While the experience of giving birth and having a child can be a wonderful and rewarding one, the reality is that pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause significant unwanted changes in the body. These may include sagging breasts and enlarged areolas, less definition in the waist, sagging and pockets of fat in the abdomen, and stretch marks. While some of these may improve over time, such as stretched or sagging skin and loose muscles, the simple fact is that the body never fully returns to its pre-pregnancy state.
Fortunately, plastic surgery can help to restore a more youthful contour to the breasts and abdomen. There are several procedures available which are often referred to collectively as the “mommy makeover” or post-maternity breast and body reshaping. These include the breast lift, breast reduction, tummy tuck and liposuction.
Following pregnancy and breastfeeding, many women experience unwanted changes in the breasts including sagging, decreased volume, uneven breasts, drooping nipples and stretched or enlarged areolas. These changes can be improved with the breast lift. Also referred to as mastopexy, this surgical procedure removes excess skin and tightens the supporting tissues to restore a more youthful and uplifted shape to the breasts. The breasts will appear more elevated and firmer following surgery. In addition, enlarged areolas may be reduced in size if necessary. For women desiring larger or more fuller breasts, the breast lift can be combined with breast augmentation with implants. Conversely, breast reduction may be performed with the breast lift for those seeking a reduction in breast size.
While most women experience a reduction in breast size leading to sagging after pregnancy and breastfeeding, some women are left with breasts that remain larger than desired. For these women, breast reduction surgery can help by returning the breasts to their smaller, pre-pregnancy size. This can help to relieve symptoms commonly associated with large breast, including pain, rashes, breathing problems, improper posture, skeletal deformities, and poor self-esteem. Breast reduction is a surgical procedure in which excess fat and glandular tissue are removed and the remaining skin is tightened. The result is smaller, lighter breasts that are more proportionate to the rest of the body. It should be noted that women who are planning to breastfeed in the future should postpone the surgery as many of the milk ducts leading to the nipples are removed.
Pregnancy often takes its greatest toll on the abdomen, where stretching and weakening of the skin and muscles in the abdomen and waist can lead to loose skin, less definition in the waist, and stretch marks. These unwanted changes are often resistance to even the best attempts at diet and exercise. Abdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck, can help by restoring a flatter, more toned appearance to the abdomen and waist. This surgical procedure removes excess skin and tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall. This may be combined with liposuction to address areas of fat in the abdomen or flanks. For patients planning future pregnancy, it may be recommended that surgery be postponed as future pregnancy can diminish the results of the tummy tuck.
For some women, pregnancy leaves them with pockets of fat in the lower abdomen and decreased definition in the waistline that cannot be improved with diet or exercise. In addition, women who have undergone a C-section are often left with an area of fat that hangs over the surgical scar. In these cases, liposuction can help by removing excess fat from the abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs and/or waist. Liposuction can sculpt the body after pregnancy for a slimmer, more contoured shape. Several newer methods of liposuction exist today which generally offer benefits over traditional liposuction. These include ultrasound-assisted lipectomy (UAL) and suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL), both of which involve the injection of a special fluid into the treatment area prior to the removal of fat. Incisions made for liposuction are very small and inconspicuously placed so that the resultant scars are undetectable. Through these incisions, a small tube called a cannula is inserted to break up the fat which is then suctioned out.