I’m tired of lists, so today I’m approaching a different topic. Often I’ll have patients ask me about topics from the popular press, and I find myself Googling the term (e.g. vampire facelift) just so I can understand what it is in medical terms before I explain it back to them in layman’s terms. So today I’m going to explain a popular term that’s been around for several years- the Mommy Makeover.
The term “Mommy Makeover” first entered the popular press around 10 years ago, although it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of the term. The phrase itself is directed at women who have just finished their childbearing years, and do not plan to have more children. The idea is a single operation that restores them to their pre-pregnancy body. So what is that operation?
That’s the tough part, because the answer is different for everyone. In general, however, surgery addresses two main body areas: the abdomen and the breasts.
1. The abdomen. After having kids, bellies get stretched out. There’s often a little fat left in the lower abdomen, and the abdominal muscles themselves are further apart (the six-pack you would have if you went to the gym every day). There are a couple ways to approach this:
- A mini-abdominoplasty (or mini-tummy tuck). This just removes the excess fat and skin below the belly button.
- A full-abdominoplasty. In addition to removing excess fat and skin, the abdominal muscles are tightened, and the belly-button is “transposed”. It’s not actually moved to a new position, but so much skin is removed that a new opening is made for the belly button to come out through.
2. The breasts. Whether you breast-feed or not, the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy often cause the breasts to look deflated and flattened. This can also be fixed in a couple of ways.
- An augmentation with breast implants will replace lost volume. Sometimes this extra volume is enough to raise the breasts back to where they were pre-pregnancy.
- A mastopexy (or breast lift). This procedure removes the excess, stretched skin, lifting the breasts to their pre-pregnancy position. Sometimes a lift is enough to achieve that youthful, pre-pregnancy look. Sometimes breast implants are still needed to replace volume, and this is done in combination with a lift.
As you can see, a “Mommy Makeover” is not a one-size fits all type of operation. It’s more of a description of the problem areas that are approached. Since the goal is to restore your body to what it looked like before you had children, it addresses the areas which change the most during pregnancy- the breasts and the abdomen. But how these areas are addressed is specific to each individual patient. And if you have other problem areas, for example saddle-bags in the thighs, these areas may be addressed as well with other techniques such as liposuction.
Are there other terms in the popular press that you have found confusing? Would you like clarification on what these terms mean?