Most moms feel unhappy with the way their bodies look after pregnancy. And an increasing percentage of this group of women is considering plastic surgery for improved physical appearance after childbirth.
Reports suggest that in the previous five years, “mommy makeovers” have gained immense popularity. This term basically refers to a package of different surgeries such as liposuction, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and breast lift.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recently released data which showed a 4 percent increase in breast augmentation procedures and a 6 percent increase in liposuction procedures from the previous year (2016). The results of another survey done by the same organization reveal that 62% of mothers would happily undergo cosmetic surgery if there weren’t any budget limitations.
The basics of a Mommy Makeover
A mommy makeover can be defined as a combination of different cosmetic procedures that helps in restoring your pre-pregnancy appearance. The focus of a mommy makeover is usually on the abdomen and the breasts. Hence, some of the typical procedures included in a mommy makeover are breast augmentation (reduction or lift), liposuction of the trunk, arms or legs, and tummy tuck.
While “mommy makeover” might be a relatively new term, the procedures that are performed as part of the package have quite a safe and successful track record.
The ultimate goal of such a plastic surgery is to boost the self-esteem and self-confidence of a new mom. Several women feel dissatisfied with the natural changes that occur to their body after pregnancy. A mommy makeover is helpful in addressing the most commonly affected parts of the body including the abdomen, buttocks, genitalia, breasts, and waist. There are numerous techniques for performing a mommy makeover and the choice of technique typically depends on the following factors:
- The extent of restoration desired
- Implant type used
- Incision placement
- Here are some of the main reasons why women consider a mommy makeover after childbirth:
- The pregnancy has had a negative effect on the shape and size of breasts
- The isolated fat pockets in the waist, thighs, arms or abdominal area fail to respond to exercise and diet
- Stretch marks and a sagging tummy are a cause of emotional distress
There are some other treatments which might be combined with a mommy makeover if recommended by the plastic surgeon. These include cellulite treatments, skin tightening treatments, and stretch mark reduction.
Pregnancy can put a lot of stress on your midsection. The size and shape of your stomach also change with natural aging and weight gain/loss. Sometimes, exercise and diet fail to offer the desired results when it comes to improving the appearance of your stomach. In such cases, a tummy tuck or an ‘abdominoplasty’ can be performed, if thought suitable by your plastic surgeon.
A tummy tuck might be an extensive surgery but it is extremely effective in permanently restoring firmness to your stomach. It works by removing all the loose skin in the abdominal area. During the tummy tuck procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your pubic bone and tighten your abdominal muscles. The scar of the incision heals over a period of time and is usually concealed by an underwear or bathing suit.
Liposuction is helpful in removing small fat pockets that add bulk to your abdomen. After the tightening of muscles, your surgeon will remove the excess skin in the area. Most surgeons attempt to tighten the muscles really well as it allows the stomach to hold its new and improved shape for longer.
The different types of tummy tuck surgeries available to moms include:
- Full abdominoplasty or traditional tummy tuck
- Small incision/scar abdominoplasty or mini tummy tuck
- Reverse tummy tuck (incision runs from breastbone to abdominal area)
- Belt lipectomy or extended tummy tuck
- Non-surgical body shaping (lasers, injectables or liposuction techniques)
Liposuction is also referred to as ‘lipoplasty’. While tummy tucks are successful in narrowing your waist, they do little to change the appearance of your hips. Hence, the procedure of liposuction is used for improving the shape of the hips or flanks after pregnancy. Most surgeons performing a mommy makeover are likely to recommend this procedure in combination with a tummy tuck. It may also be used for improving the appearance of the thighs, upper arms, neck, and chest.
During a liposuction procedure, your surgeon will inject a sterile fluid as well as some local anesthetic in order to minimize pain and discomfort. Epinephrine may also be given for minimizing bleeding.
The administration of anesthesia is followed by the actual process when the surgeon makes tiny incisions around the targeted fat removal area. He/she will use a hollow, thin rod (also called cannula) for inserting through your incision. This will create a tunnel-like structure through which fat can be extracted using suction.
Breast augmentation, also known as ‘boob job’, uses fat transfer techniques or breast implants for enhancing your breast size after pregnancy. This procedure is helpful in restoring lost volume in breasts. The result is an improvement in the breast symmetry and a well-rounded breast shape.
The main benefits of a breast augmentation procedure are:
- Increased projection and fullness of breasts
- Improvement in the balance of hip and breast contours
- Enhanced self-confidence and self-image post pregnancy
In a breast augmentation procedure with implants, the surgeon will make an incision in your breast, lift the underlying tissue and create a pocket-like structure in your breast area. A silicone gel or saline breast implant is placed in this pocket. The placement of the implant may be done beneath the pectoral muscle or beneath the breast tissue (above the pectoral muscle); whatever is deemed suitable by your surgeon.
The breast lift procedure is also called ‘mastopexy’ and is designed for lifting breasts through the removal of excess skin. The procedure also involves tightening of the surrounding breast tissue for reshaping and supporting the new shape of your breasts. A breast lift can also correct an enlarged areola noticed in some women.
A breast lift, as part of the mommy makeover, is helpful in rejuvenating the figure and creating a more uplifted and youthful breast profile. It is natural for your breasts to change over a period of time, especially after pregnancy and breastfeeding. They might lose their original firmness and youthful shape.
The objective of a breast lift surgery is not to modify the breast size or lend a rounder appearance to the breasts. These goals can be achieved when the breast lift surgery is performed in conjunction with the breast augmentation procedure. On the other hand, if you wish to reduce the size of your breasts, you could combine the breast lift surgery with a breast reduction procedure.
Who is a good candidate for a mommy makeover?
As discussed above, the aim of mommy makeovers is to reverse all types of physiological changes that accompany childbearing. You could consider a mommy makeover if you notice any of the following changes in your body after childbirth:
- Uneven breasts, sagging breasts, drooping nipples, stretched areolas and/or reduced breast volume.
- Loose skin around the abdominal area and appearance of stretch marks. Some women also notice that their waistline looks thicker or undefined.
- Increase in the size of the breasts after pregnancy. When breast size is disproportionate to the remaining body, it causes serious problems like back pain.
- The appearance of excess fat in thighs, hips, and the flanks (love-handles).
- The appearance of fat around the surgical scar after a C-section.
- The appearance of early aging signs on the face.
Women who have realistic expectations and enjoy good health are generally good candidates for a mommy makeover procedure.
A word of caution for all women considering a mommy makeover: the procedure is only suitable for those moms who do not wish to have any more children. If you get pregnant after this procedure, you are likely to undo nearly all changes experienced.
Further, breastfeeding can become quite complicated after a breast augmentation procedure done using breast implants. This is especially true for implants inserted through an areola breast incision. Similarly, your tummy might stretch back if you get pregnant post surgery.
What to expect before and after mommy makeover
Depending on the combination of surgeries to be performed, your surgeon will inform you about the total time needed to complete the mommy makeover procedure. On the day of the surgery, you would be given certain medications that will help you feel comfortable throughout the procedure. A common option chosen by surgeons is local anesthesia and sedation. Some doctors might even administer general anesthesia. A nurse anesthetist or anesthesiologist will likely be present for administering general anesthesia (or sedatives) and for assistance and monitoring.