The experience of pregnancy and childbirth is both life-altering and physically taxing. Though some women recover completely after having their first child, many sustain damage to one or more areas of their body. This damage, which often includes separated abdominal muscles, stretched skin and changes in the breast and vaginal tissue, is often compounded by subsequent pregnancies. By the time a woman is done having children, she may be shocked to see just how much her body has changed.
While a healthy diet and regular exercise are an important part of any woman’s pregnancy recovery plan, they can’t address the issues mentioned above. Instead, a series of plastic surgery procedures collectively known as a “mommy makeover” are available to repair internal damage and correct aesthetic problems.
What is a Mommy Makeover?
A mommy makeover is a personalized treatment plan consisting of one or more of the following plastic surgery procedures:
Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck Surgery)
Tummy tuck surgery is used to correct the pronounced stomach “pouch” some women develop after pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, this protruding stomach is not caused by weight gain during pregnancy (though fat deposits may add to size of the belly, of course); Instead, prominent post-pregnancy tummy pouches often result from weakened and torn abdominal muscles. The pressure exerted against the abdominal wall while a baby grows in the womb sometimes causes the connective tissue between the two lateral “halves” of the abdominal muscles to separate. When this happens, the muscles are no longer able to support and compress the abdominal tissue and it begins to protrude through the abdominal wall.
In addition to creating cosmetic issues, leaving damaged abdominal muscles untreated can result in a number of medical problems. Ventral hernias, chronic lower back pain and urinary incontinence frequently result from untreated muscle tearing. Note that these problems are especially likely if you have given birth via cesarean section. The incision made during a cesarean section usually damages the abdominal muscles a great deal.
During abdominoplasty, Dr. Khanna will make a long incision near your bikini line (allowing you to easily hide your tummy tuck scar after you’ve healed). She will then use sutures to repair your abdominal muscles. This will allow the tissue to heal properly and once again support the abdomen. Finally, your surgeon will pull the skin taut over your muscles and remove any loose, sagging skin you have. (Many of your stretch marks may also be removed during this process.) The final sutures will then be placed along your incision and you will be ready to return home and recover.
Tummy tuck surgery is incredibly useful but it’s important to understand that this is a highly invasive procedure. While it is not an especially risky surgery, following proper recovery protocol is paramount to ensuring that your abdominal muscles heal properly. You will need to take at least two to three weeks off work after this procedure. You will also need to make sure you have around the clock assistance with childcare duties as you will not be able to lift more than 10 pounds during your recovery. Normal life resumes at approximately 6 weeks post-op.
Some women who have minimal abdominal muscle damage may be able to have a less invasive procedure known as a “mini tummy tuck.” Mini tummy tuck surgery involves the creation of a much shorter incision and focuses primarily on removing loose skin and stretch marks from the lower abdomen. Because the muscles are not heavily operated on during this procedure, patients only need about one month to heal from mini tummy tuck surgery.
Breast Lift or Combined Breast Lift and Augmentation Surgery
As any woman who has been through pregnancy knows, the breasts grow a great deal larger as they prepare for milk production. Sometimes this additional volume remains once breastfeeding has ceased, but more often the breasts go back to their prior size. Furthermore, some women discover that breast volume is actually lost over the course of their pregnancies. This creates two problems: One, the skin of the breasts becomes stretched, resulting in flatter, droopier breasts and two, many women miss their old breast size.
To correct these issues, we employ either a breast lift (a procedure during which loose skin is removed from the breasts and the nipples are repositioned to point north rather than south) or combined lift-augmentation surgery. Lift-augmentation surgery also involves the placement of breast implants to restore breast volume that has been lost to pregnancy and breastfeeding. By combining both lift and augmentation we can reduce your total healing time and help you save on surgical costs. You can expect to spend about six weeks healing from breast lift or lift-augmentation surgery, but you should be able to return to work within one to two weeks.
