We all know that pregnancy changes the shape and size of the body—anyone who has ever seen a pregnant woman knows just how much the belly has to expand to accommodate a growing baby. What many women don’t realize, however, is what a lasting impact these changes can have on the body. As a culture, we’re so used to seeing celebrity moms snap back into shape virtually overnight that we believe our bodies will do the same. Unfortunately, for many women, this simply isn’t the case. While some mothers (usually very young moms who have excellent genes) suffer few cosmetic consequences as a result of carrying a child, most moms are left with one or more lasting issues.
How Does Pregnancy Damage the Body?
While some of the physical changes that arise from pregnancy (like significant weight gain) can be reversed via diet and exercise, others require surgical intervention. Moms often experience one or more of the following complications after pregnancy:
Flat, deflated looking breasts.
It’s not uncommon for the breasts to grow three or more cup sizes during pregnancy. While some women retain some of this breast growth once they are done breastfeeding, more often than not, the breasts shrink back to their original size. In some cases, the breasts become smaller than they were prior to pregnancy; this happens because the mammary gland sometimes shrinks after it stops producing milk. In either case, because the skin of the breasts stretches to accommodate the size increase that comes along with pregnancy, the woman in question no longer has enough breast volume to fill out the skin. As a result, the breasts look flat and saggy.
While many creams promise to lift and firm the bust, the sad fact is that none of them really work. Creams are absorbed by the upper layer of the dermis long before they can reach the supportive tissues beneath it, so their effects are literally only skin deep. They may make your skin feel smoother and slightly firmer, but they can’t turn back time and “unstretch” the skin. Once extra skin is present, it needs to be surgically removed—there’s no other way to get rid of it.
Loose skin on the stomach, along with stretch marks and a distinct tummy “pouch.”
Many women assume that once they have done the hard work of losing their baby weight, their stomach will return to its prior flatness, or something close to it. They are therefore dismayed to find that they still have a distinct muffin top even once they have returned to their pre-pregnancy weight. What’s more, they may discover that their lower belly “sticks out” in an unflattering way.
What these women are seeing is not necessarily excess fat. Instead, it’s usually the combined effect of loose skin and damaged abdominal muscles. Just as the breasts need to develop more skin to cope with pregnancy-related growth, so does the stomach. And of course, because the stomach grows even more than the breasts, it tends to develop an even worse problem with loose skin—not to mention unsightly rows of deep stretch marks. This loose skin may be plentiful enough to cause the formation of distinct “folds.”
The rapid expansion of the abdominal cavity also frequently causes the tissue that connects the two lateral halves of the abdominal muscles to tear. Once this tissue has been torn, it usually cannot effectively repair itself. Exercise won’t repair it, either. Without functional connective tissue, the lateral portions of the abdominal muscles cannot work together in unison. This makes it impossible to tone them up again through exercise alone. The placement of surgical sutures, during tummy tuck surgery, is required to give this band of tissue the support it needs to heal fully. Only then will the patient be able to tone her abdomen up through targeted exercise.
Stubborn fat deposits.
It’s not uncommon for women to develop new deposits of fat (usually on the lower stomach, thighs, and flanks) during pregnancy. These fat deposits can prove to be incredibly resistant to the effects of diet and exercise. The body tenaciously holds onto them because they are meant to act as “emergency reserves” for nursing mothers in the event of a food shortage. However, because such food shortages seldom occur in the developed world, many women end up carrying around unwanted fat they cannot get rid of without engaging in unhealthy, extreme dieting.
How Can a Mommy Makeover Help?
The term “mommy makeover” refers to a package of different surgical procedures bundled together for the convenience of the patient. These packages often allow the patient to save both time and money (as compared to getting all these procedures done individually). What exactly a mommy makeover entails varies from surgeon to surgeon, but most practitioners focus on surgically revitalizing the areas hardest hit by pregnancy: The breasts and the stomach. A mommy makeover usually includes one or more of the following procedures:
During a breast lift, loose skin is surgically removed from the breasts so that there’s only enough skin present to cover the patient’s existing breast tissue. Sometimes the patient’s nipples are also surgically altered. If they have started to point “south” rather than “north,” the surgeon will usually move them so that they sit higher on the breasts. This surgery restores the breasts to their pre-pregnancy perkiness. Indeed, in many cases, it improves the shape of the breasts so much that they end up looking better post-procedure than they did before pregnancy. Note, however, that this procedure is not intended to increase breast volume. The breasts will be slightly smaller after this operation owing to the removal of loose skin.
