09.21.2018Rejuvenators

The Mommy Makeover: How to Bounce Back After a Baby

Becoming a mother is usually regarded as one of life’s most treasured moments, but there is another side to the story that many women find challenging to deal with: the way their body changes as a result of giving birth.

Kristi Carignan

Becoming a mother is usually regarded as one of life’s most treasured moments, but there is another side to the story that many women find challenging to deal with: the way their body changes as a result of giving birth.

Dr. Michael Frederick, a board certified plastic surgeon at Hass Plastic Surgery in Florida, is responsible for helping women all over the country regain their body confidence after giving birth. He tells us about the struggles a woman goes through after pregnancy and how plastic surgery can offer a helping hand.

“Most women are concerned about the changes to their breasts and abdomen after pregnancy,” Dr Michael Frederick says. “The baby pushes out the abdominal muscles, causing a bloated appearance and then stretches the skin. A tummy tuck addresses both issues by tightening the muscles, which makes the abdomen flat again, and cutting off the extra skin, which can get rid of stretch marks too.”

While it sounds a bit gruesome, these days the technology and expertise behind plastic surgery makes it more safe and pain-free than ever, with quick mommy makeover recovery times too.

During pregnancy and after the birth, a mother’s body will naturally be put under a lot of strain, and even the most fit and healthy woman can experience unwanted changes to their appearance. The glow of motherhood and the pleasure of raising a child can be tinged with a hint of sadness, as a woman may find she is less confident with her appearance.

We spoke to mothers who experienced unwanted changes in their bodies. When asked what she missed most about her pre-pregnancy body, Jillian admitted, “I miss my boobs. They have always been small and I used to complain about their size, but after nursing two kids for over a year each, what I would not give to have my pre-baby boobs back!”

Some of the changes a woman may experience are because of hormonal changes, which can lead to increased appetite and weight gain. Once the baby is born, a woman may find that her body holds onto the excess fat gained while pregnant as well as the excess skin caused by the stretching of the abdominal wall. This can leave the stomach feeling soft and without muscle definition. While some loose skin will regain its elasticity, many women struggle to get back their pre-pregnancy shape, especially when they have a new baby takes priority over weight loss.

It is important to note that some women may experience a sense of guilt for expressing dissatisfaction with their new body, feeling as though it would be ungrateful to lament something superficial when they have an important new job in raising their baby. But, feeling a little insecure about your post-baby body is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, and it seems women all over the United States are choosing to take control and use surgical means to get back to that place of confidence.

More and more mothers who have experienced unwanted changes in their body are turning to plastic surgery to get the answers they are looking for. As a result, there has been an increasing number of new invasive and non-invasive procedures specifically targeting post-pregnancy reconstruction and enhancements.

Some opt for minimal invasiveness, such as body contouring, a mini tummy tuck, or a thigh lift, while others choose to go a step further and have surgical procedures that dramatically help with fat removal and reconstruction, such as procedures to remove breast tissue, change breast size and shape, liposuction or vaginal rejuvenation surgery.

Add the obligatory stomach changes to weight gain and the natural enlargement of the breasts, and it is no surprise that women are opting for a little surgical rejuvenation. Whether it is to take back control of their body, rediscover sexual pleasure, or boost their confidence, the use of plastic surgery to achieving image happiness has received widespread criticism, but its increasing popularity is unquestionable.

Dr. Frederick advises women on what is best for them for recovering their pre-baby body. He offers a wide range of different procedures - both invasive and non-invasive - designed to safely achieve the enhancements they are looking for. So what is available for post-pregnancy women?

Invasive options

“Many women gain weight during pregnancy and more modern techniques allow me to do liposuction and a tummy tuck at the same time to get the best results possible,” Dr. Frederick says. “This way they are guaranteed to get the flat stomach and the waist they really want.”

