“Mommy Makeover” is a popular term for plastic surgery designed to address common physical issues faced by women after pregnancy and breastfeeding. These are life-changing experiences that can dramatically change a woman’s body, especially in the breasts, abdomen, and hips.
Some women may not be happy with how their bodies have changed, and find it frustrating that despite working hard to regain their pre-pregnancy form; there is a limit to what diet and exercise can achieve. In these situations, a mommy makeover can help.
A mommy makeover targets more than one area of the body and so has the ability to help women transform their entire physical form and restore their confidence and self-esteem.
Mommy makeover surgery must be customized for each woman so your choice of surgeon is a critical first step. It is important to choose a surgeon who will listen to your vision for your body and who has specialized training and experience in aesthetic plastic surgery.
Dr. Ginger Xu uses her technical training and understanding of aesthetics to make sure each woman’s appearance aligns with her unique identity. She embraces the responsibility of transforming a woman’s appearance to reflect her inner values and sense of self by creating natural-looking results that give emotional relief and comfort.
Dr. Xu is a board-certified plastic surgeon with specialty training in aesthetic plastic surgery from Harvard. She is now based in the San Francisco Bay area.
A mommy makeover is not just a tummy tuck. In fact, a mommy makeover encompasses a number of procedures (including the tummy tuck) that must be tailored to each individual.
Every woman’s body is different. Once pregnancy and breastfeeding are completed, each woman will have a different set of concerns and a vision for what she may want. “Mommy makeover” is a catch-all phrase for a combination of body contouring procedures that aim to address each of these concerns. It may include a few, or all of the following procedures:
- Tummy tuck, scar revision – to address abdominal skin and C-section scars
- Breast surgery – breast augmentation, breast lift or reduction or cosmetic nipple surgery
- Additional techniques – eg. post-weight loss body contouring, buttock augmentation, and pan facial rejuvenation
Women may want a mommy makeover for a variety of reasons such as:
- Sagging abdomen and excess skin from weight gain and loss
- Stretching of internal support structures in the abdomen
- Weakening and separation of abdominal muscles
- Breast droop (ptosis)
- Excess or sagging breast skin – can cause rubbing and irritation under the breast folds
- Deflation of breasts – loss of breast volume or fullness and firmness
- Stretching of areolas and nipples
- Extra weight or heaviness around the abdomen and hips
Women are good candidates for a mommy makeover if they:
- Know why they want surgery to change the appearance of their body
- Have an idea of what they would like to achieve with their surgery
- Understand what the surgery involves
- Are non-smokers, or have not smoked for six weeks or more – smoking affects wound healing negatively
There are many possible combinations of surgical approaches for a mommy makeover. Each technique has the potential to give different contours to the breast, abdomen, and hips and also involve different levels of scarring and recovery. Your surgeon can tell you about the best approach to meet your needs.
During a consultation, Dr. Xu can recommend the best plan for you after she examines your body and has a good understanding of your vision and goals.
An overview of the benefits and limitations of different surgical procedures used in mommy makeovers are described below and in more detail on other pages of our website.
Pregnancy can leave some women with a protruding or sagging abdomen that cannot be improved with exercise and/or weight loss. This is usually the area of greatest concern for women seeking a mommy makeover. A tummy tuck (also known as abdominoplasty) is a surgical procedure that reshapes the abdomen to create a smooth and flat contour.
Tummy tucks remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen and also tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. Tummy tucks can also remove C-section scars and some (but not all) stretch marks.
It is best to have a tummy tuck once you have completed your pregnancies and maintained a healthy weight for at least one year. This is because another pregnancy or significant weight changes after surgery can affect the results.
A range of tummy tuck techniques are available and your surgeon will recommend the most suitable type for your body. The techniques include:
- Mini tummy tuck – best for mild skin excess focused below the belly button
- Tummy tuck – a standard, most common approach
- Extended tummy tuck – best after significant weight loss
- Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck – best after massive weight loss
- Reverse tummy tuck – best for excess skin only in the upper abdomen
The breasts are the next most commonly addressed area in a mommy makeover. Breast tissue can undergo dramatic changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The breasts will grow in size, and the expanding breast stretches the skin. Once pregnancy and breastfeeding are completed and breast size decreases, the skin can remain stretched, resulting in a range of changes including:
- A deflated appearance and loss of the original breast fullness, especially in the upper breast
- Changed breast shape – sagging (ptosis)
- Changed position and size of the areola and nipples – the areola and nipples can become enlarged and stretched, and the nipples can point downwards
Depending on the shape and size of a woman’s breast, the surgeon might recommend procedures such as:
- Breast augmentation – to increase the size, fullness, and projection of the breasts and especially helpful for restoring fullness to a flattened upper breast area
- Breast lift – to raise the nipple and areola, reshape the breast tissue and tighten skin for a more youthful contour
- Breast reduction – to decrease the size of the breasts, remove excess skin, fat and breast tissue, reshape the breast and raise the position of the nipple and areola
- Cosmetic nipple surgery – to improve the appearance of the nipple and areola, usually by reshaping or reducing the size
Liposuction can help remove stubborn fat that develops from pregnancy-related weight gain. Many areas of the body can be reshaped including the:
- Bra rolls and upper armpit fullness
- Legs and inner knee
- Pubic area
Liposuction is a very flexible and versatile tool that is often used in combination with other techniques to fine-tune the appearance of a body area.
