When the stork delivers your bundle of joy, he often includes a few unwanted bonus gifts: saggy skin, extra padding and a generally unpleasant southward slant. But never fear: You can outwit that tricky bird with a little nip and tuck from your friendly plastic surgeon. With cosmetic procedures more affordable and less risky than ever before, many a mom has regained her former figure (and then some!), opening a new life chapter full of self-confidence. Below, discover the most popular mommy fix-its and decide which are worth it to you.
What it costs: $4,207*
How it’s done: A breast lift, or mastopexy, is a low risk surgery used to fight the downward effects of gravity, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Excess breast tissue is removed to restore firmness, and the nipple and areola are repositioned for a perky contour. The areola may also be sized down for a more pleasing aesthetic.
Time to heal: You may return to work within days, but put off straining and lifting for at least a few weeks. (If you have little ones at home, this will take some planning.)
Who’s a candidate? If you have the breast volume you desire, but you’ve lost your prebaby buoyancy, a breast lift will put the girls back where they ought to be. This surgery can be safely performed between babies, but if you’re considering a future pregnancy post-op, keep in mind that you may need another lift down the road.
What it costs: $3,351
How it’s done: Breast implants are filled with either silicone or saline; they can be round or shaped, textured or smooth. Barry Weintraub, MD, FACS, renowned plastic surgeon and spokesperson for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, recommends smooth round implants made from silicone gel for the most natural look and feel. Weintraub makes his incision through the armpit, rather than under the breast or around the nipple, positioning the implant behind the pectoral muscle so as not to disturb ducts or nerves. This careful placement preserves sensation and allows for the possibility of future breastfeeding.
Time to heal: As with a breast lift, you’ll want to lay off the lifting and exercise (including sex) for a few weeks. You’ll have a support bra and pain meds, but expect to have at least a week of serious soreness.
Who’s a candidate? Anyone wishing to increase her breast size in order to regain prebaby boobs, correct an asymmetry, or create a better body balance can consider this procedure. Breast augmentation can take place before, in between or after babies; it’s often teamed with a breast lift when age or pregnancy has taken its toll.
What it costs: $5,130
How it’s done: A wide incision is made between the hips, close to the pubic area. The excess skin is pulled down and trimmed, the abdominal muscles are pulled back in toward the center, and the belly button is repositioned. The result is a tighter, smoother tummy.
Time to heal: You will need support as you recover from a tummy tuck. Arrange to have a nurse or family member help out, especially in the first week or two when you’ll be spending lots of time in bed with a binder around your belly. Expect moderate discomfort and swelling that may, in some cases, last up to a few months.
Who’s a candidate? The mama who has lost most of her baby weight, given diet and exercise her best shot, and still has sagging skin or lingering fat deposits around her middle will benefit from this operation. If you’re planning to have more children, you may want to postpone the tummy tuck until your birthing days are done.
What it costs: $2,884
How it’s done: Liposuction is body contouring achieved by passing a thin metal tube called a cannula through fatty tissue to remove deposits. Common after-baby liposuction sites include the belly, flanks, inner and outer thighs, backside and around the knees.
Time to heal: Patients are customarily sent home in a compression garment and asked to refrain from intense physical
exertion for the first week or so.
Who’s a candidate? When the skin elasticity is sufficient but stubborn fat cells persist, liposuction is a great option. If sagging skin accompanies the fatty buildup, liposuction may be recommended in conjunction with a lift or tuck.
What it costs: $9,000+ depending on components
How it’s done: A mommy makeover typically includes breast surgery—lift plus augmentation or reduction—tummy tuck and liposuction, all performed in one fell swoop. The patient decides which particular areas to focus on, making each mommy makeover a custom package.
Time to heal: Recovery time will vary from patient to patient. A breast lift and liposuction will require relatively little
downtime while a tummy tuck will generally take longer to heal.
Who’s a candidate? When you’re done having kids and ready for a full-body overhaul, look into the mommy makeover. It has the single highest “Worth It” rating on the cosmetic surgery review site RealSelf.com, with 97 percent of recipients reporting positive results.
Choosing a body sculptor
Tom Seery, CEO and founder of RealSelf.com, hears accounts of surgical experiences every day. His best advice? “I cannot stress enough how critical it is to find the right qualified doctor. Don’t get a tummy tuck from a gynecologist or a breast augmentation from an oral surgeon! You have to go beyond friends’ recommendations and good first impressions, and really evaluate which board-certified plastic surgeon is the best for your care.”
Weintraub recommends looking for a doctor with the following: board certification (look for a stamp of approval from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)), proper hospital appointments, a good reputation with doctors (especially OB/GYNs) in the community, and a record of patient satisfaction. When you think you’ve found “the one,” meet him for a consultation. Says Weintraub, “The plastic surgeon who is attuned to your needs will do three things: listen, listen and listen … A good plastic surgeon will be on the same wavelength as the patient.” Presurgery jitters are one thing, but if you don’t have complete confidence in your surgeon, find another.