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Planning a Mommy Makeover

Planning a Mommy Makeover


There were nearly four million live births in the United States in 2013. Childbirth offers a wealth of rewards, but it also takes a tremendous toll on the body. Pregnancy always involves a degree of weight gain, which can result in retained fat deposits after childbirth and a compromise in the elasticity of the skin. The breasts increase in size during breast feeding, and this can cause them to sag and lose their youthful shape when lactation ends. Childbirth causes the greatest changes in the abdomen. The abdominal muscles can become separated, skin can stretch and sag, and the lingering effects can generally change a woman's figure in ways that make her feel less confident about her appearance.

Fortunately, modern plastic surgery can help mothers to look as young as they feel, and research shows that many mothers are taking advantage of these new possibilities. A study by global information services group Wolters Kluwer Health found that among 40 women undergoing abdominplasty, half were between the ages of 35 and 44, and that the patients between the ages of 35 and 54 had twice as many pregnancies.

"Mommy makeover" is a term that has become common in today's plastic surgery lexicon, and it describes a special approach to body contouring that caters to mothers who wish to restore a youthful, flattering figure. With the technology and techniques available today, this procedure is better than ever, and helps many women experience renewed confidence during motherhood. A mommy makeover can include virtually any combination of treatments deemed necessary to help the patient achieve her goals, but the most commonly combined treatments include liposuction, lift procedures focused on the trunk and limbs, and breast enhancement.

A mommy makeover is a fully customized treatment tailored precisely to a mother's goals. If you are considering this popular treatment, thorough planning is the absolute best way to achieve beautiful results and long-term satisfaction. Though you may not have the expertise to know precisely which procedures you want, it helps to have specific ideas of what you hope to accomplish. By describing these goals to your surgeon, he or she can recommend the right combination and extent of treatments to help you look and feel your very best.

You should also spend ample time thinking about whether you wish to have more children in the future. In most cases, a mommy makeover provides the best long-term results for women who do not wish to have any more children.

Spend plenty of time researching surgeons in your area, gathering as many word-of-mouth recommendations as possible, scheduling consultations with several prospective surgeons, and closely analyzing the results those surgeons have provided for other patients. A mommy makeover can help you experience even greater satisfaction in life as a mother, and you owe it to yourself to plan a treatment that can help you feel confident, attractive, and youthful.

Your Consultation: Establishing Your Goals and Receiving Expert Recommendations

You should schedule consultations with two or three surgeons before making a final decision. If you have friends who have undergone this procedure and achieved satisfying results, consider meeting with their surgeons. As you browse practices near you, take a look at prospective surgeons' credentials, reviews, and examples of the results they have provided for others. If your surgeon is certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, for example, this means he or she trained specifically in plastic surgery for at least six years following medical school, and that half that time was spent in a residency.

Make certain that the surgeon is especially adept at body contouring, liposuction and breast augmentation. It is very important that you feel comfortable with your surgeon. He or she should take plenty of time to note your goals, review your health history and current health, and provide you with plenty of options.

As you browse practices near you, take a look at prospective surgeons' credentials, reviews, and examples of the results they have provided for others

The women who approach my practice have experienced changes in their body as a result of childbirth, and they want to enhance their figures. Most commonly, they have had their children, and plan to have no more. It is acceptable to move ahead even if further family is being considered, but it may limit the scope of treatment.

By the time we sit down the the consult, the patent can tell me exactly what they wish to accomplish through a mommy makeover. In many other cases, the patient will come in with one idea of a procedure they believe would help them meet their goals, and I will recommend other treatments I believe would complement that treatment for further enhanced results. During my consultations, I spend time creating digital 3D imaging using high-quality standardized photography, especially for the breasts. One of the most important tools I use is a full-length mirror, which allows us to look at all angles necessary, so the patient can more thoroughly explain her goals and help me to make recommendations. After a comprehensive evaluation, I provide a range of options, and they select procedures a la carte from that menu.

It can be very helpful if patients have pictures of models or celebrities to give me an idea of the features they wish to achieve. I would advise anyone considering a mommy makeover to gather visual reference points like this to help their surgeon gain a better understanding of their goals.

