Some moms are eager – to say the least – to get back their pre-pregnancy bodies. Learn about the most common procedures women are ordering up today.
Looked in the mirror lately? Pregnancy, breastfeeding and simply raising a child takes a considerable toll on a woman’s body, often resulting in a loss of breast tissue, excess or sagging skin and a host of new facial wrinkles. However, an increasing number of women are opting for surgical procedures aimed at reversing the physical effects of motherhood.
Thanks to TV programs like Dr. 90210 and Extreme Makeover, these so called “Mommy Makeovers” are coming out of the closet and into the mainstream. In fact, more than 325,000 tummy tuck, breast augmentation and breast lift procedures were performed on women ages 20 – 39 in 2006. That’s an 11 percent increase from the previous year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). There were 4.1 million Botox procedures performed last year – an 8 percent increase from 2005.
Nashville-based plastic surgeon Joseph DeLozier, M.D., has been in practice for 16 years and says he has definitely seen an increase in 30- to 40-something females who long to see their pre-baby figures again. “Plastic surgery is coming out of the ‘don’t talk about it’ phase,” he says. “I promise you, if guys had babies, this would have been out of the closet a long time ago.”
Deborah D. Sherman, M.D., a clinical professor at Vanderbilt University and opthalmic plastic surgeon says, “A national survey found that Botox is most popular with mothers age 40 – 55 with one to three children. I have celebrity patients, but more who are soccer moms and working mothers.”
Last year’s most popular surgical cosmetic procedure among women was breast augmentation. DeLozier says the number of children a woman bears, how long she breastfeeds and how much weight she gains during pregnancy can all affect the firmness of her breast tissue.
Franklin mom Deidre Carmen says nursing her two children to a total of 18 months left her breasts flatter and droopier. “I spent a year-and-a-half nursing babies round-the-clock and felt that implants were a way to give something back to myself,” she says. “I didn’t do it to look sexy, just to get back to normal.”
Breast augmentation is an outpatient surgery that costs anywhere from $5,000 – $7,000 and should only occur after a woman has stopped breastfeeding for about 6 months, so her milk ducts have completely closed. However, women with implants can absolutely nurse a new baby if they reside behind the chest muscle. Women with very young children may want to consider the fact that lifting anything heavier than five pounds is prohibited for a few weeks after surgery. That can make recovery more difficult for moms of crawlers.
Every woman has a trouble spot where fat settles and simply won’t budge. That’s probably why 268,000 liposuction procedures took place in 2006, making it the second most popular plastic surgery option for females. Fees range from $2,000 – $8,000 with the cost dependent on how many areas are treated. Recovery normally takes just a few days, and most patients return to work within a day or so. Medical sales rep J.G. (who prefers to remain anonymous) says of her surgery, “I expected to feel sore and battered for days or weeks afterward, but by the next night I was out to dinner and enjoying myself with friends!”
Doctors stress that liposuction is best for localized troublesome fat deposits in areas commonly found in the abdomen, buttocks and thighs, but it’s not an effective tool for weight loss. Overweight patients who opt for liposuction frequently regain their weight if they don’t alter their diet and exercise habits.
For women like 48-year-old Christine R. who “did sit ups, leg lifts and everything you can possibly think of” but still noticed “problem areas where it just wouldn’t go away,” liposuction was a good solution. “I can wear clothes I couldn’t wear before, and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat,” she says.
It’s really no surprise that in 2004, 96 percent of abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, patients were women, and more than half of those patients were ages 35 – 50. A tummy tuck is an operation that removes excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen while tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall. It’s a procedure growing in popularity with mothers who’s skin and core muscles stretched out during pregnancy never returning to their previous shape despite diet and exercise.
“The need for a tummy tuck isn’t related to how much weight you gain during pregnancy,” says DeLozier. He explains that just as some women get stretch marks and others don’t, some women’s skin doesn’t tighten up after childbirth.
Abdominoplasty is major surgery that can take several hours and may require a hospital stay, although some partial tummy tucks are done on an outpatient basis. Many patients require drains for fluid and most need help at home for a few days afterward. Full recovery takes several weeks. Typically, the cost of an abdominoplasty falls between $3,000 – $10,000.
Physicians recommend that women wait until they are finished having children before embarking on tummy tucks since subsequent pregnancies can stretch muscles and skin again. DeLozier says waiting until your family is complete “is a good idea, but not a disaster if you don’t.” He assures women that getting pregnant after a tummy tuck won’t hurt the child in any way. “Mom might need some tightening after her last child, though.”
More and more busy moms who want to turn back the hands of time on their face without surgery are turning to injectable cosmetic products like Botox, Restylane and JuvÃ©derm to erase wrinkles, furrows and worry lines that time etches into their faces.
Ten years after it initially hit the market, Botox is one of the most popular cosmetic medical procedures in the United States; 1.6 million Americans received injections in 2001, according to the ASPS, and Christy Collins of Franklin was one of them. A mother of three, Collins says she uses Botox to smooth out the wrinkles in her forehead and the frown lines (known in the cosmetic industry as “the 11”) between her eyes. “It doesn’t hurt,” she says. “It’s just a pinch.”
Botox costs anywhere from $200 – $1,000 per injection, with a rough average around $400, and the effects last from two to six months. While some may balk at the cost of this temporary fix, Sherman says that many of her clients point out that during the course of four months, it costs the same as a daily grande latte from a coffee shop. And like a coffee break, an injection of Botox or facial filler like Restylane or Juvederm takes only 30 minutes and can be accomplished during a lunch break.
Making the Choice
Remember that for all its glamour and recent popularity, plastic surgery often involves general anesthesia and stitches, so there is a degree of pain and risk involved with any procedure. Keep in mind that everyone’s body and needs are different, so don’t choose a surgeon based on someone else’s results. Visit several doctors in your area to determine which one is the best for you.
Sherman says, “Check the doctor’s credentials. Is this procedure his specialty? How many has he performed?” DeLozier suggests that patients bring their spouses to the initial consultation so both parties understand the risks and rewards. He says, “That kind of buy in on both sides makes recovery smoother.”
Ask to see plenty of before and after pictures, and make sure your doctor listens to your questions. Determine if pre-operative tests like mammograms or blood work are included in the quoted price. Find out if the potential physician offers after-hours advice for post-operative questions or concerns. But above all, make sure you feel entirely at ease with the person who could change the way you look forever.
Deborah Bohn is a local mom and frequent contributor to this publication.
10 Questions to Ask Your Surgeon Before Surgery
- What are your credentials and training?
- How many procedures of this type have you performed?
- Are there alternatives to surgery?
- What do I need to do to prepare for surgery?
- What are the risks?
- How can I better manage post-surgical side effects and complications?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- Will my recovery keep me from my usual, daily activities or child rearing?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure?
- Estimated cost?
Source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons