Mothers understand that sacrifice comes with the territory. However, having children does not have to cost you your appearance. Pregnancy and breast feeding can take their toll on a woman’s body leaving residual skin and fat around the tummy, sagging breasts and stretch marks. The abdomen particularly bears the major changes during pregnancy. Transforming your tummy and trunk when diet and exercise fail to yield the results you are looking for is possible with a tummy tuck and/or liposuction. Breast surgery helps restore what you might have thought was gone forever. Can you really get your body back with a Mommy Makeover? The answer is “yes.”
“The term ‘Mommy Makeover’ refers to a combination of procedures that focus on the areas most affected by pregnancy. It’s definitely not a cookie cutter operation, but rather a highly individualized surgical plan related to a woman’s body, the changes that have taken place and what results she is seeking. We are talking about advanced body contouring that until now was not thought possible in one operation…from the removal of excess skin, to literally redefining a patient’s body to the size, shape, look, and feel they want. It’s one of the most satisfying aspects of aesthetic surgery for me because it allows a patient to be less self-conscious and see herself as a woman again.” — Michael Lee, M.D.
Pregnancy has a profound physical impact and each woman is affected differently, with age and genetics playing a significant role in how their body recovers. There is no way to predict how a body will respond during and after pregnancy. Changes in breast tissue, volume and position; stretchmarks; varicose veins; loose tummy skin and a pooch are some of the collateral damage associated with pregnancy and nursing. Some women emerge relatively unscathed. Others suffer with it all.
If the focus is breast enhancement, loss of volume may require an implant. Perhaps a patient is happy with their breast size, but the nipple or breast position bothers them. These patients may need a breast lift. If both size and position are affected, a breast lift with an implant will restore the breasts to their pre-pregnancy appearance.
Everyone’s abdomen is different. The location and amount of loose skin and changes to tissue under the skin will be assessed at consultation. Some women need muscles called diastasis recti repaired because they have separated during pregnancy, creating a bulge. If there are excess rolls and fat around the midsection and back, advanced body contouring with liposuction will be recommended.
It’s particularly important that patients do their homework when choosing a surgeon for combination procedures. The popularity of the “mommy makeover” has attracted practitioners who are not certified or trained in the nuances of breast surgery, abdominoplasty and liposuction. The surgeon should be board certified by the ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties) specifically in the specialty of Plastic Surgery.
Find a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable and confident. There should be open communication and a sense of being heard. He or she should be able to deliver an individualized surgical plan. You don’t want a practitioner that does the same operation on everyone. Study their photo gallery.
If breast augmentation or a breast lift with an implant are part of the mommy makeover, be certain you can expect a surgeon who plans follow up visits since implants are not lifetime devices.
Recovery can take 2-3 weeks, so it is important to have support of family or friends during the healing process, particularly if children are young and need attention.
Dr. Lee believes that any successful surgery begins with great communication. Most patients have very realistic expectations, but Dr. Lee spends the right amount of time to be sure the patient is comfortable with what can and cannot be accomplished. During the consultation both surgical and non-surgical options might be discussed along with tradeoffs of each until an individualized plan can be agreed upon. “In fact my goal is often to not only address the changes brought on by pregnancy but to even further improve upon a patient’s pre-baby body.”
Another priority is scar location and aggressive post-surgical scar care. Dr. Lee places the scar very low so there is often no telltale evidence of the incision even with a string bikini. Poor scar position is sometimes impossible to later correct.
“No matter what the final plan might be, I want the best outcome possible for every patient…and that comes down to surgical technique.”
“Once the injured, loose skin is removed, the abdominal muscles rejoined, and the skin pulled down tight, the results are astounding.”
