American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Mommy makeover – when diet and exercise aren't enough

Motherhood is one of life's greatest joys, with beautiful highs and lows. We experience the wonder of bringing new lives into this world and watching our little ones grow. On the other hand, we also experience the frustrations that come with being a parent. Just ask any mom or dad with a toddler!

Another set of challenges we face as women are the physical consequences of motherhood. To be more specific, we must deal with the permanent changes that pregnancy and childbirth inflict on our breasts and bodies.

How our bodies change with motherhood

With each pregnancy, our bodies store fat more efficiently to make it available for our precious little ones during pregnancy and lactation. All told, this could be several pounds of fat. Not only does the body increase our fat stores during pregnancy, but hormonal changes in preparation for breastfeeding increase the size and volume of our breasts. Whether you decide to breastfeed or not, your breasts will change.

After pregnancy and after breastfeeding, the breasts can eventually return to their original size and shape, but the effects vary for each woman. Some of us deflate to breast sizes even smaller than before, whereas others stay slightly larger or return to a similar size. Regardless, the stretched out skin over the post-pregnancy breast can change both the look and feel from what we were before.

The most profound changes are often in the belly, where our beautiful bodies protected and grew those little bundles of joy. Each pregnancy stretches out the tissue starting with the abdominal muscles extending to the skin on top, all while we are increasing fat storage in and around these areas.

These muscles of our "six pack" or abdominal core often stay separated ("diastasis recti") and stretched out after one or more pregnancies. Despite our best efforts at abdominal crunches and core workouts, it can be difficult for moms to get their abs back to the previous position and muscle tone.

What's a mother to do?

Do not despair, there's good news! An active lifestyle with a proper diet and regular exercise is a smart first step. This will go a long way towards establishing a healthy, vibrant life and reversing some of the metabolic changes from pregnancy.

However, I will be very honest here. Even the best diet and exercise regimen may not be enough to reverse some of the permanent changes to our bodies after pregnancy. This is where a mommy makeover procedure can help.

A mommy makeover can help restore your pre-pregnancy shape

A mommy makeover is a combination of different plastic surgery procedures to address post-pregnancy changes to our breasts and bodies. In most cases it involves liposuction, a breast lift (with or without breast augmentation) and a tummy tuck. A mommy makeover helps us remove persistent fat deposits, reshape and lift the breasts, tighten the abdominal core and remove excess skin from the belly.

How does each surgical technique address the different target areas? Your plastic surgeon can sculpt the waistline and remove fat deposits here with liposuction, but that alone does not address the stretched out skin and muscles. That's where the tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty comes in. Whether it is a mini tummy tuck or a full tummy tuck, your plastic surgeon will tighten the loose, separated muscles and remove the extra skin with stretch marks below your belly button. As you look at your breasts, you can discuss the best approach with your plastic surgeon. For example, you might want more volume and a lift, or you might wish for the same volume, just lifted back up to where it used to be on your chest.

When is the right time to have a mommy makeover?

Sometimes all the exercise in world won't get us back to that pre-pregnancy shape we remember so well. When considering a mommy makeover, to achieve the most long-lasting result, it's best if you've had all your children and have finished breastfeeding your last child for several months.

You will want to be at a stable weight after you have maximized your lifestyle changes with an optimized diet and exercise regimen. When you have hit the absolute peak in your weight loss plan, it might be the perfect time to consider this procedure.

When you are ready, make sure you seek out a board-certified plastic surgeon to perform your mommy makeover. For years you have done what is best for your little ones. Now do what's best for you.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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