Procedures restore body to natural pre-pregnancy state
By: Dr. Eric Chang
As parents, we sacrifice greatly for our children. These sacrifices may come in the form of lack of sleep, time spent with them or investments in their growth and education.
No sacrifice, however, comes near the level of the toll that a mother’s body takes during the growing, nurturing and feeding of a baby. A woman’s body changes in a multitude of ways during pregnancy – the hips become wider to allow the passage of a baby through the birth canal; the skin of the abdomen stretches and grows to accommodate a growing fetus, soon to be an infant child.
Add to this breastfeeding. A woman’s breasts not only go through the enlargement that pregnancy brings but also the changes that providing sustenance and nourishment for a child brings.
Some of these changes, thankfully, are reversible. The average weight gain during pregnancy is about 30 pounds. The majority of this weight can be safely lost during the baby’s first year with a healthy regimen of good eating and exercise. Breastfeeding can assist in this weight loss by helping the body burn calories that have been stored during pregnancy.
But what about the excess skin of the abdomen? What about stretch marks? What about the now sagging breasts? These, sadly, do not respond to dieting and exercise. This is where the “Mommy Makeover” comes in.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation surgery was the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure performed in the U.S. in 2006. Nearly 330,000 women had breast augmentations, a dramatic increase of over 50 percent since 2000. Abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck,” was the fifth most popular procedure, with a 133 percent rise during the last decade. The increasing popularity of these procedures mirrors the increasing popularity of plastic surgery in the general population.
A “Mommy Makeover” is a combination of procedures that restore a woman’s body to its natural, pre-pregnancy state. The goal is to bring back to form what was stretched-out during the growing and nurturing of a child. For most women, this starts with an abdominoplasty, which tightens the excess skin of the lower abdomen, leaving a scar that can be hidden low in the bikini line. Often, many of the stretch marks of the abdomen can be removed with this procedure. The muscles of the abdominal wall are tightened to improve the “tone” of the abdomen. Liposuction is often performed to additionally contour the abdomen.
The changes of a woman’s breasts are the next area to be addressed. Often, the complaints I hear are “empty” or “deflated” and “droopy” or “low.” Breast implants can be used to replace the volume of the breasts, and a lift may be needed to tighten the skin of the breasts and to replace the nipples to a more natural, youthful position.
Breast implants come in a variety of sizes and shapes, not to mention materials. Silicone is now gaining popularity once again for its ability to mimic the “feel” of a natural breast. Incisions can be placed high in the armpit crease to help “hide” the scars from implants. Talk to your surgeon about which options may be the best for you.
A “Mommy Makeover” may be performed in a single operation or your surgeon may want to stage the procedures, depending on your general health and of the complexity of the operation. Depending on the length of the procedure, an overnight hospital stay may be recommended as well. Safety should be the guiding principle of any elective surgery.
A consultation and examination with a well-trained plastic surgeon is the first step toward a “Mommy Makeover.” The changes of pregnancy, motherhood and aging affect each woman individually. Your surgeon will listen to your concerns, assess your problem areas and offer the latest techniques to correct them.
Dr. Eric Chang is a plastic surgeon at Baltimore Washington Medical Center and with Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. To reach Dr. Chang, call 410-740-9330.