Of course, not every woman's goals are cosmetic. Following her pregnancy, my patient Patty had very large breasts that made activities like riding horses and jogging extremely difficult. She enjoys leading an active lifestyle, and during our consultation, she explained that wanted to be unencumbered by the physical changes she experienced as a result of pregnancy.

"I guess my pregnancy just did not treat me well," Patty said. "I thought it was time to do something about it. Now I am able to do things physically that I was not able to do prior. I have been a lot more physically active, and I have a lot more self-confidence."

Establishing Expectations

The important next step in planning a mommy makeover is establishing realistic expectations. While modern cosmetic surgery is capable of providing incredible results, it has its limitations. My approach to a mommy makeover has as much to do with expectations as reality.

You and your surgeon have to discuss what is likely to be accomplished. You must realize that the surgeon does not always know for certain what is going to happen in terms of shape and proportions. The best thing you can do is choose a surgeon whose judgement you trust, and depend on him or her to do their absolute best in achieving your goals. Your surgeon may actually be able to exceed your expectations, but you should be willing to undergo some additional work if necessary.

Choosing the Necessary Treatments

A crucial step in planning your mommy makeover involves deciding which treatments to combine. The most common treatments performed during a mommy makeover include:

  • Breast Augmentation and Breast Lift: Throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, the breasts can experience a drastic increase in size that subsides once lactation has ceased. The skin of the breast can become stretched during this time, resulting in sagging and an overall loss of youthful contour. By combining a breast augmentation and a breast lift, I can restore a youthful and perky contour to the breast. I remove excess skin and tissue, while adding projection by placing a breast implant. Patients must choose either a silicone or saline implant, choose an implant size, and decide whether it should be placed above or below the pectoral muscle. Each of these options has unique benefits. For example, while many patients believe that silicone implants provide the most natural look and feel, others are more comfortable with saline implants because they carry a reduced risk of capsular contracture (the tightening of scar tissue surrounding the implant, resulting in a distorted shape).
  • Abdominoplasty: During pregnancy and childbirth, the midsection experiences the greatest fluctuations. The considerable strain placed on the skin as the fetus develops can not only result in sagging skin and a loss of definition, but also a separation of the abdominal muscles, a condition called diastasis recti. This condition is quite common; the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy reports that of 467 women surveyed, 68 percent experienced separation above the navel, while 32 percent had separation below. Abdominoplasty, or a tummy tuck, is a process of removing excess skin, using liposuction to remove excess fat, and tightening the abdominal muscles to restore a fit, lean midsection. A tummy tuck can be limited (focusing on the lower abdomen and involving some skin and fat removal as well as abdominal tightening), moderate (involving a greater degree of skin and tissue removal), or extended (involving a greater degree of liposuction extending into the flanks, or love handles).
  • Liposuction: Stubborn fat deposits that developed during pregnancy and refuse to respond to diet and exercise can be eliminated through liposuction. Your surgeon will create tiny incisions in the treatment area, and use a special tool called a cannula to gently suction the fat from beneath the skin. I personally use a system called VASERlipoTM that incorporates ultrasound waves to liquefy the fat before it is removed, providing more predictable results. Extracting fat using this method is an especially effective approach if the patient wishes to undergo a fat transfer.
  • Fat Transfer: There is a movement toward adding fat to augment certain features, such as the breasts, buttocks, and face. Fat transfer can be a great way to achieve leaner contours in one area, enhance contours in another, and eliminate risks such as rejection that can accompany the use of synthetic implants. In some cases, fat transfer can also be a great complement to implants.

Your doctor will provide you with options, and explain the benefits and risks of combining certain treatments. While most patients would prefer to have the full extent of their treatment carried out in a single surgical session, this may not always be advisable.

Phasing Treatment

You and your surgeon must decide if the full scope of treatment can be safely and realistically performed in one treatment, or if carrying out your treatment in phases is a better option.

