Is A Mommy Makeover Right For You?

Mommy Makeover Right

A mommy makeover is not a mani pedi and a new hairstyle. A mommy makeover is plastic surgery to restore or rejuvenate your body after pregnancy. Pregnancy can cause changes in your body that no amount of exercise or diet can reverse. These changes include sagging breasts, stretch marks, and a bulging belly due to weakened abdominal muscles.

In many cases, plastic surgery can be done as a package deal to rejuvenate multiple post pregnancy problems, thus the term “mommy makeover.” The most common mommy makeover includes a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) along with cosmetic breast surgery, and possibly some liposuction.

Mommy makeover surgery is gaining popularity. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), 62 percent of women would consider a mommy makeover if cost was not an issue. In the hands of a qualified plastic surgeon, a makeover really can restore your body after pregnancy, but these surgeries are not for everyone. Surgery is surgery. You always have to weigh the risks and the benefits.

What Surgeries Are Included in Mommy Makeover?

According to ASPS, procedures included in mommy makeover surgery are:

Some of these are less common than others, and they can’t all be done at the same time. “The number of procedures that can be done in the same operation depends on the health of the patient and the extent of the work that is going to be done. Performing too many procedures at once means a longer operation with more exposure to anesthesia and a longer recovery period,” says Constance M. Chen, MD, clinical assistant professor of plastic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and Tulane University School of Medicine.

“Buttock augmentation is not commonly performed as part of a mommy makeover. Vaginal rejuvenation is gaining in popularity, but it is still not as common as abdominoplasty and breast surgeries. For example, it is common to perform a breast augmentation and abdominoplasty in the same operation. For most people, however, it would be too much to perform an abdominoplasty, breast surgery, buttock augmentation, liposuction, and vaginal rejuvenation,” says Dr. Chen.

Are You a Good Candidate for Mommy Makeover?

You are not a good candidate if you want to have more children. Pregnancy after makeover surgery can reverse all the benefits of the surgery. You are also not a good candidate until you have taken enough time after pregnancy to get back into top shape.

“There is a period of time after childbirth when the woman’s body is re-equilibrating. Depending on how much elasticity is in a patient’s tissues, tissues that have stretched out may contract and resume their previous shape. I would recommend waiting at least three to six months or even a year before thinking about surgery. If a patient was breastfeeding, I would wait at least three to six months or even a year before operating on the breasts,” advises Chen.

Diet and exercise can restore or reduce some of the effects of pregnancy. Once you are back in shape, you may decide that you can live with the results. “That said, if a woman has stretch marks, it is an indication that the dermis is damaged and the skin will not fully contract. Likewise, if a woman has a bulge between her abdominal muscles due to weakening of her fascia, there is no amount of diet or exercise that will make the bulge disappear. In these cases, the only way to eliminate stretch marks and the bulge is by surgically resecting the skin and repairing the abdominal fascia and muscles. Even so, it is best to wait to allow the body to reach a stable state before undergoing surgery,” says Chen.

What Are the Surgeries and the Risks?

These surgeries are generally safe. But all surgeries have risks. You will have some risk from anesthesia. Anesthesia may include general anesthesia or local anesthesia injections with intravenous sedation. General anesthesia has more risk than local. Common risks of all these surgeries include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Poor healing
  • Scarring
  • Persistent pain
  • Blood clot
  • Heart and lung problems (from anesthesia or a blood clot)

All mommy makeover surgeries are different and they have their own risks. Let’s take a brief look at each one:

  • Breast augmentation surgery usually involves placing breast implants. This can restore breast volume and give you a better breast shape. You may need a breast lift if you have sagging breasts. These procedures can be done together. Breast implants are not dangerous for your health, but they can leak or rupture. There is a risk that you will lose some nipple or breast sensation.
  • Buttock augmentation may involve placing a butt implant or transferring some fat from another part of your body to your butt. This surgery improves the shape of your butt. Implants can rupture or move out of place. They may also put pressure on your sciatic nerve and cause leg pain.
  • Liposuction can be used to remove excess fat from thighs, butt, belly, and other areas. It will not improve loose saggy skin or cellulite. You may have some numbness of your skin or color changes. Your skin may look rippled or lumpy.
  • Tummy tuck can remove excess skin and fat. It can also tighten up your abdominal muscles. Stretch marks can be removed. Tummy tuck is not the same as weight loss surgery. If you gain weight after surgery, it will still settle in your belly area.
  • Vaginal rejuvenation surgery tightens a loose vagina and may remove excess labial tissue. Some women find that the labia of their vagina become too lose. Labia can twist and tug, cause pain during intercourse, or fall out of a bathing suit or underwear. You may need to avoid tampons and intercourse for four to six weeks after surgery. The main risk is over correction, which may cause dryness and pain during intercourse.