Some women may wish to address additional areas of their body that may have changed due to pregnancy-related weight fluctuations or as a natural part of aging. This is where body contouring can offer a range of options.
Body contouring can involve the removal of skin and/or liposuction to reshape almost any area of the body. An advantage of liposuction is that excess fat removed from one area can be transferred to another area of the body to improve the shape or fullness of that area – this is called fat grafting or fat transfer. This can be performed in the breasts or buttocks in order to enhance the shape or projection. Additional body contouring procedures include:
- Arm lift – tightens skin and reshapes the upper arm
- Thigh lift – tightens skin and reshapes the upper thigh
- Butt augmentation – the Brazilian Butt Lift is a fat transfer technique to produce fuller and rounder buttocks
Plastic surgery for facial rejuvenation can involve numerous procedures for the face and neck, customized for the individual needs of each woman.
An advantage of having facial surgery at the same time as a tummy tuck or liposuction to the body is that fat harvested from the body can be transferred to the face to restore the volume of any areas deflated because of aging or weight loss. Facial filler can also be used to restore volume.
For Dr. Xu, the mommy makeover is one of the most gratifying procedures she offers. Although some women are not bothered by the changes to their bodies after pregnancy, for others the changes can be dramatic and disconcerting. Some women may even feel they no longer identify with their bodies after seeing these changes.
Every pregnancy affects women both physically and emotionally, and undesired changes to the body can sometimes make women feel they have lost control. The mommy makeover enables women to reclaim and transform their physical form to give confidence and restore a sense of feminine joy.
Each woman is unique and has different:
- Post-pregnancy body changes
- Visions or goals for her body
- Limitations for surgery based on her pre-existing body type
Dr. Xu understands there is no one-size-fits-all approach for an ideal body. She will work with you to design a customized surgical plan that will address your concerns and aim to fulfill an aesthetic vision for your body that is in harmony with the rest of your frame. Dr. Xu’s aesthetic sense focuses on natural and visually pleasing results.
Most importantly, Dr. Xu always considers the safest approach to surgery. This will include a balance of several factors, such as an individual’s:
- Body type
- Medical history
- Willingness to tolerate certain scar patterns
- Ability to maintain any breast implants inserted
- Activity restrictions
Dr. Xu takes the opportunity to help you achieve your vision very seriously. She feels that the mommy makeover is one of the most empowering procedures she offers women.
Some women may feel embarrassed to seek cosmetic plastic surgery out of guilt that they should accept their bodies, and that changes after pregnancy are natural. Others may feel shame that what they seek is out of vanity. Dr. Xu encourages women to listen to their own inner voice and ultimately seek what is right for them. The decision to have aesthetic plastic surgery can be a healthy expression of self-fulfillment and agency.
Yes. A C-section scar will usually be completely removed during a tummy tuck and any deeper tethering of the tissue will be smoothed out.
The convenience and time saved by having a number of procedures at the same time must be balanced with any increased risks caused by prolonged surgery times. Dr. Xu will advise you on how long your surgery will take and if there is an increased risk of complications. She will help you choose the particular combination of techniques to make the most visual impact on your body. Dr. Xu can also advise you on how to stage your procedures in separate surgical sessions if you prefer that approach.
Dr. Xu recommends women wait until they have reached their goal weight and have maintained that weight for at least one year before considering surgery. Weight gain and loss after a mommy makeover may negatively affect the results and final appearance of your body.
Absolutely. “Mommy makeover” is simply a term to describe a combination of aesthetic plastic surgery procedures designed to address changes to the body commonly seen in mothers. However, these changes can also be due to age or weight changes, and the same approach to customizing and combining procedures can be used to meet the needs and goals of any person.
The best time to have a mommy makeover is once you have:
- Finished having children and have no plans for future pregnancies
- Waited at least one year after your last birth
- Finished breastfeeding for at least six months before any breast surgery
- Reached and maintained your goal weight for at least one year
Weight fluctuations and future pregnancies will change your results and may negatively affect the appearance of your body.
Another consideration is the recovery process. The best time to have surgery is during a less-busy period because you will not be able to do anything physically demanding for four-to-six weeks after surgery.
You and your surgeon must communicate and work together so you have a good understanding of the process that will give you the best results. The goal of a good surgeon should be to arm you with the knowledge to understand the factors affecting your mommy makeover.
