Having a baby is one of the most wonderful experiences a woman can have. Given my own experiences with having children (I’m the mother of five), I can attest to the many joys of pregnancy, but also to some of its less desirable effects on our bodies. I understand the changes a woman’s body undergoes, and I also know that each pregnancy is different, and each woman is unique.
Often pregnancy causes changes in your body that can’t be reversed no matter how much you diet and exercise. While healthy eating and regular exercise can help, sometimes the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on your body can only be addressed with plastic surgery. For example, hormonal changes that trigger lactation cause the breasts to become significantly enlarged, and subsequently breast tissue shrinks and the breasts deflate after breastfeeding is completed. This can lead to smaller, less shapely breasts that sag after pregnancy and nursing.
Plus, while it’s normal to gain some weight during pregnancy, the extra pounds may not come off after delivery. And because of all the stretching of your abdominal skin during pregnancy (as well as separation of the rectus muscles, called a diastasis recti), you can be left with stretch marks, a wider waist, and excess skin.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT THESE CHANGES?
This is where the mommy makeover comes in. Many women opt to have a number of cosmetic surgeries performed together to address the changes their bodies have gone through as a result of pregnancy. Popular plastic surgery procedures include breast augmentation (to replace lost breast volume after breastfeeding), breast lift (to reshape the breast tissue and move the nipples), liposuction (to eliminate stubborn fat), abdominoplasty (to remove excess skin and tighten the abdomen’s muscles), and labiaplasty (to reduce stretched out labia and improve their appearance).
HOW LONG DOES A MOMMY MAKEOVER TAKE, AND WHAT’S THE DOWNTIME?
A mommy makeover usually takes between one and three hours of operating time, depending on the exact procedures being performed. When surgeries are performed in the same operating session, it usually takes less time than if each surgery were done separately.
Most patients are able to return to their normal daily routine within a week after surgery, although a total of two weeks’ downtime with limited activity and exercise restriction is recommended. Recovery after abdominoplasty or labiaplasty takes the longest time, requiring four weeks before return to all strenuous physical activities.
HOW CAN A MOMMY MAKEOVER CHANGE YOUR BREASTS?
The shape of your breasts after pregnancy and nursing is usually not the same as it was before your baby. Your breasts may droop, and sometimes become smaller or larger, or the nipple position may change. Plastic surgery of the breasts—including a breast lift (mastopexy), breast augmentation with saline or silicone implants, or breast reduction—can greatly improve these issues. Procedures designed to improve the appearance of the nipple and surrounding pigmented skin (areola), including nipple reduction, correction of inverted nipples, and reduction of enlarged areolae, may also be performed after nursing is completed.
Some of these procedures—such as a breast augmentation and breast lift, or breast reduction and liposuction of the bra bulge—can be done together. Downtime is usually only a few days, with exercise restriction for two weeks. Sutures are absorbable, no drains are required, and patients usually wear a surgical support bra after surgery. Results are immediate and the procedures are not very painful.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR BELLY?
Your belly may accumulate fat that wasn’t there before, and your waistline might widen after pregnancy. While you can strengthen abdominal muscles with exercise (such as crunches and leg lifts), the separation of your rectus muscles often will not completely disappear, making it nearly impossible to return to your pre-baby body. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy also contribute to weight gain, usually in the abdomen, hips, and thighs. In cases where diet and exercise don’t have the desired effect on the extra weight, liposuction can be a good option to target the residual fat and permanently remove it.
As for your skin, even if it shrinks down to some extent, stretch marks might persist. Depending on the extent of loose skin, stretch marks, and diastasis recti, some type of abdominoplasty (mini, moderate, or full) will both remove excess skin and tighten rectus muscles, creating a tighter, flatter stomach and narrower waist. A combination of liposuction and abdominoplasty can be a great option for women who want to get rid of both excess fat and skin that persist after childbirth.
The quickest recovery and shortest incisions are possible with liposuction alone, which requires only quarter-inch-long incisions, or in combination with a mini abdominoplasty, where the scar is about the same length as that of a C-section scar. Patients with minimal amounts of excess skin can benefit from the mini abdominoplasty. (A mini abdominoplasty can also revise or improve the appearance of C-section scars.) This surgery usually takes about an hour, whereas a full abdominoplasty may require up to two hours.
Liposuction by itself can take anywhere from a half hour to two hours, depending on the number of areas treated and the amount of fat that needs to be removed. Many patients return to full activity within a week, in contrast to abdominoplasty procedures, which require up to four to six weeks for complete recovery.
WHY GET A MOMMY MAKEOVER?
I have personally experienced the physical and psychological changes that accompany pregnancy and giving birth. While many post-maternity changes can be subtle, others are dramatic. And some changes become more prominent over time. Whether you are a new mom or have grown children, many of the bodily changes can affect you emotionally as well as physically.
Think of a mommy makeover as a means to improve your appearance and feel more confident about your body. While we absolutely should be proud of our bodies no matter what, sometimes there is an emotional toll connected to the changes our bodies undergo because of childbearing. And it can be emotionally and mentally frustrating when no amount of diet or exercise achieves the results we seek. Sometimes a mommy makeover can be just what the doctor ordered to boost your self-esteem and restore your body confidence after pregnancy.
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