Some people (both men and women) think of the post-pregnancy period as a time of saggy breasts, big bellies, varicose veins, stretch marks, and more. In response to their concern, a new phenomenon has evolved: the “mommy makeover.” A mommy makeover consists of a combination of cosmetic and surgical procedures intended to reproduce the before-pregnancy appearance. These may include a tummy tuck, breast lift, breast augmentation or reduction, and liposuction of the legs, arms or belly. Some women would go a long way to restore their pre-pregnancy look, often placing themselves at risk of physical harm and financial loss.
Moms who plan to have a makeover often state that they want a firm bust, a flat tummy, and, overall, to look young again. In some cases, they do not realize that they may get pregnant again or gain weight due to poor diet or lack of exercise, reversing the effects of the makeover. Also, some procedures need ongoing surgeries. More importantly, the procedures offered in a “makeover” are not exempt from risks. They include wound healing, bleeding, infection, and seroma (fluid collection) formation.
Let’s briefly review some of the procedures:
Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
This procedure removes loose, excess skin and fat and tightens slack fascia. It is intended to remove stretch marks and excess skin in the lower abdomen below the belly button. To accomplish this, the surgeon removes most of the skin and fat between the belly button and pubic hair in a horizontal oval or elliptical shape. Then the tissues above the abdominal muscles are tightened with sutures. Note: if you plan to have more children in the near future, wait until you are done before you get a tummy tuck. The final result may not be as good if the tissues are stretched again with another pregnancy.
Liposuction intends to improve the shape of the hips and thighs. Surgeons can also perform liposuction on the chest, neck, upper arms, and knees. The procedure involves removing the fat under local anesthesia. It is called liposuction because a thin, hollow rod (cannula) is inserted through the incision to create tunnels through the fat. Then suction forces the fat into the cannula and out a high-vacuum hose.
Breast lift (mastopexy)
This procedure treats sagging and uneven breasts, decreased breast volume, drooping nipples, and stretched areolas. The mother is usually asleep under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes incisions on the breasts and surgically removes excess fat, glandular tissue, and skin. The nipple is repositioned to look natural and the areola is reduced in size, if desired.
Who should perform the procedure?
Since these procedures carry serious risks, it is highly recommended to select a board-certified surgeon. Do not even attempt to consult with someone who is not a board-certified surgeon! The overall complication rate is small if the operation is performed by an experienced plastic surgeon operating in an accredited facility.
Bear in mind that these procedures are expensive and, in general, they are not covered by medical insurance. They can be painful and take up to one month for a full recovery, although you should be up and walking slowly the day after surgery. Before surgery, make sure you tell your doctor of any medical condition or drug allergy you have. Your surgeon will provide thorough preoperative instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history, and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery. Your doctor will also discuss with you the specific risks of the procedures.
How much does a surgical procedure cost?
Cost varies by location and consists of three components: professional fee for the surgeon, professional fee for anesthesia, and the cost of the operating room. To give you an approximate idea, one surgeon charges $7,000 to $8,000 for a breast augmentation using saline implants. Silicone adds another $1,000. He bills $9,000 to $10,000 for a tummy tuck, and $3,000 per area for liposuction.
Some questions you may want to ask your surgeon
- Am I a good candidate for a mommy makeover?
- Are the results I am seeking reasonable and realistic?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for the procedure I am undergoing?
- Where will my scars be located?
- What kind of anesthesia do you recommend for me?
- What will be the costs associated with my surgery?
- What will you expect of me in order to achieve the best results?
- What kind of recovery period can I expect and when can I resume normal activities?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- What are my options if the cosmetic outcome of my surgery does not meet the goals we agreed on?
A final thought
It is important to recognize that the makeover will not be a permanent solution if you do not reverse your bad eating habits, lack of physical exercise, and your (over) weight problem. Other harmful behaviors, such as smoking and heavy alcohol drinking, should stop as well. And remember, being a healthy mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually mother is much more important than trying to improve your physical appearance with a quick fix.