*Individual results may vary
What is a “Mommy Makeover?”
Since motherhood significantly alters two important areas of your body, your breasts and your abdomen, most people think of a “mommy makeover” as a breast augmentation or breast lift and a tummy tuck. The fact is pregnancy induces so many changes all over a woman’s body, and these changes vary considerably from one woman to another.
My definition of the term “mommy makeover” is “any procedure or combination of procedures that will either give you back the body you had prior to having children or give you the body that you always wanted and dreamed of but never had”.
Thinking this way, there is no “mommy makeover surgery.” Instead, it’s a suite of procedures. I think you can even expand this to any woman, not just those who have borne children. Why discriminate??
How Do You Qualify For A Mommy Makeover?
It isn’t particularly difficult to qualify for a mommy makeover. In fact, you can have a mommy makeover even if you have not given birth to children. This term describes a series of procedures performed to address some of the common concerns that occur due to pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, in time, plastic surgeons have learned that many of the same concerns occur as a result of aging.
You may be a good candidate for a mommy makeover if you have multiple areas you would like to improve at once. This is not limited to “breasts and belly.” Your mommy makeover is tailored to your desired outcome and may include facial and body procedures that can help you feel amazing all the time. As with all plastic surgery, it is essential that a patient is in optimal physical and emotional health before making significant changes to their appearance. When breast and abdominal procedures are involved, timing is also a matter of importance. Dr. Mark Epstein has performed many mommy makeover procedures. He takes time to understand where each patient is at both physically and emotionally and he makes recommendations accordingly.
How pregnancy affects your body
The strategies behind your mommy makeover procedures depend on how your body responds to pregnancy and the changes that occur after delivery. By looking closely at pregnancy and your body, you can more carefully ruminate on mommy makeover options.
A woman’s breasts usually get larger as they get ready to lactate and then smaller after lactation ceases, oftentimes leaving the breasts with less volume, reduced firmness and more skin than before pregnancy.
These changes occur to differing degrees in various women, and the breast’s ability to recover from these alterations also varies from woman to woman. Breasts are of many different sizes and shapes. To begin with, women need options when it comes to breast rejuvenation.
Sometimes, a woman just requires some extra volume to rejuvenate her breasts (breast augmentation). Still, sometimes, all that extra skin leaves the breast very underfilled and sagging, thus resulting in requests for a breast lift or breast augmentation and a lift. Other women who are perhaps well endowed in this area, to begin with, find themselves maybe even larger after pregnancy, or now the breasts are not as perky and are heavy and sagging, thus needing a reduction in size.
Before getting into abdominal procedures, like a tummy tuck, let’s first understand what is happening.
The abdomen is an area that is a great cause of concern for many of my patients. As pregnancy progresses, both the wombs enlarge, and various hormones are released to ready the mother’s body for the upcoming big day.
These hormones relax ligaments and other elastic tissue to make a miracle happen – the delivery of her child! The problem is that as the abdominal wall is massively stretched and the abdominal skin follows similarly, they usually do not revert to their pre-pregnancy dimensions and tissue quality after the blessed event is over.
The abdominal muscles, while stretched, are not the real culprit here. There is a layer of thin, strong connective tissue called “fascia” that envelopes the abdominal wall muscles, especially on the anterior or front side of them. This tissue stretches during pregnancy under the influence of hormonal changes and enlarging the uterus.
The result is the abdominal muscles, particularly the two vertical muscles in the midline, the rectus abdominus, begin to separate, giving that bulge that won’t go away. The excess abdominal skin that won’t retract adds to the problem.
Also, consider the fact that women tend to carry their excess fat above their abdominal wall (unlike men who tend to carry it inside the abdomen) – this is a good thing because the plastic surgeon can address this fat during an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) or liposuction.
The Lower Body
Lastly, even the genitalia change after pregnancy. The labia minora, the inner lips of the vulva, sometimes enlarge or thicken. This can lead to concerns about appearance, discomfort during intercourse as the skin is pulled inwards, discomfort during certain activities, and irritation in clothing. The procedure to correct this is called a “labiaplasty” (labia meaning “lip”).
