Pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding can have lasting effects on a woman’s body. Changes can include stretch marks, loose skin and sagging breasts. Many women are often disappointed or self-conscious of their post-baby physique and seek out a combination of cosmetic procedures to help improve their appearance. It’s a decision that now has a trendy name: the mommy makeover.
“The term ‘mommy makeover’ has become popular over the past several years but is really not a new approach to post-pregnancy revision surgery,” says Dr. Tim R. Love, a plastic surgeon and owner of Tim R. Love Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery in Oklahoma City. “The popularity and familiarity of the term has undoubtedly increased the number of women seeking out improvement in their post-pregnancy body condition.”
He adds that although each patient is unique, the individual procedures within a makeover can include breast enhancement (augmentation, augmentation/lift, lift or reduction), tummy tuck and liposuction.
“Although not a requirement, it is wise for a patient to be finished with having children when considering any component of a ‘mommy makeover’ surgery,” says Dr. Love. “We also advise patients to wait until they are as near their ideal weight as possible, post-pregnancy, to ensure that they receive the optimum benefit from surgery.”
Dr. Angelo Cuzalina, a cosmetic surgeon and owner of Tulsa Surgical Arts, shares that ideally, a woman should wait until she has no plans for more children and has completely stopped breastfeeding for at least three months. In addition, depending on what procedures are chosen, women have the option of having their surgeries at the same time.
“The majority of women choose to do all the procedures at the same time for multiple reasons such as lower cost, one anesthesia, less time off work and convenience,” says Dr. Cuzalina. “The key is to make sure they are healthy enough for a simultaneous operation. The classic ‘mommy makeover’ at my office is simultaneous breast lift (mastopexy) and augmentation (implants), full abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and typically associated liposuction of the waist, hips and pubis. The two additional procedures we also perform on specific patients are labiaplasty and/or vaginalplasty for women who also want excess labial minora reduced or to tighten their vaginal canal, especially if they had tears or an episiotomy.”
According to Dr. Cuzalina, a nonsurgical procedure that women may also choose to add to their makeover experience is a ThermiVa treatment. ThermiVa uses radiofrequency to treat internal and external anatomical features of the vagina.
Tummy tuck and liposuction patients must understand that neither procedure is intended to be a weight loss tool,” says Dr. Love. “Therefore, patients must be diligent to adopt healthy eating and exercise regimens to maintain their investment.”
“You can be in shape but if you have loose skin, you have loose skin. Working out five times a day for five days a week isn’t going to change it,” says Dr. Mathers. “For moms, I tell them to be at the weight they are comfortable with and then afterward, don’t plan on losing more than five to 10 pounds at the most. The last thing you want to do is have cosmetic surgery and then lose weight because you take away from what’s been done—especially with a breast lift. If you have a breast lift and then lose 15 pounds, it’s probably going to affect your breast lift more than, perhaps, an abdominoplasty. I can only do so much. If you lose weight and have a healthy lifestyle it’s going to compliment any procedures you’ve had done.”
Dr. Mathers emphasizes the importance for individuals to research their options before choosing a surgeon and notes that he uses pictures of patients he has operated on, instead of industry photos, to show patients potential results.
“I spend a lot of time with my patients discussing realistic expectations. We discuss what they want, what procedures we are going to do to accomplish it and then what realistic results we’ll achieve,” says Dr. Mathers. “The biggest problem is getting people to accept the amount of downtime that’s required to successfully recover after surgery. Patients need to have someone to assist them in taking care of their family or other responsibilities during this time.”
As with any surgery, taking the time to fully heal is critical to avoiding possible complications.
“I tell my patients that, on average, they will be extremely sore the first two weeks, generally back to mostly full exercise at six weeks but final shrinkage of all edema can be as long as eight months and scars tend to improve for at least one year,” says Dr. Cuzalina. “Most patients after a ‘mommy makeover’ return to work between 10 to 14 days if they can be on ‘light duty.’ Everyone heals differently and has varying levels of pain tolerance. Plus, if they have areas that heal more slowly than others it can be longer.”
Once a woman has had a makeover, maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle to control weight and stay fit is essential in sustaining their new look.
“Tummy tuck and liposuction patients must understand that neither procedure is intended to be a weight loss tool,” says Dr. Love. “Therefore, patients must be diligent to adopt healthy eating and exercise regimens to maintain their investment.”
Dr. Cuzalina recommends a healthy, low carb diet with exercise to his patients and stresses that gaining weight after liposuction isn’t good for their health since fat deposition can be in other areas like the intestines, liver or heart.
“But, the good news is the opposite is true, in that if they lose a little weight after a ‘mommy makeover’ the fat proportionally can now burn more off the same critical areas (intra-abdominal regions),” says Dr. Cuzalina.