Some women discover during pregnancy that they prefer having larger breasts. As such, for these women, breast augmentation is a natural step to take once their breasts return to their pre-pregnancy size. Breast augmentation can both increase the size of the breasts and improve their shape.
While many women are sorry to lose the extra breast volume that they developed during pregnancy, others have the opposite problem: Their breasts grow to an uncomfortably large size and stay that way even after they have finished breastfeeding. While this issue is much less common than breast shrinkage and sagging, it does occasionally happen. Ergo, many mommy makeover packages include the option of having breast reduction surgery. During breast reduction surgery, both excess volume and loose skin are removed from the breasts. The nipples are often placed higher on the breasts to give them a perkier appearance.
Tummy tuck surgery
Tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, is one of the most important parts of nearly every mommy makeover. During tummy tuck surgery, the surgeon makes a long incision along the bikini line; doing so allows him or her to remove a large portion of loose skin, making the stomach smooth and taut again. Stretch marks are often removed and/or smoothed out during this process, too. Sometimes liposuction is also incorporated into this procedure to remove any stubborn leftover baby weight that simply will not budge.
While the patient’s abdominal skin is lifted, the surgeon will examine the abdominal muscles for signs of separation. If there has been damage to the tissue that connects the muscles, the surgeon will place sutures in the tissue, enabling it to heal.
In addition to playing a part in tummy tuck surgery, liposuction can be used to get rid of stubborn fat deposits on the hips, thighs, back, flanks, etc.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Mommy Makeover?
Having a mommy makeover confers numerous benefits, both physical and emotional in nature:
1. Having a mommy makeover can prevent lower back pain, hernias, and incontinence.
Damaged abdominal muscles do more than just ruin your “bikini body.” They also leave the lower back and the abdominal cavity vulnerable to damage, as the abdominal muscles play a vital role in supporting these areas. Without strong abdominal muscles, you’ll be at risk of developing a painful condition known as a “sway back,” where the lower back dips inward. Women who have given birth via cesarean section are particularly prone to developing this problem. Furthermore, you’ll have a higher risk of developing a ventral hernia—a dangerous issue that occurs when tissue within the abdominal cavity protrudes through the abdominal wall. Fortunately, by healing the abdominal muscles, tummy tuck surgery can prevent these complications. Tummy tuck surgery can also sometimes correct stress urinary incontinence, which sometimes affects women who have given birth vaginally (owing to the stress childbirth places on the tissues around the bladder).
2. Having a mommy makeover can improve your relationship with your family.
Because the changes brought on by pregnancy are so rapid, many women are shocked by how different their body looks after they have given birth. This can lead to a sudden reduction in confidence that negatively impacts her relationship with her partner. She may not feel desirable anymore and will therefore avoid most forms of intimate contact. This places even more stress on her marriage at a time when sleep deprivation and busy schedules are probably already taking a toll.
Likewise, women who feel like their body was “ruined” by having children may start to resent their children, either consciously or subconsciously. This can gradually damage the parent-child relationship.
By having a mommy makeover, a woman can protect herself and her marriage against these unwanted effects. What’s more, having a mommy makeover is a powerful act of putting one’s self first. It acknowledges the need for self-care and allows a woman to regain full control over her own body.
3. Better mental health
Research has shown that unwanted physical changes can increase a woman’s risk of suffering from depression in the months and years after her baby is born. Women are already at risk of post-partum depression owing to the sudden drop in hormone levels that accompanies giving birth, so this effect should not be ignored.
4. Enhanced ability to exercise.
In addition to making sure the abdominal muscles are repaired and ready for action, a mommy makeover can make exercise far more comfortable to engage in. Women who have a mommy makeover are both less self-conscious about slipping into exercise gear and less likely to suffer from chafing as a result of loose skin and fat deposits.
If you want to recover from the stresses of pregnancy and begin the next chapter of your life in a state of physical and emotional health, then having a mommy makeover can help you get started on your journey. For more information on what we offer as part of our mommy makeover package, feel free to contact us.