tummy tuck
Cosmetic Surgery

Emerging from the Pandemic: What Can a “Mommy Makeover” Do for Me?

Re-emerging from months of isolation isn’t as easy as many thought it would be. Despite the disorientation and sense of loss associated with the new normal of their pandemic-induced lives, many people have found themselves surprisingly anxious about jumping back into life as they used to know it. Even as COVID-19 cases decline and millions have been fully vaccinated, psychologists say that “re-entry stress” is affecting many of us to a greater or lesser extent. Some of this anxiety can be attributed to lingering concerns about the virus: Can I be infected even if I’m vaccinated? What about the kids? What about the variants? Some of it is also a factor of how we feel about the public selves that have been hidden for more than a year: What should I wear? Will my clothes fit? What about my weight gain? How do I regain my confidence and positive self-image? 

The best advice is not to be too hard on yourself. Go slowly. Give yourself time to return gradually to your routine and think about taking the opportunity to restructure your life and your schedule. Get help for those things you can’t do for yourself. If healthy eating and a diligent exercise regimen haven’t yielded the results you want, consider a consultation to determine if plastic surgery might provide just the boost and impetus you need to get back on track.

One solution might be found in the constellation of procedures that are known as a “mommy makeover.” Originally developed as a means to help women restore their pre-pregnancy bodies, a “mommy makeover” is a personalized combination of surgical procedures that will improve a woman’s physical and emotional health by addressing areas that are resistant to improvement from diet and exercise. A typical “mommy makeover” addresses the abdomen and/or breasts and may incorporate liposuction to perfect the final contours.

Abdomen: Many women find that diet and exercise alone cannot correct abdominal skin that is stretched out and sagging and stretch marks caused by pregnancy or previous weight gain and loss. Some women also suffer weakening of the abdominal muscles that results in a persistent bulge that resists efforts to reduce it. An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck removes excess skin and stretch marks and can also repair damaged muscles. The result is a flatter, firmer stomach and improved waistline. 

Breasts are also prone to loss of elasticity as childbearing, nursing, and aging take their toll and the breast tissue drops to the bottom of the breast, leaving the top flat and the breast sagging. Several procedures can correct problems with the breast:

A mastopexy or breast lift will not change the size of the breasts but will remove excess skin and reposition the nipple and areola higher on the breast mound or move the breast tissue itself higher on the chest wall, creating a more youthful-appearing breast. 

With or without a breast lift, some women may want to undergo a breast augmentation that places a saline or silicone gel implant under the breast tissue to increase the size of the breast.

A mammoplasty or breast reduction addresses the effects of large breasts, including back and arm pain, headaches, and a rash under the breasts. The procedure removes excess tissue and skin and positions the breast tissue higher on the chest wall. 

Liposuction can be used along with abdominal and breast procedures to perfect the final contours by removing additional fat to achieve the desired results. 

Surgery can help correct body defects caused by life changes and stress but that no one should rush into surgery without careful consideration. In particular, surgery is not a shortcut to weight loss and should not be undergone until a stable, healthy weight is achieved and the possibility of correction with exercise has been exhausted. With appropriate goals and expectations, a “mommy makeover” can help restore your pre-pandemic body along with your confidence and self-esteem. 

Constance M. Chen, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon with special expertise in the use of innovative natural techniques to optimize medical and cosmetic outcomes for women undergoing breast reconstruction. She is Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery (Plastic Surgery) at Weill Cornell Medical College and Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery (Plastic Surgery) at Tulane University School of Medicine. www.constancechenmd.com 

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