Mommy Makeover

Scott E. Kasden, MD
Article by
Dallas Plastic Surgeon

What is a “Mommy Make over”, is it new, and why am I hearing about it all the time?
©Scott E. Kasden, 2011

A mommy makeover is not really a new procedure; it is really a new name that refers to cosmetic procedures of the breast and abdomen that are performed at the same time.

For the most part, when people talk about the mommy makeovers, they are talking about a breast augmentation and a tummy tuck. Sometimes however, other or additional procedures may be required to achieve an optimal cosmetic outcome. These procedures may include breast lift or liposuction, so the term “mommy makeover” isn’t really specific or descriptive.

So what is all the buzz about? For one thing, many TV shows and web sites sensationalize plastic surgery procedures, and almost everyone has a favorite celebrity who has undergone a procedure. Celebrities are not the only ones having these procedures anymore, and chances are, you have friends, neighbors, or relatives who have had a nip or tuck.

The breast augmentation (scroll down the " video" tab of my web site to view videos of each procedure) part of the makeover has seen the most dramatic changes in recent years. Starting in 1992, the FDA placed a moratorium on silicone gel breast implants, in order that their “safety & efficacy” be studied and assured. In 2006, after much study, the FDA finally lifted the moratorium, returning an excellent option to women who wanted to improve their appearance and enhance their self-esteem.

During the moratorium, silicone gel implants were still being placed in women by clinical investigators (myself included); it was just that very few were placed compared to the pre-moratorium days.

The silicone gel implants introduced in 2006 were actually nothing like the original, pre-moratorium gel implants. The new implants are still made of silicone, however they are made to have a “Gummy Bear” consistency, and actually the name has really stuck with the implant. Implant companies (like Mentor) call them “cohesive gel”. The real significance to this new style of gel implant is that they tend to produce an augmented breast that not only looks great, but also feels and moves like a natural breast. If implant should fail, the cohesive gel is a semi-solid that stays put.

Saline filled breast implants have never been under moratorium. Although the saline implants have not undergone as much change as their silicone gel counterparts, they can still produce a wonderful result for the woman who desires a breast augmentation. Although the popularity of silicone implants is growing at a rapid pace, saline implants are still the most commonly used implant.

Because of the many choices in size, shape, and type, breast implants, are powerful tools that can change much more than just breast size. Implants can be used to restore fullness lost with child rearing and breast-feeding. Implants can also be used to improve symmetry of the breasts, and change their shape. Implants will naturally give a moderate degree of uplift to the breast that may eliminate the need for a complicated breast lift procedure. Not only that, but when the bust line is elevated, the distance between the hip and breast horizontal line is increased, making the abdomen and torso look longer, leaner, and more graceful! Women who are not mothers can also enjoy these benefits.

The tummy tuck portion of the mommy makeover has also changed over the years as plastic surgeons have come to better understand the changes that occur to the abdomen and figure of women as they move through their lives.

Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is a complex and large operation that is best understood by considering the various structures that change over time. I liken the anatomy to an onion that is cut in half.

When one thinks of the cut onion, one immediately sees many concentric rings. Humans are also comprised of concentric rings. Generally, the rings include skin, a fat pad of variable thickness, internal strength layers (what I call internal girdles), muscles, and internal organs.

Over time the structures lose strength and tissues sag. Stretch marks appear, and fat pads thicken. The objectives of tummy tuck are to tighten lax structures and remove excess skin, fat, stretch marks and scars. The overall effect of tummy tuck is to sculpt and shape the torso, often with dramatic results.

So why combine the procedures? There are many great reasons. For one thing, the mommy makeover combines two procedures for a single trip to the operating room. Additionally, this means only one anesthesia exposure and one recovery, and less time away from work & play. This usually means that the mommy makeover can be done more economically. However, generally speaking, there is increased risk with multiple procedures.

Of course everyone wants to look great after cosmetic surgery, but it must be kept in mind at all times that your appearance, as important as it is, is always second to your safety. A mommy makeover is physiologically demanding procedure so you must be in great health, and this may require a medical clearance. It is also important to understand that you WILL need help at home, so this will place demands on your significant others. There are many things to consider prior to having a mommy makeover to ensure that you have a safe and wonderful outcome. To help you achieve your goals, be sure that you choose a plastic surgeon that is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. It is also important to look for membership in prestigious associations like The American Association for Aesthetic Surgery, and, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.