Giving birth can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a woman’s life. Unfortunately, pregnancy and breast-feeding often result in unwanted changes in a woman’s body, such as drooping breasts, enlarged areolas, a straighter waist, pockets of fat in the abdomen, stretch marks, and a sagging tummy that no amount of exercise and dieting seems to fix. The loose muscles and stretched skin improve somewhat over time, but the body never completely returns to the way it was before pregnancy.
It used to be that women were resigned to living with these natural changes in their bodies. Now, however, more and more women are seeking out plastic surgeons to rejuvenate their breasts and tummies to the youthful firmness they enjoyed before having children. These procedures are collectively called “mommy makeovers” or post-maternity breast and body reshaping.
Mommy Makeovers: Breast Lift
The aftermath of pregnancy can leave you with sagging breasts, uneven breasts, lost breast volume, drooping nipples and stretched areolas (the dark skin surrounding the nipple). A breast lift, or mastopexy, is performed to reverse these changes and return a youthful shape and lift to your breasts. This is accomplished by trimming excess skin and tightening supporting tissues to achieve an uplifted, youthful contour. After a mastopexy, the breasts are higher on the chest and firmer to the touch. Breast lifts after pregnancy can also reduce areolar size and reposition downward-pointing nipples.
Your post-maternity breast lift will be tailored to you, depending on your individual case and goals. Breast size does not change after a breast lift, nor does the fullness or roundness in the upper part of the breasts. Women who desire larger, smaller or more rounded breasts may want to consider a breast augmentation or breast reduction together with a breast lift.
Mommy Makeovers: Breast Reduction
Most women find that their breasts swell to a fuller size and shape while they are pregnant. Afterwards, a natural reduction in breast size leaves some women with the empty-looking, drooping breasts discussed above in the breast lift section. For many other women, however, the breasts remain larger than desired after childbirth. Breast reduction surgery may be the solution in these cases.
One reason women may seek breast reduction after giving birth is to return the breasts to the smaller size they had before becoming pregnant. In addition, breast reduction can relieve the common symptoms of large breasts, such as pain, improper posture, rashes, breathing problems, skeletal deformities and low self-esteem. Breast reduction achieves these goals by removing fat and glandular tissue and tightening skin to produce smaller, lighter breasts that are in a healthier proportion to the rest of the body.
Note: Breast reduction surgery is not recommended for women who intend to breast-feed in the future, since many of the milk ducts leading to the nipples are removed.
Mommy Makeovers: Tummy Tuck
Perhaps nowhere else on the body is pregnancy more unforgiving than in the abdomen. By stretching and weakening the skin and muscles of the tummy and waist, pregnancy can leave you with loose skin, stretch marks and a straighter waistline that no amount of exercise will correct. A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, can help.
Tummy tucks help to flatten and shape the abdomen and waist by removing excess skin and tightening muscles. The result is a firmer tummy and more defined waistline.
Women who also suffer from areas of fat in the abdomen or flanks after pregnancy may benefit from liposuction.
Note: Results from the tummy tuck procedure will likely diminish if women continue to bear children, so we advise patients who plan to become pregnant to delay abdominoplasty.
Mommy Makeovers: Liposuction
New mothers may find that they have pockets of fat in the lower abdomen that don’t respond to diet or exercise. They may also find that they have lost definition in their waistline. Women who had C-sections may also suffer from areas of fat hanging over their surgical scar. Each of these post-maternity body changes can be improved through liposuction.
Liposuction sculpts the body after pregnancy by removing undesirable, resistant fat from the abdomen, waist, hips, buttocks and/or thighs. It offers the opportunity to slim and contour areas of the body that did not “spring back” to their pre-baby tone. With liposuction, you can minimize areas of fat caused by pregnancy and enhance the curve of the waistline.
There are several different methods surgeons use when performing liposuction, including ultrasound-assisted lipectomy (UAL) and suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL). In both types, fluid is injected into the area to be treated. Then a tiny incision is made in as inconspicuous a place as possible, and a cannula (small tube) breaks up the fat layer and suctions it out.