“Mommy Makeovers” are becoming an increasingly popular surgical option for women aged 20 to 39, quickly gaining on traditional top surgeries like facelifts. For many women, says Dr. Hugh McLean, the combination plastic surgery treatments that include tummy tucks, breast lifts, and breast augmentation are the only way to regain their pre-baby bodies, and provide a welcome option for looking and feeling as sexy after baby as they did before.
With the average age of childbirth increasing, more and more new mothers simply don’t have the skin elasticity they need to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy bodies, no matter how much they work out or diet. While motherhood is one of the most rewarding experiences of a woman’s life, it does have its challenges – and the effects that pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding have on a woman’s body is one of them. Breasts droop and sag, weight changes occur, and the tummy is stretched. For today’s busy woman who takes care of herself and likes to feel confident in her body, the changes can be frustrating, and undermine confidence and self-esteem.
Dr. McLean is a leading accredited cosmetic plastic surgeon and specialist in tummy tuck and breast augmentation procedures, and says that he has seen an increasing amount of Mommy Makeover clients at his Mississauga practice, the McLean Clinic. “These women are usually active. They’re keen on living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a fit body. But the weight gain and loose skin they experience after pregnancy is disheartening.”
While diet and exercise will reduce the weight, says Dr. McLean, it cannot bring elasticity back to sagging skin. For many women, the prospect of a lifetime spent tucking excess flab into waistbands, or wearing support garments to maintain their silhouettes is just too daunting. When it comes to feeling sexy and wearing fitted clothes and bikinis again, the Mommy Makeover is a welcome option for tightening and lifting after pregnancy.
“A lot of women ask me why the Hollywood stars all have tight tummies after their pregnancies,” says Dr. McLean. “And it’s not only because they have access to personal chefs and trainers. They’re just not showing you their tummy tucks.” These surgeries are increasingly common, especially for women like Hollywood stars who have so much invested in their appearance.
“I always think of the skin as being like the clothes you wear. No matter how much exercise you do, you’ll never tighten your gym shorts. And the skin is like that. It won’t respond to diet and exercise in a lot of women.”
McLean Clinic patient Stephanie is a 40-year-old woman working in a senior management position. Frustrated that her regular exercise schedule and attention to diet did nothing to tighten up the loose skin around her stomach, Stephanie opted for a Mommy Makeover, which in her case included a tummy tuck and breast augmentation. “It didn’t matter how many sit-ups I did, or how much weight I worked with, I still had this flabby skin around my mid-section that didn’t seem to want to go away.”
And she’s not alone. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), more women like Stephanie are opting for surgical assistance in regaining their youthful bodies than ever before. Breast augmentation and tummy tuck procedures have risen by 36% and 84%, respectively, since 2000. And while facelifts topped the list of popular cosmetic surgery procedures for years, tummy tucks outranked them in 2005 as body contouring and healthy-looking physiques become a leading cosmetic concern. In 2006, ASPS reported that Mommy Makeovers made a dramatic 11% increase, more than five times the overall increase of other procedures in the same time period (which grew, on average, by 2%).
The popularity of the procedure is probably due to several factors: there’s usually a cost savings when two or three procedures are performed together, women are tending to have babies well into their 30s and 40s when their skin has less elasticity, and cosmetic surgery is becoming less stigmatized, as more people opt to improve their physical imperfections through surgical procedures.
For the Mommy Makeover client, the procedure can give women back their confidence and make them feel like they have a new lease on life. “I love my new body!” gushes Stephanie. “I feel more confident and all of my clothes fit better. I find myself wearing things that I’ve wanted to wear, but haven’t been as comfortable wearing. It’s exactly what I wanted and more.”
For Dr. McLean, that response is definitely the norm. “People radiate joy when they see what these procedures can do for them,” says the doctor, who has been in practice for 30 years. “It’s extremely fulfilling to see the way it can transform people’s lives.”