Dallas plastic surgeon, Dr. Bradley Hubbard, answers this question and other mommy makeover FAQs.
After practicing plastic surgery in Dallas, Texas for many years, I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of women during their consultation for a “mommy makeover”. Every patient that I meet has their own reasons for being interested in this type of cosmetic surgery. The term “mommy makeover” was coined to describe a few different procedures that are often combined into one surgery. This is typically some combination of procedures to the breast, combined with some procedure to the abdomen. The two places where pregnancy makes permanent changes. In my practice, the most popular procedures are breast lift and/or breast augmentation, breast reduction, a tummy tuck, along with some body contouring (liposuction).
So is a “mommy makeover” worth it? The only person that can answer that is the women who choose to have this procedure done. I can tell you, from my experience, that I have not yet had a patient they tell me they regretted their decision.
Carrying children can leave a woman’s body with excess skin, separation of their abdominal muscles, and sagging breasts. For most of the patients that I talk to, this becomes less of an issue of vanity, and more of an issue of self-esteem and desire to feel ownership of their post-pregnancy body again.
My office always receives tons of questions about the “mommy makeover”, so I thought it would be fun to create this post to answer some of the most common questions we get about this surgical procedure.
Top 10 Mommy Makeover Procedure FAQs
How long does a mommy makeover surgery usually take?
The length of your surgery will depend largely on the type of procedures you choose for your “mommy makeover”. We typically estimate 4-6 hours, with 6 hours being the absolute max. Why? Quite simply, more than 6 hours of anesthesia with any cosmetic surgery has been scientifically proven to have worse outcomes. It increases risk of infection, DVT, PE, wound healing, ect. If your surgeon can’t do your surgery in under 6 hours then it should be split into multiple stages for patient safety. There is a joke among surgeons, “you can be fast and good, you can be fast and bad, but if you are slow…. you are just bad.” There are exceptions to this rule, but it is mostly true.
I’ve heard that when you have a breast lift, the nipples are removed and stitched back on. Is this true?
This is rare in my practice, because removing them and putting them back on as a “skin graft” guarantees loss in sensation and ability to breastfeed. There are a couple scenarios where I would advocate for this method. One example would be really really large breasts with crazy amounts of droop. If you can tuck your breasts under your belt, then it might be the right surgery for you. In the average breast lift, I will reposition the nipples to support symmetry with the new breast shape, but not remove them. This does not affect sensation or breast feeding function.
Would you ever recommend deep sedation for a mommy makeover? Why or why not?
There are some surgeons that have developed a safe way to do this. When it comes to deep sedation vs. general anesthesia, there are two points worth discussing. First, twilight anesthesia is not “safer” than general anesthesia, it is usually more risky. Second, surgeons usually don’t choose this method, it is forced on them. Fake plastic surgeons aren’t allowed to do general anesthesia plastic surgery. Hospitals won’t let them. So they have to do it under sedation. The other factor could be cost. Some parts of the country have extremely high general anesthesia/OR fees. Patients wouldn’t be able to afford anything other than sedation. The take home here is: if you hear sedation, be sure to double check if the doctor is a real plastic surgeon.
Would you ever choose a nurse anesthetist instead of an anesthesiologist? Why or why not?
This is very regional and can also be legal-related. When using a RN anesthetist, the surgeon is assuming greater legal risk as they are in part responsible for the anesthesia. It is very common in some places and rare in others. This is usually due to the malpractice laws of the state. Legal issues aside, most cosmetic surgery is done on perfectly healthy adults and has very low anesthesia risk. Are doctors better than RNs? Of course, but this isn’t open heart surgery. I’m sure my anesthesiologists feel like Bobby Fisher playing checkers against a kindergartener. They are too educated for the simplicity of the work. Deep down, I still prefer the MD, just in case something happens. I want the best of the best when caring for my patients.
Why is getting up and moving around important after mommy makeover surgery important?
Moving around after your surgery is important to prevent blood clots.
Do I need to be at my goal weight prior to my surgery?
I recommend to all my patients that they be at 90% of their goal weight prior to their surgery. Nobody wants to do the surgery twice. I contour the liposuction and tighten the skin based on the shape and size of the patient on the day of surgery. If their weight gain or weight loss changes by more than 10%, I can’t be sure the result will still look great. It is also important to note that a mommy makeover, tummy tuck, or liposuction should never be thought of as a weight loss procedure. During any initial consultation, I always discuss patient goals and whether or not a procedure is right for them.
Do you use drains or no drains with your mommy makeover surgical technique and why?
Tummy tucks can be done without drains. This technique was first published a little over 20 years ago. Drainless tummy tucks may seem like cutting edge stuff, but the method is old as dirt. Consider this, a procedure was first described more than 20 years ago and less than 10% of plastic surgeons do the surgery this way. Why? It has more complications than with drains and plastic surgeons have adopted the safer way. It’s like the terms “mini-tummy tuck” or “mini-facelift”. Drainless tummy tuck is a gimmick. It is a marketing tool, not a better procedure.
How long is the recovery period after a mommy makeover?
Your recovery will depend on your unique body, your diet, and the procedures you have chosen for your surgery. On average, I tell patients to expect to be quite sore for at least 2 weeks, while seeing steady improvement throughout the course of 30 days. A tummy tuck is abdominal surgery, and it leaves the abdominal muscles very tight. Expect to walk hunched over for the first few days, but you will slowly notice yourself able to stand straight in about a week to two weeks. Most patients find their breast lift or breast augmentation to be the easiest part of the surgery when it comes to recovery. You will be sore, but it is tolerable for most. Liposuction creates bruising and can be uncomfortable, but most patients report feeling better within 2 weeks. If you are someone who actively works out, be sure to discuss a realistic and safe timeline to return to exercise with your surgeon.
Do you always recommend breast implants with breast surgery?
Not at all. The decision to go with breast implants or let’s say just a breast lift, depends on the individual and their desired outcome. If you are comfortable with the size of your breasts, but feel that they are sagging, then a breast lift is a good option. If a patient is looking for a breast enhancement (larger breasts) or has a desire to create more breast volume, then implants are a better option.
What does a mommy makeover cost?
Cost is always a factor, but just like shoes, there is no one size fits all approach to pricing plastic surgery. The cost of your surgery will depend on the procedures that you choose. When pricing surgeries, I take into account my time, the cost of general anesthesia, the cost of the surgery center, the cost of my staff, etc. You can check out the convenient pricing tool on our website, or call to schedule a mommy makeover consultation. Most plastic surgeons offer financing plans and my office is no exception.
I hope that you found this post helpful. Mommy makeovers are one my most performed surgeries. I see women from all over Dallas-Fort Worth, Plano, Texas, and even from other states and countries. If my team can be helpful, I do hope you will reach out to us!