About 75 percent of the time, I can satisfy the patient's expectations in a single stage

Some surgeons feel confident carrying out very complex procedures, while others don't want to go beyond performing one treatment at a time. In my efforts to serve patients as comprehensively as possible, I have learned when to avoid overly complex operations that carry high risks. I'm aware of situations such as a patient being over age 50, overweight, or diagnosed with medical conditions, when an extensive procedure is not advisable.

About 75 percent of the time, I can satisfy the patient's expectations in a single stage, including treatments involving work in the upper and lower body. An example of a complete package I often perform in a single stage would include breast reshaping with implants, a breast lift, abdominoplasty, and liposuction.

Because of my experience in total body contouring, my in-house team and I are able to perform a number of treatments simultaneously in a few hours of a working day. Increasingly, I have found that I can combine more treatments with liposuction for strikingly attractive results. In total, four to five hours is usually enough time to carry out the full scope of treatment.

Where Will Surgery Take Place?

Many surgeons, including myself, have their own surgical suite. If the patient requires extensive liposuction, or if they have conditions such as diabetes or another chronic illness, I may recommend that we perform the procedure in a hospital. In this setting, there are more resources available to address any complications.


General anesthesia, or complete sedation, will be necessary during your mommy makeover surgery. While local anesthesia (the numbing of the treatment site) is sufficient for some standalone procedures, the extensive nature of this surgery requires general anesthesia to ensure your comfort throughout treatment. In some cases, you will have a choice of having anesthesia administered either by a nurse or an anesthesiologist.

I have found that in many cases, nurse-administered anesthesia is a safe option that comes at a lower cost. However, patients who are diabetic, have high blood pressure, or suffer from other conditions that place them at a higher risk of blood loss are well advised to spend the extra money to have an anesthesiologist on hand. For some patients, an anesthesiologist simply provides greater peace of mind. While consulting with surgeons, find out exactly which anesthesia options are available, be upfront about your health and your concerns, and make a choice based on your surgeon's recommendation.

Determining Financing

Before proceeding with surgery, you will need to choose a financing option. A mommy makeover is a predominantly cosmetic procedure, but in some instances, portions of the procedure may be eligible for insurance coverage. This can include the removal of excess skin that causes rashes and discomfort, and a breast reduction to relieve back pain and others symptoms. However, it is important to understand that insurance will cover only the amount of treatment needed to relieve symptoms, and if you are seeking more comprehensive treatment, you can expect to pay out pocket to achieve the aesthetic enhancement you desire. Practices always accept cash and credit cards. Many work with third-party financing companies, or finance procedures internally. If you choose to finance your surgery or use a credit card, make certain that you understand your obligations, and plan carefully to be certain you can make your scheduled payments.

Recovery Time

The planning and anticipation of a mommy makeover can be very exciting, but it is important to consider the weeks of recovery time you will likely require following surgery. When combining several body contouring procedures, it can often require twice as much recovery time as a single procedure. Four to six weeks of downtime is definitely not uncommon. Checkups will be necessary during that time, and your surgeon may recommend additional treatments to aid in recovery. I often include VelaShapeTM therapy, which uses ultrasound to improve drainage and reduce swelling. In total, this treatment can reduce your overall recovery time and discomfort, as well as your risk of needing a revision surgery.

Depending upon the extent of your treatment, you will probably need help for three to four days to a week to get around the house and carry out everyday tasks. If you work, you should definitely try and save up as much vacation time as possible leading up to your surgery. If possible, you may wish to speak to your employer about working from home. If you have very young children, it may also be a great benefit to you and your family to arrange for childcare during your recovery.

Of course, many patients wonder: How long until I can show off the results of my mommy makeover? The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery reports that most patients who undergo a tummy tuck as part of their mommy makeover can expect to enjoy their new figures within two to three months of surgery.

Planning for Long-term Emotional and Aesthetic Satisfaction

Careful planning of a mommy makeover can help you enjoy a calm and comfortable experience from your initial consultation until the time you have fully recovered. Audition several surgeons, ask plenty of questions so you can make informed choices about your treatments, and make the necessary arrangements so that your recovery time is relaxing. With proper planning, your mommy makeover can make parenthood even more enjoyable.

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