Mommy makeover is a term used to describe a combination of surgical procedures designed to transform and restore the body image to its pre-pregnancy state. The procedures typically include a breast lift or breast augmentation, or a combination of both, abdominoplasty “tummy tuck” and liposuction. Not every mom should get all of above procedures to get in shape, the treatment is tailored to each patient’s specific needs.
Most Common Areas for Mommy Makeovers
The most common areas for Mommy Makeovers are the breasts and the stomach and waistline. The most common complaints that women have are breast sagging, combined with deflation in the upper breast – as well as excess skin in the stomach area with stretch marks.
Breast changes after pregnancy depend on the original breast size and skin and nipple sagging before pregnancy. Women with large breasts tend to have more sagging after pregnancy. Also, if the nipple is already in a low position on the breast before pregnancy, then it is likely that it will even descend more after pregnancy. Depending on our genes and the way our bodies are built, some women with small to medium sized breasts maintain a good nipple position on the breast. Their main complaint is hollowness and deflation in the upper breast. This is usually corrected with a breast implant alone or a combination of implant and fat grafting.
If there is significant sagging and droopiness of the breast skin and nipple, then the breast has to be re-shaped with a procedure better known as “breast lift”. Breast lift or “mastopexy” re-arranges the breast tissue and tightens the loose skin and re-positions the nipple higher on the breast. The result is a breast with a rounder and more projected shape, and a nipple positioned on the center of the breast. This gives the breast a somewhat fuller shape but does not increase the size or volume of the breast. If more projection and fullness are desired particularly in the upper breast, a breast implant may be added to the procedures to complement the results. This combined procedure is called “augmentation mastopexy”.
Several changes occur in the stomach area after pregnancy. As would be expected, this is where the bulk of pregnancy changes occur as the uterus and baby start pushing against and stretching the abdominal muscles and skin. As a result, the core abdominal muscle sometimes separate in the midline creating weakness in the core body strength and a bulge in the mid abdomen. This is also known as “rectus diastasis”. In addition, excess skin starts developing over the stomach area accompanied by stretch marks and fat deposits. Abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is a surgical procedure that corrects all of the above changes by removing the extra skin, tightening the muscles and sculpting the stomach area to restore the body contour to its original youthful shape prior to pregnancy.
Fat deposits in the waistline and thighs are also common complaints that may develop or worsen after pregnancy. Liposuction with its various forms and techniques is used to remove the excess fat and redefine the body curves. Liposuction is performed to sculpt the abdomen, waistline, buttocks and thighs.
Special Considerations with Mommy Makeovers
One or more of the above surgeries can be performed depending on the goals and image the patient is trying to achieve. Breast and tummy tuck surgery can be done separately or combined. Tummy tuck is almost always combined with liposuction of the abdomen and flanks. When liposuction is performed on several areas including gluteal or buttock sculpting, the removed fat can be used for buttock augmentation.
It is generally advisable that women have completed their families and are not considering future pregnancies before they undergo any mommy makeover procedures.
When a breast lift operation is considered, the biggest challenge I find is for women to accept having scars on their breasts. Depending on the type of breast lift surgery, different types of scars are to be expected the most common of which is a scar around the areola. It is, however, as common to have this scar combined with a vertical one extending from the areola down and a third scar running horizontally along the inframammary fold or the crease underneath the breast. This latter incision is usually hidden very well and is inconspicuous; however, the first two can be quite visible. Scar visibility depends on how patients generally heal; breast scars are more visible in certain patients than others. Although scars are hard to accept, they usually heal very well and the trade off is well worth it.
Recovery depends on the type of procedures performed. Recovery from a full abdominoplasty that sometimes requires muscle tightening can take between 2 and 4 weeks. It is advised that patients take two weeks off work to recover. There is almost always a sense of tightness in the abdomen and at the incision, and it is not unusual for the patient to walk hunched over for 2 weeks after surgery, depending on the degree of skin tightness. Liposuction results in bruising and soreness at the treated areas that will limit activity for the first week. Breast surgery whether augmentation, breast lift or a combination of both requires less recovery time and are associated with less pain than abdominoplasty.