Not Your Mother's Body: Mommy Makeovers Can Restore Your Pre-Pregnancy Figure

Supermodel and mother of four Heidi Klum recently posed topless for a photo spread in Allure magazine. When asked later during an online interview with The Huffington Post how she keeps "the girls" perky after four pregnancies, Klum took a philosophical approach.

"I think that just has to do with exercise and a lot with your genes. You either have the genes or you don't have the genes," she responded.

Klum is partly right. A woman's genetic makeup dictates to a degree how her body reacts to the hormonal and physical changes associated with pregnancy. For example, some women are more prone to developing stretch marks than others, some women's breasts just seem to bounce back to their prenatal state more readily, and some post-baby bumps just hang in there no matter how much abdominal work you do. And while exercising before, during and after pregnancy can be a boon to regaining your pre-baby figure, it's not the only option for getting back in shape.

Meet the Mommy Makeover

Increasingly, moms who are unhappy with the way their breasts look after pregnancy are opting for the mommy makeover, a combination of plastic surgery procedures which may include breast augmentation and/or a breast lift, a tummy tuck and a butt lift. Together, these procedures address the areas of a woman's body that take the most direct hits during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

The primary advantage of a mommy makeover is that in one surgical session your body is transformed as closely as possible to your pre-pregnancy figure, and you get to see all the results as one complete package, instead of having the surgeries done separately at intervals.

Getting Ready for Your Mommy Makeover

Most surgeons prefer that you stop breastfeeding and lose most of your pregnancy weight before you schedule your mommy makeover. They generally consider six months postpartum to be the earliest possible time for this type of surgery, and many prefer that women wait until a year has passed. They also recommend that women postpone a mommy makeover until after their last pregnancy so they can avoid the need for future repeat surgery.

The first step in preparing for your mommy makeover is choosing a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon who is affiliated with an accredited, office-based surgical center, outpatient ambulatory surgical center or hospital. The surgeon will be your guide, your sounding board and the artist who creates the new you, so it's imperative that you find someone who's both professionally qualified and sympathetic to you as a person.

Once you've picked your surgeon, follow his or her instructions for preparing for your mommy makeover surgery. This includes what to do on the day of surgery, postoperative care and follow-up, as well as a checklist of do's and don'ts that covers:

  • Lab testing and/or medical evaluation
  • Medications and supplements that should be avoided or adjusted, including prescriptions, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory drugs that may cause bleeding problems
  • Scheduling a baseline mammogram before surgery and another one afterwards
  • Avoiding smoking and alcoholic beverages prior to surgery
  • Other presurgery instructions required by the surgeon

For busy soccer moms, a mommy makeover can be more convenient and time saving than scheduling separate procedures over several months or years.

Breast Augmentation as Part of a Mommy Makeover

As most moms will attest, pregnancy and breastfeeding take their toll on the shape and firmness of their breasts. Add in other factors like age-related loss of skin elasticity and the natural effects of gravity, and all too often the result is breasts that sag and appear less full than they were B.C. (Before Children). Some women liken them to pancakes or empty socks.

Just like the extra skin on your belly, the extra skin on your breasts A.D. (After Delivery) will gradually disappear, and fatty tissues will fill out your breasts again. The whole process can take up to six months, and there's no guarantee that your breasts will look like they did before you got pregnant.

On the other hand, breast augmentation with implants rejuvenates breasts by recreating the volume that motherhood and time have stolen. Breast implants also offer women who are unhappy with their bustline the opportunity to go up a cup size or more.

Breast augmentation surgery as part of a mommy makeover is performed just as it would be as a solo procedure. For example, you'll make the same decisions regarding the type of implants, their shape, texture and placement, and the incision technique used. However, there are a few differences when breast augmentation is part of a mommy makeover.

First, multiple procedures done at the same time means the surgery will run longer. Breast augmentation can take up to four hours to perform depending on the technique used and the surgeon's skill. When combined with a breast lift (with or without laser bra surgery) and/or tummy tuck, surgery time lengthens and there's a greater risk of complications. The advantage of a mommy makeover, however, is that there's just one surgery instead of several, which means decreased exposure to anesthesia and one comprehensive recovery period.

Mommy Makeover Recovery

The recovery period after a mommy makeover is shorter than if you had each procedure performed separately. However, that's not to say that it will be easier. Your plastic surgeon will go over what to expect on the road to recovery and your postsurgical instructions.

You will mostly likely need some additional help at home for the first few days after surgery, especially if you have young children or other family members who rely on you for their care. It's important that you get plenty of rest, eat healthily and take your pain medications on time.

Your physical activity will be restricted for several weeks, which will curtail what you can do around the house and at work. Heavy lifting (and that includes picking up your toddler) is out of the question, as is reaching over your head, both of which could strain your incisions and cause them to open.

With time you will feel normal again, but full recovery can take up to six months or longer. During this time, be sure to keep all your postoperative appointments with your surgeon so he or she can assess your progress.

Mommy Makeover Risks

Make no mistake about it, the mommy makeover is major surgery, and all major surgery presents a certain amount of risk. It's important to review the risks with your plastic surgeon during your preoperative visit so that you fully understand them. They may include:

  • Negative reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Blood clots (hematoma)
  • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
  • Poor healing
  • Asymmetry of the breasts
  • Scarring
  • Temporary or permanent changes in nipple and breast sensation
  • Capsular contracture (scar tissue around the breast implants)
  • Implant leakage or rupture
  • Wrinkling of the skin over the implant
  • Possible need for revision surgery
  • General dissatisfaction with the results

Mommy Makeover Cost

Cost is also a factor for most women, especially because these elective procedures are not covered by medical insurance. In the United States, the national average surgeon fee for a breast augmentation is about $3,700; the average surgeon fees for breast lift and tummy tuck are $4,400 and $5,400, respectively, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The surgeon's fee is just one part of the cost. There are other surgery-related expenses, like the anesthesiologist's bill, operating room fee and lab work. That said, these are less when multiple procedures are performed at the same time. Many surgeons will offer a reduced rate when combining procedures in a mommy makeover. Make sure you are aware of the costs, including the cost of breast lift and the price of the breast implants (if you choose breast augmentation), before you book your surgery. Financing plans may be available to help pay for your mommy makeover.

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    Joshua A. Greenwald, MD, FACS

    Greenwald Plastic Surgery
    166 5th Ave
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    New York City, NY 10010
    (914) 421-0113
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    Joshua A. Greenwald, MD, FACS

    Greenwald Plastic Surgery
    10 Chester Avenue
    Second Floor
    White Plains, NY 10601
    (914) 421-0113
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    Bahman Guyuron, MD

    29017 Cedar Road
    Lyndhurst, OH 44124
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