And when it comes to the breast augmentation, there are several options available there too. “The breasts enlarge during pregnancy and during breast feeding, which stretches the skin, but then, after lactation stops, the fullness goes away and the excess skin stays behind,” Dr. Frederick explains. “I often replace that lost volume with an implant or take away the extra skin with a breast lift, also known as breast reduction. Sometimes both are needed so I perform an augmentation and a lift together to get the best shape.”

What about ‘down there’? This forgotten area can and should be spoken about when it comes to childbirth, and it is something Dr. Frederick deals with regularly.

Many women often overlook vaginal rejuvenation, but when they do talk about it, “common complaints are looseness and stress incontinence,” Dr. Frederick reports. “We now use ThermiVa®, a new radio frequency heating device that treats both!”

Women who might not have previously considered plastic surgery often find their interest piqued once they have given birth. If you are considering surgery after childbirth, book a consultation with a reputable plastic surgeon for your mommy makeover. This initial meeting will give you the chance to ask all of the questions you want in order to determine if you are a good candidate as well as the opportunity to devise your personalized treatment plan.

Mommy makeover surgery is a relatively quick fix for women who want to feel confident again, but just how safe are these procedures? As explained by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, no surgery is without risk. Regardless of the surgery type, it is important to use a trusted practitioner and talk through all the options before you commit.

“Everything we do is extremely safe,” Dr. Frederick shares. “We do everything under IV sedation so the patient is breathing on their own without a ventilator or a tube and they are never paralyzed. This decreases your risk of complications from anesthesia dramatically.”

Of course, any doctor would say plastic surgery is safe. But, you must remember that plastic surgery has been around a while - hundreds of years in fact! According to the UK’s NHS website, the earliest recorded rhinoplasty (nose job) took place in the 1400’s! Thankfully, things have progressed a bit since then. Today, plastic surgery in the United States is a medically driven industry, with the safety and comfort of patients being a priority.

That being said, post-childbirth seems like a vulnerable state for having invasive surgery. If you are a mom-to-be or have recently given birth, just how soon after the baby arrives can you go under the knife?

Dr. Frederick talks timing: “Most mothers do not get a mommy makeover for at least six months after delivery because being a mom is hard work. You want to wait until you are ready and have support because lifting the baby is a no-no after a tummy tuck and breast augmentation for about four weeks. Having these procedures should not affect your ability to have future children, although we recommend waiting until you are done having babies so that you don’t need to do it again.”

While liposuction and breast enhancement are commonly known procedures, you are unlikely aware of exactly what is involved, unless you have had the procedure yourself.

Many women will experience unwanted weight gain while they are pregnant that can prove difficult to get rid of through diet or exercise. Liposuction takes place under general or epidural anesthetic and helps to remove unwanted fat deposits by separating the fat cells using intense vibrations, laser pulses, or high pressure water. General anesthesia will put you to sleep, so you are unconscious throughout the entire procedure whereas epidural anesthesia is a local anesthetic made in the lower spine. The fat is then cyphoned out of the desired area - often the abdominal area - by making a small incision in the skin and sucking the newly loosened fat cells out with a tube. Any excess blood and fluids are removed and the wound is cleaned and stitched up.

There is also the option of putting the unwanted fat back into your body - in the breasts or buttocks for example. The healing time for liposuction varies from patient to patient, although most people will find they are back to normal after two to three weeks, and cost runs from $3,000-$20,000 on average.

Breast augmentation is another popular procedure for moms. Women who have gained weight during pregnancy or experience stretch marks on their breasts from breastfeeding may benefit from visiting a plastic surgeon. Breast augmentation involves adding breast implants or fat deposits to resize and reshape the breasts. A boob job, as its patients call it, costs around $3,800 and involved quite a long recovery period. The acute pain will last for a few days after the surgery and full recovery can take several weeks.

Designer vaginas are also a big industry, especially among women who have gone through childbirth. Vaginal rejuvenation can be a great option for women who experience unwanted changes in the vaginal region after childbirth. You can opt for invasive and non-invasive versions of the procedure. The surgical option covers a range of augmentations - from reshaping the labia to tightening the tube of the vagina - all of which come with their own considerations and risks. Typically, vaginal cosmetic surgery will come with a price tag of around $5,000-$8,000, with a healing time of around two to three weeks.

