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I often hear from women who want to know how best to rejuvenate their bodies and get back to feeling as strong and vibrant as they did before they had children. Many of my patients are wondering if now is a good time for the so-called “mommy makeover,” a concept that has gotten lots of buzz in recent years. Most of these women are not looking for a “makeover,” however; they are simply looking to turn the clock back a little bit on the bodies that they already have.
In order to decide if this set of restorative surgeries could be a good fit for you, here are answers to some of the questions I’m asked most commonly by my potential patients.
What is the “mommy makeover”?
There isn’t one specific set of surgeries that are always performed as part of a mommy makeover. Rather, it is typically some combination of operations, done in sequence, which focus on improving the appearance of a woman’s abdomen and breasts—the two areas of the body that bear the brunt of the “damage” from pregnancy, postpartum recovery and breastfeeding.
Common surgeries in a mommy makeover include the following:
- Abdominoplasty: Also known as a “tummy tuck,” this is done to remove excess skin, typically of the lower abdomen, as well as repair the rectus (or “six-pack”) muscles that often separate during pregnancy. Abdominoplasty helps to make the abdomen appear flatter and firmer.
- Breast surgery: To combat the breast deflation or “drooping” (ptosis) that is a normal part of the body’s post-pregnancy progression, many women seek restorative breast surgery, including breast implants (ideal for women experiencing mild breast sagging or desiring more volume) or a mastopexy (commonly known as a breast lift) to improve the appearance of the breasts. Some patients need a combination of both a breast lift and an implant.
- Liposuction: This surgery removes fat from specific areas of the body including the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks, arms, or neck.
Am I an ideal candidate for a mommy makeover?
Most of my patients come in with an idea of what areas they would like to target for improvement. However, not every mom is an ideal candidate for these procedures. Abdominal surgeries, breast surgeries, and liposuction are best for women who:
- Are in generally good health and close to their ideal pre-baby weight. It’s important to understand that these are not weight-loss surgeries; if you are still working toward losing significant weight, it’s probably not yet the right time for a mommy makeover.
- Are not planning any future pregnancies. You don’t want to invest the time and money into surgeries if you are planning to have more children.
- Will not be picking up and carrying young children around frequently. I recommend my patients wait until their youngest child is at least 18 months old before having surgery. This way the child is old enough where Mom will be able to recover from surgery more easily and not have to worry about lifting them during the first few weeks post-op.
- (For breast surgeries) Have finished breastfeeding for at least one year. This is a rule in my practice. Your milk ducts still retain a lot of fluid for a long time and that can complicate a breast surgery.
- No nicotine use, as this adversely affects healing.
What should I expect for surgery and recovery?
Of all the common mommy makeover procedures, the abdominoplasty requires the most significant downtime. You’ll need about 4-6 weeks to heal. However, you will be able to go home the night of surgery and you will soon be up and able to move around without much difficulty. You’ll need to wear post-operative compression garments and you’ll have some drains to take care of for a week or so, but you’re definitely not incapacitated. Breast-surgery patients can expect an easier recovery. My breast patients probably take two weeks off from work after their surgery, but during the recovery time they are home with their families and living their daily life without too much disruption.
Are the surgeries done on a specific timeline?
With some very select patients, you can combine the procedures and do them at the same time, but my preference is to do the abdominal and breast surgeries in two different operations, separated by a minimum of six months.
What are the risks?
As with any surgery, the mommy makeover procedures carry certain risks, including:
- Fluid build-up
- Risk of blood clots, including DVTs and pulmonary embolisms. This risk is slightly higher with abdominoplasty than with other plastic surgeries, so we try to mitigate by giving patients medications that prevent blood clots.
- Breast surgery can affect your future ability to breastfeed and your nipple sensitivity
The best risk prevention is making sure that you’re always seen by a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who operates in an accredited facility with licensed anesthesiologists.