Labiaplasty (Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgery)
Women who give birth vaginally often experience significant stretching of the delicate tissues surrounding the vagina. This can cause the labia minora—the folds of sensitive, hairless skin that are normally protected by the labia majora—to protrude. This is more than just embarrassing for the woman affected; This condition can become quite painful owing to the way the labia minora chafe against clothing during walking, running, sitting etc. Fortunately, this problem can be solved with a procedure called a labiaplasty.
During labiaplasty, loose skin is carefully removed from the labia minora so that it will fit comfortably inside the labia majora again. Sutures are then placed to ensure the tissue heals properly. Naturally because the vagina is such a delicate area, patients must follow special recovery protocols while healing. You will be given instructions on how to cleanse the area in order to avoid infection after surgery. You will also be advised to avoid strenuous activities (including sex) for six weeks after this operation. This is necessary to prevent the tissue from tearing. However, you should be able to return to work and resume low-impact activities within about one week after your surgery.
What to Expect During a Mommy Makeover Consultation
Every woman’s body responds differently to pregnancy. For example, tall women with large abdominal cavities may be able to support a growing baby without their abdominal muscles tearing. Some women do not experience breast expansion and contraction dramatic enough to cause their breasts to sag. Women who give birth via cesarean section probably will not need a labiaplasty… and so on. As such, you may not need all of the procedures described above. You may need just one or two of them.
When you come in for a mommy makeover consultation at our Oakville plastic surgery practice, we will start by listening to you. You can tell us which areas of your body you feel have been negatively impacted by pregnancy and childbirth and we will examine those areas in order to determine your surgical requirements. Each and every mommy makeover we conduct is completely personalized to meet the patient’s needs and aesthetic goals.
Once we have agreed on which surgical procedures are right for you, we will help you plan for your recovery in advance. We’ll tell you how long you can expect to take off work and what kind of special steps you should take while healing from your surgery. We will then work with you to book your mommy makeover during a time that is convenient for you. We actively participate in each of our patients’ mommy makeover journeys from beginning to end. It’s our mission to ensure that you get the results you want and don’t experience complications along the way.
Finally before you leave your consultation, we will help you understand financing options (if needed). Because mommy makeovers often involve several different plastic surgery procedures, they can be quite costly. We understand this and are therefore happy to provide flexible financing through Medicard. Consult our Pricing page for more information.
Who Makes a Good Mommy Makeover Candidate?
Mommy makeover candidates need to be in excellent overall health. If you have any outstanding health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, active cancer, lung disease, an autoimmune disorder etc., then you probably will not be able to have a mommy makeover. However, you should talk to your doctor in order to get a better idea of whether or not you’re a good candidate for surgery.
We also require that all our mommy makeover patients wait at least six months to one year after giving birth and breastfeeding before having any surgical procedures. This will give your body the time it needs to heal from the demands of pregnancy and the strain of childbirth. It will also give you the time you need to lose any “baby weight” you gained. It’s important to be within 10% of your ideal weight before having a mommy makeover for a few reasons: First, additional weight loss (after you have surgery) may result in more loose skin, making revision surgeries necessary. Second, being your normal weight will help you determine whether or not you have lost breast volume during breastfeeding. (This will allow you to accurately assess whether or not you want breast augmentation surgery.) Lastly, women who are a healthy weight experience better surgical outcomes because they usually have excellent cardiovascular health. The healthier your body is the more quickly it will be able to recover from surgery.
All plastic surgery patients must be current nonsmokers. If you smoke, you will need to quit at least six weeks prior to and after your surgery. This is because tobacco smoke limits the amount of oxygen available in the blood, impairing the body’s ability to heal. If you cannot stop smoking on your own, talk to your doctor about the possibility of quitting options before your mommy makeover.
Finally, be advised that it is best to wait until you are finished having children to have a mommy makeover as subsequent pregnancies will result in the need for revision surgeries. Because this is both expensive and increases your risk of scarring and other complications, it’s a good idea to book your mommy makeover once your family is complete.
Getting Started on Your Journey Back to a Better Body
Having a mommy makeover can restore your confidence, balance your shape and help you feel like “you” again. If you’re ready to get started on your mommy makeover journey, call our Toronto, Ontario plastic surgery practice at 905-842-2262 or 1-800-417-3877 today.