Before Surgery

If all systems are go and you still think you are a candidate for a mommy makeover, you want to start by finding a qualified plastic surgeon who has experience with these procedures. You will need to go over all the risks and benefits carefully.

“A consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon is critical to determine if you are a good candidate, to decide on the right procedures for you, and to get all your questions answered. The path to board certification is quite challenging, so if a plastic surgeon is board certified it is a good indication that your surgeon has been rigorously examined and judged as qualified. Make sure your surgeon makes you feel comfortable is responsive to your concerns, and is patient in answering your questions,” says Chen.

Before scheduling surgery, you will need to tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications. You may need to lose some weight. If you smoke, you will need to stop. Pre-operative preparation is very important.

“Think of surgery the same way a runner thinks about training for a marathon. The risks are lowered with proper training. Women who maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise tend to have a much easier time after surgery. Smoking is a contraindication to elective surgery, because a smoker dramatically increases her risk of wound healing problems. Most surgeons will not perform surgery on active smokers. Obesity also increases risk of complications, so a woman should try to be at her ideal weight to gain maximum benefits and minimize her risks. Finally, diabetics should have their glucose well-controlled, because uncontrolled diabetes makes it difficult for a woman to heal a wound and will also dramatically increase the risk of postoperative complications,” says Chen.

After Surgery

Depending on the type of surgery you have, you will need to allow for recovery time. The time to think about this is before surgery, so talk to your surgeon. Make sure you have a clear answer to these questions:

  • What kinds of dressings will you have and how will you care for them?
  • Will you need medication for pain?
  • When can you bathe or shower?
  • When will you need to see your surgeon for follow up visit? Will you need to come back to have drains or sutures removed?
  • What kind of scars should you expect?
  • When can you return to normal activities? Will you need help caring for young children for a while?
  • What symptoms should you call your surgeon about?
  • How long will the results of your surgery last?

And Finally, the Cost

A good plastic surgeon can do wonders for your body and for your self-image. You really can feel like a new woman. No wonder most women would consider mommy makeover if they could afford it. The cost depends on what you have done and who does it. These surgeries are usually elective (not medically necessary), so they are rarely covered by insurance.

The cost includes fees for surgery, anesthesia, hospital costs, medication, and dressings. Implants are additional costs. You could easily get up into the range of $10,000 to $20,000 for a combined procedure. If you don’t have access to this kind of cash or credit, ask your surgeon about a payment plan.

“The procedures are usually but not always elective. For example, a woman who is seeking a breast reduction may meet specific criteria for insurance coverage that varies with every insurance plan. Likewise, a woman who has a hernia after pregnancy should be able to get her hernia repair covered. Most insurance companies consider the majority of mommy makeover procedures cosmetic and elective, so many procedures are not covered by insurance. Many plastic surgeons do offer payment plans, such as CareCredit, that patients can apply for to cover their procedures,” says Chen.

So there you have it, the risks and the benefits. Only you and your surgeon can decide if a mommy makeover is right for you. You can find a board-certified plastic surgeon at https://find.plasticsurgery.org.

And one final thought, if you decide to have your makeover, do it for yourself. Plastic surgery should never be done to make someone else feel better about you. Do it to feel better about yourself.

Christopher Iliades
Dr. Chris Iliades is a medical doctor with 20 years of experience in clinical medicine and clinical research. Chris has been a full time medical writer and journalist since 2004. His byline appears in over 1,000 articles online including EverydayHealth, The Clinical Advisor, and Healthgrades. He has also written for print media including Cruising World Magazine, MD News, and The Johns Hopkins Children's Center Magazine. Chris lives with his wife and close to his three children and four grandchildren in the Boston area.

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