If you visit a playground, you’ll see them everywhere: slender women with smooth contours and great skin, each with two or three kids in tow. Looking tired and unsatisfied with your body after pregnancy has become a thing of the past. With treatments for the face (including minimally invasive PrecisionTx™ laser for skin tightening, fat removal from the jowls and neck, use of fillers and fat transfers, necklifts and lower facelift), and for the body (variations on the mommy makeover) growing in popularity here in Chicago, women are able to return to their pre-baby bodies much more quickly and easily than ever before.
The mommy makeover has emerged as the procedure of choice for women finished having children. They assess the changes to their bodies from events like pregnancy, nursing, and a career and sometimes aren’t thrilled with the physical changes they have experienced:
- Stretched abdominal muscles: As a baby grows, it forces the uterus against the inside of the muscle wall of the abdomen. The two vertical muscles that hold in the tummy (the “six-pack muscles”) may be stretched apart in a condition called diastasis recti, which results in a bulge that cannot be fixed with diet and exercise alone. The muscle itself is not stretched, but the fascia which envelopes the muscle becomes elongated. Only surgery can bring the muscles back together again.
- Misshapen breasts: Breasts increase in size during pregnancy and breastfeeding but after nursing, they often decrease to a size smaller than before the pregnancy. This commonly leads to stretch marks and hanging breasts. Even if the size does not change, the stretching during pregnancy results in loss of superior pole fullness and loss of “perkiness”.
- Weight gain and loss of muscle tone: The daily routine of caring for children doesn’t lend itself to maintaining a regular workout schedule. Hectic life with children often rules out the “me time” needed for an exercise regimen. This diminished focus on fitness can lead to this loss in muscle tone and weight gain, especially around the lower abdomen.
Most women who come to me for postpartum surgery are focused on getting firmer, flatter abdomens and more youthful-looking breasts. For them, a tummy tuck combined with breast surgery is the standard mommy makeover package.
However, it’s important to consider the whole body when seeking effective and satisfying results. While mommy makeovers can provide these enhancements for the abdomen, some women find even greater results when they also undergo facial procedures, such as brow lift, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), and laser skin rejuvenation.
These facial treatments may not necessarily be timed to coincide with a mommy makeover, but may be an option for patients a few years later to address some common issues:
- Loss of facial volume: With aging, the production of collagen in the skin slows, resulting in more hollow facial features and a less youthful appearance.
- Sagging skin: Skin around the face can sag over time, especially around the cheeks and neck. The skin and underlying muscles can be tightened and treated to create a smoother neckline and reduce the excess skin. There are a variety of options depending on the severity of the problem, and patient’s desired solution. It is important to remember that a smaller procedure will give a lesser result, and it is important to tailor the best option for each individual patient, which requires that the surgeon have extensive experience with the full range of options.
- Appearance of tired eyes: Bags of excess fatty tissue form below the eyes as we age. Upper eyelids also begin to sag, creating the appearance of “tired eyes.” This can be treated by removing the excess tissue.
I encourage you to look through my before-and-after photo gallery to see how some of my patients have experienced the transformations I described above. From neck lift to blepharoplasty, I tailor each treatment to the individual patient’s unique needs for effective yet natural-looking results.
While a healthy lifestyle with a balance of diet and exercise can help with some of these concerns, plastic surgery is often the best way to get transformative results. For many patients, it’s also a jump-start that motivates their return to a healthy lifestyle — and their pre-baby bodies.