Most women are focused on their abdomen. However, as I learned to think more in three dimensions as well as artistically, I began to look at the relationship between the abdomen in front and the flanks in the back, which extend anteriorly (frontwards) as they blend into the lateral (sides) abdomen.
From the back, going from top to bottom, I look for excess fat in the upper outer back, mid-back rolls of skin and fat under the bra strap, and a midline fat pad just above the buttocks. The buttocks should be round but often become square-ish as the upper hip bone area gains fat, the hip joint just below loses volume, and the outer thighs gain fat.
The buttocks look deflated as they lose volume, and its normal convexity flattens. Of course, there are considerable variations in this pattern. Let’s not forget the upper arms and inner thighs as well!
How Soon After Delivery Can You Get A Mommy Makeover?
When you invest time and money to restore your shape after having a child, you understandably want to know that your results will last. For this reason, we recommend that you wait at least six months after childbirth to move forward with your customized mommy makeover.
If you have chosen to breastfeed your infant, you want to wait at least six months after you have stopped breastfeeding to undergo a mommy makeover. There are good reasons for this recommendation, even if you only want a simple breast lift.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding affect the body in multiple ways. It can take up to a year for hormones to regulate after delivery, especially when breastfeeding occurs. As hormones come into balance, you may lose the excess baby weight. Additionally, the skin expansion that occurs during pregnancy is met with gradual retraction.
Depending on how much the skin has stretched during pregnancy, it may take several months for the body to accomplish its fullest extent of retraction. We schedule mommy makeover procedures when the body has done all the corrective work it can do on its own. This way, Dr. Epstein can achieve the very best results.
There are two things to remember. First, you can schedule your first consultation at any point. We can give you an exam, discuss expectations with you, and work with you on a timeline.
Second, the wait after breastfeeding remains important even if you don’t want any breast-related procedures. A tummy tuck, for example, still interacts with stress factors and hormone levels in your body, both of which tie into breastfeeding. This applies to any potential mommy makeover surgery.
My Approach To Rejuvenating A Woman’s Body
I have spent almost thirty years helping women to feel more confident, more comfortable in their own skin by offering them an array of surgical and non-surgical options. The best thing for you to do is think about what bothers you, what you would like to change and how you would like to do so, and then prioritize your choices into those that you wish to do sooner and those that you are more willing to do later. This may be for financial reasons or possibly you desire too many different procedures to have performed at the same time for medical or safety reasons.
You can pick any one or combination of procedures and call it a “mommy makeover”. You don’t even have to be a mommy to have it!!! I have seen just more permutations of these than you can imagine. One of the most interesting combinations recently was a woman who underwent the combination of “otoplasty (ear pinning) and labiaplasty”. With “mommy makeover” anything goes! Anything as long as it is safe.
How Much Weight Do You Lose With This Procedure?
If we told you that you would not lose weight from a mommy makeover, would you still want to have this series of procedures? Because we consult with women about this procedure on a routine basis, the answer leans toward yes.
The purpose of a mommy makeover is not to achieve a number on a scale. It is to achieve contours that look and feel natural across multiple areas of the body. Liposuction can result in a subtle drop in weight, but if you have a goal in mind before plastic surgery, it is beneficial to reach it before you schedule your procedure.
Some procedures, like a tummy tuck, do not intend to change your weight. Others, like breast augmentation, deliberately increase the number you see on a scale. We cannot guarantee a particular weight, but we can confidently say that mommy makeover patients tend to feel incredibly happy with their cosmetic outcomes.
Safety And “Mommy Makeovers”
Safety is first over everything else. This is surgery, not a game. You are placing your life in my hands. I take this very seriously. When combining procedures, it is my job to consider the total amount of surgical and anesthesia time, anticipated recovery from each procedure, discomfort from each procedure, your occupation and how much time you can take off work, what responsibilities you have at home and your family/friends support system. Sometimes, it may be best to break the procedures up into two different surgical dates.