Dr. Lee makes a very low incision, in an attempt to hide it below a bikini line, to the point where any C-section scar is removed with the procedure. A common complication of abdominoplasty is the scar eventually migrating into a visible part of the abdomen. The location of Dr. Lee’s scar mitigates this risk. Loose abdominal skin is lifted up and pulled tight. Once the correct tension is realized, all excess skin is removed and a new incision is made for the belly button. Dr. Lee gives careful consideration to creating an aesthetic belly button–one that is rounder or more vertically shaped to look youthful. Sutures are placed underneath. Dr. Lee uses a progressive suture technique that takes extra time but minimizes the tension of put on the scar by distributing the resulting tension over the whole abdomen. The incision is closed down deep into the fascia to hold the location.
In the majority of cases, repair of the core muscles (diastasis recti) is done. Often these muscles separate during pregnancy and create a pooch or bulge of the tummy. Restoring the anatomy to its correct position through this “internal girdle” not only strengthens the core, but makes the abdominal contour more aesthetic.
Some women, albeit a distinct minority can have a mini tummy tuck. If patient has great skin tone and loose skin confined to the area below the belly button, we can remove the skin with a smaller incision. In a mini tummy tuck we are not usually repairing core muscles or the belly button. When the anatomy allows it, a mini abdominoplasty can be very favorable.
Variations exist on the traditional tummy tuck procedure. These will be discussed at consultation after a physical exam. Different scar patterns and approaches serve some patients better than those performed in a traditional abdominoplasty.
Liposuction has gone through many iterations since the 1980s when a suction method was introduced to eliminate fat cells. Today, few tummy tucks are done without liposuction. Removing skin during an abdominoplasty is only part of the procedure. Most women benefit from body contouring. A flat tummy is better than a loose tummy with excess skin, but only liposuction can deliver a better shape and curves around the entire trunk, transitioning from the waist to hips for a 360 degree improvement. Dr. Lee’s adoption of S.A.F.E.® Liposuction has truly revolutionized the results that can be realized with lipo in a safer, more predictable way than other types of liposuction.
The Brazilian Butt Lift – One of the essential components of a great result with fat grafting to the buttocks is S.A.F.E.® Liposuction. This advanced form of liposuction refines how the fat is harvested, preserved, and reintroduced for optimal outcomes. Fat is very fragile. Traditional liposuction techniques can yield unpredictable results in terms of how much fat “survives.” I worked with the authors of S.A.F.E.® Liposuction and have been able to replicate their remarkable results. If a woman wants liposuction and a Brazilian Buttock Lift, I will usually not do a tummy tuck at the same time. We will first see how much the skin responds to liposuction alone. Using a 360 degree “shrink wrap” technique around the waist and torso, I can sometimes get dramatic results and eliminate the need for a tummy tuck. If excess skin is still present after the liposuction, I know exactly how much skin to remove for the best result. With S.A.F.E.® Liposuction and a Brazilian Butt Lift I can sculpt a woman’s complete torso and buttock areas to create a beautiful, feminine silhouette.
No amount of crunches will put separated muscles back together or eliminate excess skin. There are skin tightening devices that will subtly tighten some abdominal or flank skin over time, but they are no substitute for surgical removal of skin and muscle repair resulting in a flat, smooth tummy.
It all depends on the location of the stretch marks. If they are concentrated below the belly button, there is a possibility they can be totally eliminated as part of skin removal during a tummy tuck. Stretch marks are essentially scars in the skin itself. If they cannot be removed as part of the skin excised during a tummy tuck, there are fractional lasers that may slightly improve the overall appearance of the marks and stimulate new collagen in the dermal layer.
How soon after childbirth can a woman schedule a mommy makeover? Generally speaking, there are benefits to waiting at least one year to determine how the body will respond over time and signal what will not “rebound.” Having said that, I routinely see women 6 months post-delivery for a consultation so they can schedule their surgery at the 12 month mark.
Contact our office to schedule a private consultation with Board Certified cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Michael Lee. This is the next step to determine which Park Cities cosmetic surgery procedure is the best option, giving you the desired outcome after surgery. Dr. Michael Lee will spend time with you to learn about your medical history and your expected outcome for surgery, as well as explaining the procedure in detail and answering all of your questions.