A newborn baby. There's just nothing like it. Looking into the baby's eyes for the first time, the smell of baby's breath, the sounds, the special moments alone with the baby...nothing, absolutely nothing compares.
Then the changes set in. The milk comes in and for some women it's, surprise! Breasts! For others it's just more of too much; too big, too heavy. And then it's gone. The volume goes away and the breasts change again. Stretch marks. Maybe a bottom-heavy appearance. Maybe the nipples point down. And mommy isn't happy with the look any more.
And the abdomen! The baby is wonderful but what on earth happened to the abdomen?! Stretch marks, loose skin, shape changes, and maybe even skin draping over a C-section scar. Didn't remember signing up for that!
What is a Mommy Makeover?
A mommy makeover may include any combination of procedures, but in most cases it refers to surgical procedures that enhance the appearance of the breasts and the abdomen, performed at the same time.
Many women really liked the volume and shape their breasts had when they were breast feeding. They liked how the filled out their clothing and they want to get back to that look. These women have nicely shaped but smallish breasts. For this group, breast augmentation may just be perfect. Placing an implant to increase breast volume and shape takes about an hour; the increase in self-confidence lasts a lifetime. Some women develop substantial looseness of the skin, resulting in a major change to the look of their breasts. Maybe the breasts develop a bottom-heavy appearance, with much of the fullness of the breasts sagging down below the bra-line level. Maybe the nipples point down. Women with these types of changes may benefit from a breast lift (mastopexy) to tighten the breast tissues and re-position the nipples more centrally on the breasts, possibly combined with placement of breast implants to enhance the shape and volume. A final group of women always had large breasts and found that having children made their breasts way too big and heavy. These women may benefit from breast reduction surgery. Mommy makeover surgery may include breast augmentation, breast lift, or even breast reduction surgery depending on the woman's features and desires. Dr. Kunkel discusses this carefully during the initial mommy makeover consultation.
The abdomen, of course, also changes as a result of pregnancy. Some women have amazingly few long-term changes (sometimes life just isn't fair that way!). Some women remain thin but find that when they lean forward their skin is so loose it also falls way forward. Other women develop a muffin top or maybe a pooch of skin/tissue in the lower central abdomen that hangs over a fold or cesarean section scar. Stretch marks are common. Often the belly button changes, with skin draping over and concealing it. Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery may work wonders for women with these types of findings. Liposuction of the flanks may be performed at the same time for women who have fullness in that area. Women whose loose skin extends all the way around to their back may benefit from a more circumferential approach, possibly a lower body lift that also lifts and tightens the lateral thighs and the buttocks.
Mommy makeover surgery is not one specific operation. It is a combination of procedures, typically involving the breasts and the abdomen, performed to help reclaim the body lost due to the 'ravages' of pregnancy and breast feeding.
Mommy Makeover: How to Decide Which Procedures Will Work Best
Dr. Kunkel and his staff spend a lot of time with the patient during the initial mommy makeover consultation. The visit typically lasts about 2 hours. Vectra XT 3-dimensional imaging is used during the consultation. Six cameras take photographs of the woman's breasts, abdomen, and back. The Vectra software then combines the digital information in the six photographs of each of those areas into three dimensional images. These images may be rotated in almost every conceivable direction, allowing visualization of the body in ways that are almost impossible to do with mirrors. Dr. Kunkel uses 'marking pens' in the software to draw on and highlight specific areas of the images, helping the patient understand the types of changes that may be possible for each of her areas of concern during mommy makeover surgery. The three dimensional imaging is used as an educational tool to help increase knowledge and understanding rather than as a tool to show exact results. The Vectra software includes information about almost every saline and silicone breast implant available in the United States. For women considering breast augmentation, it is possible for the software to show what a woman may look like with a specific pair of breast implants. Want to see a different look? Just a few more mouse clicks. While the simulated result from the software is not exact, it does help provide important information in helping women choose the type of mommy makeover surgery outcome that may work best for them.
Where does Dr. Kunkel Perform Mommy Makeover Surgery?
Mommy makeover surgery is performed in a hospital with the patient under general anesthesia. Facilities that Dr. Kunkel uses include Andrews Women's Hospital at Baylor All Saints, USMD Fort Worth Hospital, Texas Health Harris Southwest Hospital, and Baylor Surgical Hospital.
Recovery after Mommy Makeover Surgery
Most of Dr. Kunkel's mommy makeover patients spend the night in the surgical facility. Why spend the night? Primarily as a safety issue. One of the most important things a person should do after a mommy makeover is get out of bed and move around. Some patients have a great helper at home who will help/make them get out of bed. However, often times the 'helper' puts the patient (who may be a bit nauseated, sore, tired, and 'cranky') to bed and goes out to manage the kids or watch the Rangers or Mavericks game on TV. They'll check in on the patient from time to time but may not be reliable in helping them get up and get moving. Also, by staying in the facility overnight the patient may receive intravenous medication to help relieve any discomfort and nausea they may have as a result of the surgery. This makes them more likely to actually want to get up and get moving. One of the risks of mommy makeover surgery is blood clots in the legs. For patients who stay overnight in the facility, massaging devices (called sequential compression devices) are placed on their legs and left in place until the next morning. This helps minimize the risk of blood clots forming. Some women also appreciate having one night away from young children who otherwise might be overly curious about why mom won't come out a pay attention to them.
Rather than having a lot of pain, Dr. Kunkel's patients more commonly talk about feeling tired and "drained" for about five days after mommy makeover surgery. Their abdominal tissues are usually pulled so tight that they actually walk in a "bent-over" position during those first several days. Beginning about 5 days after surgery their energy returns and they begin to walk more upright. Most patients take two to three weeks off from work after a mommy makeover. Women with young children will need to make arrangements for someone else to be driving their kids to school and other activities for the first week after mommy makeover surgery. Compression garments are worn, often for two months or more. Strenuous activities like running, bicycling, working out, and swimming should be avoided for about six weeks. All of this is discussed during the visit with Dr. Kunkel, and the booklets you receive makes it easy to remember.
Risks of Mommy Makeover Surgery
Every surgical procedure includes some risks. All operations, from hernia repairs to cesarean sections to heart surgery to tummy tucks, include risks of infection, bleeding, blood clots, and poor healing. Surgical procedures also have risks that may be unique to a specific procedure. Issues that are more unique to tummy tuck surgery include the possibility that the belly button could end up slightly higher or lower than it had been before surgery and it may have a different shape, the scar on one side of the abdomen could be longer or higher than the scar on the other side of the abdomen, and it is possible to have long-term numbness in the lower abdomen or even the upper thigh.
Risks that are more unique to breast implant surgery include capsular contracture (firmness developing around the breast implant), a change in nipple sensation, and breakage or leakage of the implant (implant rupture) as a result of injury or the normal compression and movement of the breast. For breast lift and breast reduction surgery, it is possible that one nipple could end up a little higher or lower than the other, and loss of sensation in the nipples or some of the breast skin may occur. Loss of a nipple is possible but is also extraordinarily uncommon.
During the initial and subsequent office visits, Dr. Kunkel and his staff go over all of these issues to help patients thoroughly understand the options and the potential benefits and risks of the options.
If you would like more information about Mommy Makeover or to schedule an appointment, feel free to fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at (817) 335-5200.