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Pregnancy has an effect on the female’s body that is unriveled in men. Stretching of the abdominal muscles and skin and enlargement of the breasts followed by an overall deflation with delivery usually causes irreversible tissue changes. Many of these tissues pass the elastic deformation stage from which there is no snapback or return to normal tissue integrity and tightness. When the process is repeated more than once, such tissue changes become even more pronounced.

As a result, plastic surgeons have addressed these breast and abdominal changes for a long time through a variety of procedures. Breast implants combined with lifts and various forms of tummy tucks with liposuction are used to help reverse the pregnancy-induced changes. While major body improvements can be achieved, some women end up with even better body contours than before the pregnancy process began.

This combination of breast and abdominal surgeries after a woman has finished having children has become known as Mommy Makeover. This term does not necessarily describe any specific operation(s) but is a marketing concept that implies combined multiple body site surgery. Striking a nerve for pregnancy reversal, it is a concept that many women have come to embrace. More and more women are having combined breast and abdominal procedures than ever before if their finances make it possible. This can be seen in the substantial increase in the number of breast lifts/implants and tummy tucks done every year over the past decade.  Some of this increase is the increased awareness and desire to comprehensively address the post-pregnancy body, a  very effective strategy to improve a woman’s self-esteem and operative satisfaction.

When breast and abdominal reshaping procedures are done separately, they are simpler with less recovery and risk of complications. But when combined, additional considerations need to be taken. The amount of recovery is going to be more substantial. While every women is different, it may be four to six weeks until one can return to work and be back to most normal activities. It is more stressful on the body and issues of good nutrition and cessation of smoking before the procedure is crucial. Surgery is going to take longer and one might be advised to stay overnite in the surgical facility.

Operating on two body areas simultaneously also increases the overall risk of complications such as bleeding, infection and minor wound healing issues. But even more relevantly is that the risk of aesthetic concerns and the potential desire for revisional surgery is increased. While one’s body shape will definitely be improved, multiple site surgery induces many factors that make the exact final body result unpredictable. A perfect result is very difficult to achieve in a single breast or abdominal reshaping procedure, but is impossible in multiple site surgery. Most women come to accept the minor asymmetries and scars that result from a Mommy Makeover.

As Mommy Makeover surgery continues to grow in popularity and numbers of procedures performed, it is important to appreciate that it is more than just a catchy phrase. The end result can be very satisfying but it is substantial surgery that requires adequate time for recovery and awareness that revisional surgery may be needed to obtain the best result possible.  

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana   

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