Dr. Xu can discuss how your age, body type, breast size and shape, and skin condition affect the choice of surgical technique and the results you can achieve. It is important you have a realistic understanding of:
- How your abdomen and breasts will look after surgery
- The limitations of the surgery
- Any short- and long-term effects such as scarring
- Any possible complications
- The potential need for more surgery
Women have different levels of scarring they can tolerate. Dr. Xu can explain which techniques she would recommend for your situation and the level of scarring you can expect.
While some techniques cause more scarring, they might also give you a shape and form closer to your goals. Dr. Xu can give you the information you need to weigh the benefit of more aesthetically-pleasing body shape with the level of scarring.
Dr. Xu encourages open and honest communication about your body, your lifestyle and what you want for the future. Photos of your desired look can help her understand your needs. Your medical history is also important, including any information about pregnancies, breastfeeding, weight loss, breast cancer or other medical conditions.
Things to also discuss with Dr. Xu include:
- Why you want the surgery
- Your future lifestyle goals
- What appearance you hope to achieve
- What sort of body shape or form you would like
Dr. Xu understands the responsibility of transforming a woman’s appearance to better reflect her identity and build self-esteem. Her top priority is understanding your vision and desires.
Once Dr. Xu has examined your body and breasts, she will use her artistic sense and technical expertise to recommend an approach to your surgery that will best suit your goals. During a consultation, Dr. Xu will explain:
- The different types of mommy makeover techniques – breast surgery, tummy tuck, liposuction
- How other surgeries (eg. body contouring, facial rejuvenation) can fulfill your vision for your body
- Which surgical options would best meet your needs
- What types of incisions will be needed
- How much scarring you can expect
- Any need for further operations
- Potential complications or side effects
Once you and Dr. Xu have agreed on an approach to your surgery, Dr. Xu will book your surgery time and give you instructions on what to do before and after your surgery.
Dr. Xu will also let you know which medications you should and should not take prior to your surgery and what to do on the day of your surgery. It is important to stop smoking at least six weeks prior to surgery.
Depending on your medical history, you may need to get a blood test or undergo additional tests. Dr. Xu may also correspond with your primary care doctor to ensure you are in an optimal state of health prior to surgery.
In the weeks before surgery, recommendations to help you prepare include:
- Making sure you get enough sleep and rest
- Eating a healthy diet with adequate protein and nutrition
- Exercising or engaging in physical activity to strengthen your body
- Maintaining a positive state of mind
- Prioritizing your well-being and reducing stress levels
It is essential that you feel comfortable about your upcoming procedure and fully understand the process. Dr. Xu encourages you to ask any questions about your surgery or the recovery process.
Recovery will depend on a number of factors such as:
- The combination and number of techniques used for your mommy makeover
- Your age
- Your health before the surgery
The hardest part of the recovery will be from the tummy tuck. The following will help you understand the recovery process for each procedure that you may wish to include as part of a mommy makeover:
- Tummy tuck recovery
- Breast augmentation recovery
- Breast lift recovery
- Breast reduction recovery
- Thigh lift recovery
- Arm lift recovery
- Butt augmentation recovery
Depending on the combination of surgeries, Dr. Xu can advise you of any additional recovery needs.
During the early stages of recovery, follow these tips to improve your results:
- Wear your compression vest or bra as instructed – to decrease swelling and the risk of fluid collections
- Take pain-relieving medication as instructed
- Use ice packs – to decrease swelling, bruising and pain
- Do not shower or get your incisions wet – use baby wipes until the dressings are removed and you get the go-ahead from your doctor to enter the water
- Only carry or lift very light weights and do not lift your arms over your head – especially in the early weeks after surgery
- Avoid strenuous exercise – ask your doctor when you can return to full activity
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol – both affect wound healing
- Do not expose scars to the sun for at least six months – the sun can cause scars to become permanently darker and more noticeable
- Use scar treatments – ask Dr. Xu about skincare and scar treatments to use once your dressings have been removed
Your risk for complications will depend on the combinations of techniques used. Once you have chosen a surgical plan, Dr. Xu will make you aware of possible complications before you have surgery. The risk of some common complications can be decreased by following your surgeon’s post-surgery instructions.
Potential complications after a mommy makeover include:
- Bleeding or hematoma (a collection of blood)
- Seroma (fluid collection) requiring drainage procedures later
- Wound separation or breakdown
- Temporary or permanent loss of nipple sensation
- Reduced or changed nipple sensation
- Unfavorable scarring
- Potential need for additional revision surgery to obtain your desired result
- Chronic pain
- Suture irritation or extrusion
- Fat necrosis
- Minor asymmetry
A mommy makeover is customized to meet the needs of each woman and the cost will depend on the combination and number of techniques used.
Combination surgeries are more complex than a single-procedure surgery. The best way to understand the costs of surgery is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Xu, a board-certified plastic surgeon with a high level of technical training necessary to help people achieve their aesthetic goals.
Many people are unaware of the full scope and possibilities of plastic surgery. Dr. Xu will listen to your vision for your body, review the options that are available to you, and advise you on an optimal surgical plan that will best meet your needs.