You’ve just delivered your “bundle of joy” and you now have everything you’ve ever wanted – except the body you used to have! Yes, in addition to miraculously transforming your breasts into milk-producing nourishment for your new baby, pregnancy can alter your body in other less miraculous ways. There’s no doubt pregnancy and child-rearing is an amazing transformative life experience but the possible changes to breast shape and abdominal laxity can be heartbreaking to some women. Before we discuss what is entailed in a mommy makeover, let’s talk about what causes these changes in your body.
With the increase in abdominal girth from pregnancy, the skin can form stretch marks and the “six pack” of muscles can become more lax, forming what in medical speak is called a rectus diastasis. It’s not a hernia but the resulting abdominal bulge after pregnancy can be resistant to returning to its pre-pregnancy state even with all of the abdominal crunches and sit-ups imaginable. And after the breasts swell from milk-production post-delivery, even if you don’t breast feed, the breasts may not return to the same shape as before, and may also have stretch marks and become pendulous in shape.
A mommy makeover refers to the cosmetic procedures that you can undergo to correct these changes. For the laxity and excess skin in the abdomen, an abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck” can address these concerns. While liposuction can remove fat from the abdomen with the lucky side effect of tightening the skin, liposuction alone will not correct stretch marks and the abdominal bulge from the laxity in the abdominal wall muscles. An abdominoplasty is more than removing excess skin. During the operation, stitches are used to tighten up the loose abdominal wall muscles and the removal of excess skin “treats” the stretch marks. This ability to directly treat the muscles and stretch marks with an abdominoplasty is something liposuction can not do. Don’t get me wrong – liposuction is a great operation as long as it’s used in the right circumstances (excess fat with minimal excess skin).
Just so you’re prepared, the tightening of the muscles is the most painful part of the abdominoplasty, not really the lower abdominal scar. But the pain is bearable and treatable with oral pain medication. Patients often ask me if they can pick up their child after the operation. This is really up to the patient’s pain threshold. As I often say when it comes to activity after surgery, I tell patients that if the activity they’re doing hurts, then stopping doing it but if it doesn’t hurt, then it’s fine to continue. Rather than telling patients an arbitrary amount of time to avoid a certain activity, I let them to use their pain tolerance as a guide. And for that reason, I encourage them to pick up their children when it’s tolerable. That being said, I also encourage them to have some help for those first few days after surgery.
When it comes to the breasts, depending on how droopy they are after delivery and/or breast feeding, will determine what breast procedure is necessary. Sometimes the breasts can become deflated and in that case, an implant may be necessary. But they may also have so much droop that excess skin needs to be removed to lift the breasts back to their appropriate position. That “appropriate” position is considered to be the lifting of the nipple back to the level of the crease below the breasts, called the infra-mammary fold. Implants aren’t always necessary and a lift may be all you need. Your board certified plastic surgeon can help with this decision.
Often, the tummy tuck and breast surgery (lift and/or implants) are done at the same time. This is because both areas are usually affected by pregnancy and can be treated in one operative setting. Also, it’s less expensive to do both operations at the same time rather than each individually. You can check pricing from a plastic surgeon in your area by clicking here. As for timing, I recommend a mommy makeover after you’ve stopped breast feeding and your breasts return to a baseline size and shape, which may take weeks to a few months. But if you don’t think this is your last child, I would definitely recommend waiting until you’re sure you’re sure!
Did this help?