By Dr Cordula Winkler
Morning sickness. Heartburn. Fatigue. Cravings. Weight gain and skin changes. The joys and demands of pregnancy and motherhood do take their toll on our bodies and may make us feel as if they no longer belong to us.
Unfortunately, even after some normality returns to our lives, our bodies don’t just snap back into shape. As a result, an increasing number of mothers are turning to cosmetic surgery to assist them to look and feel their best. The so-called “Mommy Makeover” is a marketing term and not a surgical one and as such should not be misunderstood.
WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
Plastic surgery procedures for mothers are designed to counteract the physical effects of childbearing, while restoring and enhancing your body. Due to the nature of pregnancy, the most common areas that need to be addressed are the breasts and abdomen.
In general, the surgeries most required and requested by moms are breast augmentation, breast lift (mastopexy), tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and liposuction.
A plastic surgeon can help you devise a personalised makeover plan that targets your areas of concern. This will include a discussion regarding your needs and expectations and the options available to you. Since each woman is unique, it is important for the surgeon to advise you on the treatments best suited to your body.
As an example, some moms need a breast augmentation to correct severely deflated breasts, while others may need breast implants in combination with a breast lift. More voluptuous women may desire a breast reduction with a lift.
In the tummy area, many women need a full abdominoplasty with removal of excess skin and fat, while others may only need a mini-abdominoplasty.
Most women will also benefit from body sculpting – using liposuction to target the back, hips and thighs and enhance the overall changes.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER
In general, I recommend that moms wait six months or more after having a baby before considering cosmetic surgery. This allows time for your body and your life to normalise. Some other practical questions for mothers to ask themselves before deciding to embark on a makeover are:
Do you intend to have more children? If you plan to have more children, wait. The muscles in the abdomen (which are tightened during a tummy tuck) can re-separate and the shape of your breast will certainly be affected.
Is your weight stable? While you may not achieve your pre-baby weight, diet and exercise before having plastic surgery can help maximise the results and being at a stable weight before surgery is important.
Are you still breastfeeding? You should wait until you are finished breastfeeding before having any breast surgery, because the enlarged ducts and increased blood vessel activity of the breast during nursing increases bleeding and the risk of infection.
Being a mom is a full time job and with little ones to care for or older children to look after, understanding the restrictions of the recovery process is vital. The recovery process will vary based on your specific makeover surgery, but moms should consider some practical aspects to ensure the recovery goes as smoothly as possible:
- Consider selecting a facility that offers a surgical retreat where you can spend at least the first 24 hours after surgery. This will obviously require that you arrange a sitter to assist with the children.
- Driving is usually not allowed for two weeks post-surgery, so alternative transportation arrangements should be planned.
- Heavy lifting, including of children, and vigorous physical activity should be avoided for up to two weeks. You can expect to return to your pre-surgery fitness regime after three months.
- Wound dressing and care are important to minimise scarring and ensure infection control. A surgical chaperone who can assist with proper wound care, especially in hard-to-reach places, can be a godsend for pre-occupied moms.
- You will need to visit your surgeon for a follow-up within a week and probably on a weekly basis for a month thereafter. You should make allowance in your schedule for this when planning the surgery.
The hype around the “Mommy Makeover” has made this type of surgery fashionable and much information is readily available on the Internet, often overlooking the reality of motherhood and the practical implications and options that mums should consider. A consultation with a plastic surgeon is the best way to obtain advice, fully understand your options and ensure that an appropriate surgical plan is agreed upon.