What Are The Benefits Of This Procedure?
A mommy makeover can achieve multiple benefits in a single procedure. Having breasts, belly, thighs, or other areas refined during one surgery minimizes anesthesia time. It minimizes recovery time and it maximizes aesthetic outcome. Physically speaking, a mommy makeover offers benefits including a flatter, tighter midsection and more youthful-looking breasts. The procedure can minimize stretch marks and eliminate a C-section scar. It can reduce thigh circumference and waist circumference.
In achieving these cosmetic improvements, the mommy makeover can give you back a sense of yourself. You may feel confident in yourself because of what your body has accomplished, birthing new life, and also wish to love your shape. This may be the biggest benefit of the mommy makeover. It gives you back You.
What procedures constitute a “Mommy Makeover”?
Here is an array of options to choose from. I have broken the procedures up by region. Many women often choose more than one procedure from each region to undergo simultaneously. This list is by far NOT all-inclusive.
How Painful Is The Procedure?
Performed under general anesthesia, the mommy makeover itself is not painful. General anesthesia blocks all pain signals from the body. Additionally, it has an amnesiac effect, which eliminates memory of the surgery. When we discuss discomfort and concern about pain, patients are usually interested in knowing what to expect during their mommy makeover recovery.
If you have a mommy makeover, you can expect two or more areas of discomfort during the first week or two of recovery. Although many women choose to have a breast procedure performed during their mommy makeover, it is the tummy tuck and liposuction that tend to present the most discomfort. Breast lift and augmentation procedures tend to cause soreness and tenderness and, for some, a sensation of tightness.
Abdominoplasty Discomfort and Recovery
After abdominoplasty, you can expect to be somewhat “bent over” for a week or two. This is due to the tightness of the abdominal muscle. Movement of this muscle, including laughter, may cause soreness. Generally, patients describe the postoperative pain of abdominoplasty as though they had completed a strenuous abdominal workout.
For a mommy makeover, liposuction may be performed in the abdominal area, the thighs, the back, the back of the arms, or the bra area. Wherever liposuction removes excess fat, you may experience soreness and tenderness. The operative areas will also likely be swollen and bruised.
Patient comfort is paramount in the mommy makeover process. Our patients manage the mild to moderate side effects of surgery with prescription pain medication for a few days, followed by over-the-counter medication as needed.
What Are The Risks Associated With The Procedure?
All surgical procedures carry risks related to anesthesia. There are also risks such as infection, bleeding, and poor wound healing. Each of these can be minimized by following pre and post-operative instructions from the surgeon. A mommy makeover may also carry risks of poor healing that results in capsular contracture of breast implants, breast or body asymmetry, and unexpected lumps or bumps. Because your mommy makeover involves multiple procedures in a single surgery, it is crucial to take your time in choosing the right, board-certified plastic surgeon to perform your treatment.
When is it best to undergo a “Mommy Makeover”?
After childbirth, your body needs to stabilize. If you are currently lactating, I would not recommend surgery as you will receive various medications (anesthesia, antibiotics, medication for discomfort, etc. You certainly do not want these in your system and passed to your child in your milk. The aforementioned issues aside, lactation in and of itself is a contraindication for breast augmentation.
If you are planning on losing weight, you should do so before surgery. Surgery, even cosmetic surgery, is a stress on the body so if there are any emotional issues, (i.e. postpartum depression), these should be addressed prior to committing to any surgery. Following surgery, it is very common to have some emotional highs and lows and we advise our patients of this prior to surgery. These emotional changes, fortunately, are brief*.
So in summary, you want to be at your baseline emotionally and physically after childbirth, or as much as possible. Chronic depression (most of my patients with this are on some type of oral anti-depressant) is not a contraindication to surgery, but if you have temporary postpartum depression, then you really should wait until that is resolved before moving forward with the decision to undergo surgery.