FAQs about "Mommy Makeover" Surgery — What Women Need to Know


Dr. Tara L. Huston

The number of women getting so-called Mommy Makeover procedures is on the rise, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Women had nearly 112,000 tummy tucks in 2010, up 85% since 2000; 90,000 breast lifts, up 70% since 2000; and 296,000 breast augmentations, up 39% since 2000.

"In the last decade we've seen women's attitudes about cosmetic surgery change. Today women are not afraid to admit that they love their children, but they wish their bodies looked the way they did before their first pregnancies. And they're not afraid to acknowledge that they may need a little help beyond a healthy diet and exercise," says ASPS President Phillip Haeck, MD.

Another trend is that the type of patient seeking Mommy Makeover plastic surgery is younger than a decade ago.

Here, Tara L. Huston, MD, assistant professor of surgery and a member of our Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division, answers a few of the frequently asked questions about Mommy Makeover surgery.

Q: What is a Mommy Makeover?

A: "Mommy Makeover" is a term used to describe rejuvenation of the breasts and abdomen. The goal is to address some of the common physical changes that can occur following pregnancy. On the breast, these most commonly include sagging and deflation. On the abdomen, it is often excess skin with stretch marks and bulging.

Q: Who is a good candidate for a Mommy Makeover?

A: A woman in overall good health who has completed her childbearing.

Q: What can I expect in my initial consultation?

A: Your plastic surgeon will ask about your general medical history and examine your areas of concern. This is the opportunity for you to discuss what bothers you. Together, you will devise a treatment plan that addresses your concerns and is surgically feasible.

Q: Is the Mommy Makeover done all at one time?

A: It can be done in one or two stages, depending on how many areas need to be addressed.

Q: What are the different options for a Mommy Makeover?

A: It is some combination of the following: breast lift, with or without augmentation; breast reduction (FAQs); abdominoplasty (also known as a tummy tuck); mini-abdominoplasty (mini tummy tuck); and liposuction.

Women should be specific about their post-baby body goals so that
their surgeon can recommend the most appropriate procedures.

Q: What happens during the Mommy Makeover surgery?

A: The breasts are lifted. If there is volume loss from pregnancy and breast feeding, this can be remedied with the addition of a breast implant. Alternatively, if the breasts are excessively large and causing discomfort, the size may be reduced. In an abdominoplasty, the abdominal muscles are tightened to strengthen the midsection and narrow the waist. Lastly, the excess lower abdominal skin with stretch marks is removed.

Q: Can I have more kids after my Mommy Makeover?

A: If more children are planned in the near future, it is better to wait, especially on the abdominoplasty. Additional pregnancies are possible following abdominoplasty. However, the final result may not be as good if the tissues are stretched again with another pregnancy.

Q: Will a caesarean section or hysterectomy affect Mommy Makeover results?

A: No, the incision for the abdominoplasty is at the same level on the lower abdomen. Some women have bothersome extra skin that hangs over their caesarean section or hysterectomy incision. An abdominoplasty can remove this scar and skin in order to smooth the contour.

Q: When is the best time to have a Mommy Makeover?

A: When childbearing is complete and a stable weight has been achieved. Significant weight gain or loss after surgery may diminish the final result.

Q: I have a hernia. Can an abdominoplasty be done at the same time as the hernia repair?

A: Hernias at the belly button are very common in women who have had multiple pregnancies or twin/triplet pregnancies. These hernias can be addressed by a general surgeon during the same operation. This combined procedure allows the patient to have a single recovery. Our Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division and General Surgery Division work closely to assist patients with this.

Q: What are the risks of Mommy Makeover surgery?

A: The risks are similar to most major operations. They include wound healing, bleeding, infection, and seroma (fluid collection) formation.

Q: What will prepare me for surgery?

A: The best way to prepare for an operation is to understand why you are having the operation, what exactly will be performed, and what your results are likely to be. If there are medical issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes, these should be well controlled prior to surgery.

Smokers need to stop smoking in order to decrease the risk of wound healing issues. All patients should be nicotine free for at least six weeks prior to and after surgery.

Women who have a Mommy Makeover often say their new and
improved body not only enhances their looks, but also their attitude.

Q: Where are the incisions?

A: The incisions will depend upon the procedures chosen and the techniques utilized by your surgeon. In general, for a breast lift, there is a circular incision around the areola which is carried straight down toward the fold under the breast. It is sometimes called a "lollipop" scar, as this is the shape. Placement of an implant (augmentation) can be done through this same incision if needed. For the abdominoplasty, there is a linear incision from hip bone to hip bone which can be hidden under the bikini line. Depending on the type of abdominoplasty, there may or may not be a circular scar around the belly button, as well.

Q: Will I have scars?

A: Yes, it is not possible to perform these operations without making incisions and leaving scars. Once the incisions are fully healed, your plastic surgeon will instruct you as to how to minimize the scars and help them fade over time. With careful operative technique and attention to scar management post-operatively, it is our goal to have the finest, smallest scar as possible.

Q: What can I expect after surgery?

A: Depending on the types of surgeries chosen and whether the breast, abdomen, or both are addressed, recovery times will vary. You may go home the same day. Alternatively, your plastic surgeon may recommend an overnight stay if extensive surgery was performed, or if you have other medical issues. Recovery can range from one to four weeks in most cases.

Most patients are elated with their new and improved contours after surgery.

Q: When can I resume normal activities after Mommy Makeover?

A: It is helpful to have friends and family available to assist you in caring for children for the first week after surgery. Recovery can range from one to four weeks in most cases.

Q: How long do I need off from a desk job after a Mommy Makeover?

A: Two to four weeks is the average. Some women feel better sooner and choose to return to work one week after surgery. Patients are asked to refrain from heavy lifting for one month.

Q: How much does a Mommy Makeover cost?

A: Cost varies by location and consists of three components: professional fee for the surgeon, professional fee for anesthesia, and the cost of the operating room. Insurance companies do not cover the costs associated with these operations. They are considered cosmetic procedures. Most plastic surgeons have financing plans available.

The one exception is breast reduction. If the breasts are very large, causing shoulder, back, and neck pain, the insurance company will often cover breast reduction surgery to alleviate these symptoms. You should check with your plastic surgeon to see if you would be a candidate for a breast reduction, and the surgeon can work with you and your insurance company.

Q: What is the Stony Brook difference for patients who have a Mommy Makeover?

A: All of our plastic surgeons are board certified in plastic surgery. This certification is relevant because many physicians who are not trained in plastic surgery are now doing "cosmetic surgery." These physicians have not received the approved education, nor have they completed an examination process designed to assess the knowledge, experience, and skills required to provide high-quality patient care in plastic surgery.

Women may put themselves at greater risk when using these non-certified physicians, many of whom are not even surgeons. The results of their work may be disappointing, even disfiguring, or lethal.

Another distinguishing factor about the care we provide is that our plastic surgeons are true leaders in the field of plastic surgery. They not only provide cosmetic and reconstructive services but conduct research to advance the art of plastic surgery. Some of this research focuses on patient safety and surgical outcomes. What they have discovered allows them to incorporate the most novel surgical techniques with a safe surgical environment in order to provide our patients with the best surgical outcomes.

Click here for more information about the plastic surgeons and the plastic surgery services at Stony Brook Medicine.