I have been wanting to write this post for a long time. I have been interested in getting a Mommy Makeover for YEARS and while my youngest is 16, I wondered if it was too late to even try. I was also worried if I was being vain in wanting this elective procedure but as they become more popular, I see more women feeling like this is a viable way to get back in shape after having children.
I wanted to get not just general information on the popular procedure so I enlisted the help of Dr. Constance M. Chen to give thorough details that every women would need if interested in this procedure.
Constance M. Chen, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon with special expertise in the use of innovative natural techniques to optimize medical and cosmetic outcomes for women undergoing breast reconstruction. She is Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery (Plastic Surgery) at Weill Cornell Medical College and Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery (Plastic Surgery) at Tulane University School of Medicine. She is also Chief of Microsurgery at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai.
Here are some questions I had for her regarding the Mommy Makeover:
Pregnancy is a significant strain on the body. Carrying a new life in the uterus can cause the abdominal muscles to pull apart, resulting in a rectus diastasis. This separation of the abdominal muscles results in a visible bulge that also puts extra stress on the back, leading to back pain. Unfortunately, no amount of exercise can correct the abdominal bulge and back pain, because the problem is a mechanical separation of the muscles.
The only way to correct a rectus diastasis is through rectus plication, in which the rectus abdominis muscles are sewn together in an internal corset to restore the muscles to their original state. In addition, the stretching of the abdominal skin during pregnancy causes it to lose elasticity.
The skin has three layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat. When the dermis has been damaged, there will be permanent stretch marks and loose skin that cannot be eliminated by diet and exercise. An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck removes excess skin and stretch marks and also repairs the damaged muscles. The result is a stronger back with tighter core muscles and a flatter stomach.
When the breasts engorge with milk, the skin can be stretched out so much that it loses elasticity. After breastfeeding, the excess overstretched breast skin can lead to a sagging breast that appears flat and empty at the top with all the breast tissue at the bottom. Several different procedures may be used to restore the appearance of the breasts:
- A mastopexy or breast lift will not change the size of the breasts but will remove the excess skin and reposition the nipple-areola complex higher on the breast mound and/or move the breast tissue itself higher on the chest wall to recreate a perkier breast.
- Some women are left with larger breasts even after the milk ducts have involuted. Large breasts may be uncomfortable or cause back, neck or arm pain, headaches, or a rash under the breasts. Reduction mammoplasty or breast reduction removes excess tissue and skin and positions the breast tissue higher on the chest wall.
- After the breasts are no longer filled with milk, the breasts may appear smaller than they were before the pregnancy. For women who would like larger breasts, augmentation mammoplasty or breast augmentation places a saline or silicone gel implant under the breast tissue to increase the size of the breast and fill up the upper portion of the breast.
Liposuction can be used along with abdominal and breast procedures to sculpt the final contours by removing additional fat accumulated during pregnancy. Liposuction is useful an adjunct to other procedures to smooth out the contours but it cannot remove excess skin that results from loss of skin elasticity after pregnancy.
“A ‘mommy makeover’ can help a woman feel stronger and more like herself after pregnancy,” says Dr. Chen. “But no one should rush into surgery without careful consideration.” Here are Dr. Chen’s guidelines for deciding when a “mommy makeover” is advisable and will produce the best results:
- Be in good health and at your goal weight. Don’t use surgery as a shortcut to weight loss.
- Exhaust the possibility of exercise correcting the problem. Don’t use surgery to achieve what can be accomplished with exercise.
- It’s best to defer surgery until your family is complete. A subsequent pregnancy can undo the results of a “mommy makeover.”
- Have realistic goals and expectations for the outcome of surgery.
- Make sure you have the needed support for your recovery period.
“A ‘mommy makeover’ can address some of the changes caused by pregnancy and motherhood,” Dr. Chen concludes. “Along with a healthy lifestyle, restoring a woman’s body after pregnancy can bring back a new mother’s physical and emotional well-being.”
The most important factor is that a patient be healthy. For example, smoking, diabetes, and obesity (BMI >30) can impair wound healing and lead to serious complications, and those three factors tend to be more important than age.
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Most reputable plastic surgeons will require that a patient stop smoking prior to surgery, and patients will also reduce their risk of complications such as delayed wound healing, infection, or even pulmonary embolism (which is deadly) if they are as close as possible to their ideal body weight.
That said, as patients get much older – over 70, for example – they may also have a harder time undergoing elective surgery. Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, and all patients should be evaluated by their physician to optimize safety before surgery.
Dr. Chen says, “Yes, many women of color do get mommy makeovers – and I would say women of color get mommy makeovers just as frequently as all other women.”
Yup, we are getting this done as well as our white counterparts but I would advise a few things. If worried about scarring or if you are prone to getting keloids, look for a Plastic Surgeon that has worked on Black women. Ask questions and no, there are no stupid questions. Never elect to do any work on your body without doing your research and ask questions of the person performing the service whether you are getting your hair colored or getting a Mommy Makeover.
Now the price…Prices vary according to what you want, need and where you live according to RealSelf.com.
The typical cost for a Mommy Makeover ranges from $5,200 – $19,250 with an average cost of $12,350. Costs vary by surgeon, geographic region, and the complexity of the procedure. (Cost estimates are based on 9,934 reviews submitted on RealSelf). Sounds pricey? Well, it can be but there are a few options to pay for this elective surgery.
You can use medical or regular credit cards, take out a bank loan, a home equity loan and even a line of credit. There are even unsecured medical loans as well as doctors who have their own payment plans. Hell, this can be a gift from someone else or simply save up for the procedure. If this is something you really want to do, you can find the money.
Now that you know everything possible about the Mommy Makeover and that women of color are just as interested in getting them, is this a procedure you will consider? I’m very interested and hope to do this within the next 2 to 3 years. I am very grateful for this in-depth interview with Dr. Chen on the popular procedure and will pass on more information relating to women of color and plastic surgery.
Have you gotten a Mommy Makeover already? Share below!