-surgery-females.pdf>
 Higdon, Kent K. and Grotting, James C. "How Safe Is Abdominoplasty in 2010?" <http://meeting.aaps1921.org/abstracts/2011/33.cgi>
 What Are the Risks or Complications? (Food and Drug Administration, 2014) <http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/SurgeryandLifeSupport/Liposuction/ucm256139.htm>
 No Increase in Complications with Simultaneous Versus Staged Procedures . (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2013) < http://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/past-press-releases/2013-archives/combined-breast-lift-and-augmentation-is-safe.html>
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