Pregnancy and motherhood are wonderful and exciting times in a woman’s life. Many women, however, will experience unwanted permanent physical changes that are not always desirable. All too often, women find it emotionally and physically difficult to adjust to these new changes in their bodies affecting their self-esteem and personal self-image. These changes vary greatly and range from stretch marks and varicose veins to the more significant changes such as, smaller and sagging breasts, enlarged waist with redundant skin and larger hips.
Fortunately, there are many treatments available to correct or improve these common post-pregnancy changes. Many of these procedures are non-surgical or relatively simple outpatient surgeries. Some treatments are possible because of new technology such as lasers and liposuction developed in just the last few years. These surgeries are commonly known as the “mommy makeover”. Follow the links to more detailed information on each procedure.
Breast Augmentation: Breast changes vary widely from patient to patient. There are many health and nurturing benefits of breast feeding, but these changes occur regardless of whether or not a woman chooses to breast feed. Changes in a woman’s breasts following pregnancy should not influence her decision to breast feed. After childbirth, when the mother is no longer lactating, the breast glands will shrink. Most often this leaves the breasts smaller especially in the upper portion and possibly with excess loose skin which causes the breasts to sag. In this case, breast augmentation may allow the patient to achieve her desired breast shape and size.
Breast Lift: If there is too much loose skin and sagging, following pregnancy, then a breast lift is required. This procedure essentially removes excess skin to tighten and lift the remaining skin and breast tissues. The incisions vary depending upon the amount of skin to be removed. Some women benefit from a combination of these two procedures called an “augmentation-mastopexy.” In a few women, breasts actually enlarge, especially if there is a post pregnancy weight gain, and a reduction and Mastopexy combination may be most appropriate.
Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty is an operation which can tighten the abdominal muscles, remove localized excess skin and fat. Following pregnancy a woman can experience any of these conditions alone or in combination. For example, your weight and body fat may be low, yet stretched, weak abdominal muscles may result in laxity and forward protrusion of the lower or entire abdomen. In just about all women, following pregnancy the two midline rectus muscles separate, “diastasis recti”. This weakness tends to enlarge the waist in many women. After pregnancy if your belly button has a bulge or sticks out, it may be due to an umbilical hernia. Both of these conditions are corrected during a Tummy Tuck, which will bring in your waist line. On the other hand if only a small amount of skin is redundant in the lower tummy you may only need a fairly simple “mini-tuck” rather than the more extensive standard Abdominoplasty – which corrects all the conditions noted above.
Umbilicoplasty or improving the belly button is an additional benefit of the tummy tuck as is removal of stretch marks of the lower abdomen. This can actually be done as a separate minor procedure if the belly button has been stretched or distorted by the pregnancy. An umbilical hernia can also be repaired at the same time.
Stretch marks, striae, which occur during pregnancy, can be improved in a variety of ways through various techniques. A tummy tuck may surgically remove many of the skin changes. Topical treatments which have shown some benefits include laser therapy and some medications such as Retin-A. Some specialized Lasers such as the Diolite laser which we have at Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery may diminish redness for some patients and possibly improve the texture of the skin and the diameter, width, of the stretch marks. This laser is also great for red spots (angiomas) or spider veins (telangiectasias) that often follow pregnancy.
Liposuction is the most commonly requested cosmetic surgery procedure in the United States of America. New mothers sometimes experience redistribution of their body fat. Localized fat collections in the tummy, hips, thighs, and upper arms (to name a few of the more common areas) are treated easily and with excellent results, with either standard or the ultrasonic liposuction or power assisted liposuction. When combined with a sensible diet and exercise program you can successfully work toward regaining your pre-pregnancy body contours and clothing size.
Labioplasty and vaginal tightening or myoplasty are outpatient operations to repair tears or damage to the labia (opening to the vagina) and vagina which may occur during a normal vaginal delivery.
Skin pigment changes (chloasma) can occur during pregnancy. Irregular red or brown discoloration across the face is very common side effect of pregnancy- “mask of pregnancy”. This is generally improved with a medical grade bleaching or peeling program by our skin aesthetician. BioSpa is the clinical skin care department at Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery. A full range of treatments including Laser, Chemical Peels, Medical Microdermabrasion and a full line of prescription grade products are available. Contact us to make a complementary appointment with one of our staff at BioSpa to individualize a treatment that is right for your skin type.
Varicose veins and spider-veins frequently appear with the hormonal and body fluid changes during pregnancy. While varicose veins generally occur on the legs, “spiders” may arise on any part of the body. Treatment may be as simple as the newest lasers recently developed for these specific problems Sclerotherapy or injections of varicosities are often successful. Lastly, outpatient surgery to remove portions of the larger varicose veins can be performed through tiny “nicks” in the skin with minimal visible scars. We also use the Diolite Vascular Laser for fine superficial veins above the knees and red spots any where on the body.
Combined operations are often performed with our Gynecology colleagues. Tubal ligation is a common post pregnancy procedure which is done at the time of many of the surgeries noted above. If you require a gynecologic operation or study (laparoscopy) and are considering a plastic surgery procedure, discuss these issues with your doctor. Combining these procedures decreases anesthetics, costs, and recovery time.