Non-invasive options

As expected, non-surgical options are cheaper and involve less invasive techniques. Fillers and laser procedures can be used to enhance sexual satisfaction and improve problems with incontinence that can occur after giving birth. These cost in the realm of $500-$1,000 and can take just a week to heal.

Compared to invasive options, non-invasive procedures may be undertaken sooner after childbirth, and even between children. There are lots of non-invasive ways to get the body you want and regain that pre-baby confidence.

For many women, one of the changes that happen when giving birth is the change in shape and feeling inside the vagina. Amanda admits, “my pelvic floor was compromised so I had to do physical therapy for that (awkward!).” A weaker pelvic floor can lead to a weakened bladder and, as mom Lainey admits, “my vagina still hurts during sex sometimes.” It is normal for some women to find their sex lives compromised as a result.

ThermiVa® is a non-invasive treatment designed to help tighten and re-sensitize the tissues inside the vaginal wall. It involves the use of a special heated wand which is gently moved around inside the vagina to help with incontinence and sexual function. Each treatment only takes about half an hour and most women find that three treatments is enough, which can total around $2,500 to $3,500.

Like many other mothers, Erin was surprised by the stretch marks she was left with post-pregnancy. Stretch marks often appear on the tummy, hips, boobs, or legs as a result of the stretching of skin, water retention, and weight gain during pregnancy. Stretch mark lasers offer a non-invasive and relatively painless way to remove them. Pulsed dye laser (PDL) treatment sends pulses into the stretch marks to help oxygenate it and return it to its original color. Microdermabrasion gently removes the top surface of skin leaving it smoother and without discoloration. Non-ablative lasers help the skin repair and heal and can even be used on older stretch marks. Each session of stretch mark laser costs around $300.

For loose skin, moms can use radio frequency (RF) skin tightening. This external treatment is available from several companies, such as Venus Freeze, Thermage®, VelaShape®, and Exilis, and uses RF heating to stimulate the skin’s natural collagen to smooth out lines and plump up sagging skin. RF skin tightening typically costs between $1,000 and $4,000.

Finally, moms can opt for CoolSculpting, which ‘freezes’ fat cells, causing them to die and melt away naturally over the week following the procedure. The treatment claims to be able to remove stubborn fat that diet and exercise are not affecting. CoolSculpting typically costs $2,000-$4,000 depending on the area being treated..

The risks associated with any cosmetic surgery are slightly increased if your body has recently gone through something as stressful as childbirth. It is impossible to determine all the risks involved in cosmetic surgery, but today, when correctly planned and undertaken by qualified professionals, the chance of complications is extremely low. Make sure you are fully aware of the risks before arranging your procedure and always consult with at least two medical professionals before you begin, to protect your health - and your wallet!

Dr. Frederick acknowledges that mommy makeover surgery is not for everyone. It is down to personal choice and you should make the decision according to what you personally need.

“Mommy makeovers are extremely popular,” Dr. Frederick explains. “The reality is that everyone’s body acts differently to pregnancy. Some women have a child and six months later look like they have never had one, some women have the complete opposite response. For those whose bodies are significantly changed by pregnancy, plastic surgery is really their only option to restore their body. In many cases, even the most motivated patient cannot achieve their goals with diet and exercise alone.”

More and more women have found that plastic surgery of one form or another can be great for boosting their confidence and self-esteem after childbirth. There is no need to commit to surgery until you are 100% sure about it and have found a qualified medical professional. Fortunately, most medical practices offer free consultations to discuss any concerns, determine if you would be a good fit for the procedure, and review photo galleries of past clients’ final results.

Once you have met with a board certified plastic surgeon, have gotten a full understanding of cost and risks, and have found a way to make time for recovery in your busy life as a mother, you are ready to go!

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