As women who have had children, our bodies have endured a multitude of changes that most of us didn’t anticipate. Although we celebrate everything our bodies are capable of, it is a tough adjustment mentally, physically and emotionally to be left with a completely different body post-baby. Compound that with a radically new schedule which leaves us little time to be physically active as well as a lack of sleep that borders on insomnia, it is shocking that most of us make it through relatively unscathed.
Or have we?
I will be the first to admit that I have battled with body image issues for a good chunk of my adult life. Body image issues occur for every size and shape. After having children, my new body was a shock. I work every day to be comfortable with all of the changes that both children and age have brought. What if I didn’t have to worry every day about my “mummy tummy”? Would that free up space in my head to enjoy my family more? To enjoy myself more?
I had the incredible privileges to speak with Dr. Gregory A. Wiener MD FACS, the owner of The Art of Plastic Surgery, a state-of-the-art faciliy offering the most advanced surgical and cosmetic techniques. Included in the long list of awards and accolades is the Best Beauty Surgeon title, given to Dr. Wiener by Harpers Bazaar.
I wanted to get to the bottom of plastic surgery for moms, deemed “Mommy Makeovers,” and see if it was all about a desire for perfection stemming from societal pressures, or if is simply a way for moms to gain a little more confidence and regain a piece of that woman they were pre-baby.
|Me, a few weeks post-baby, trying to adjust to everything, including a new body|
I grilled Dr. Wiener. I asked the tough questions, I brought up stigmas, inner vs. outer beauty, all of it. I have to say, he was one of the most sensitive, informative and caring professionals I have spoken with. Here is the skinny on plastic surgery, and what Mommy Makeovers are all about.
Q: How does having children specifically change a woman’s body? Are there bodies that no matter the amount of diet/exercise, the muscle/tissue is beyond the ability to go back naturally?
A: There are hormonal fluctuations, fluid retention, weight gain, expansion not only in the abdomen but from top to bottom, which is all required for a healthy pregnancy. Even if you gain the minimum amount during pregnancy, your breasts and belly still take a hit. Stretch marks occur in many women, and this is when the dermal layer of the skin, the thicker skin below the epidermis, splits and expands beyond its capacity. Genetics play a part in stretch marks as well. Also, the abdominal muscles split down the middle. The space where those 6-pack muscles are- this separates in the midline and increases the round look. In most cases, that initial shape doesn’t come back. Some women who work out intensely both before and after can maintain, but it is not the case for most.
Breasts are deflated post-partum. The hormone peak is gone, and women can go from a D during pregnancy to a small C or large B quickly post-partum. Breastfeeding means that this “deflation” happens later, but it can take more of a toll on the breasts because the tissue is stretched for longer.
Q: What are your most popular mommy makeover services and how do you determine if a woman is a good candidate for them?
A: Our most popular services in the past were breast augmentation and a tummy tuck. Now, with advanced surgical techniques, we offer breast lifts and lipo to the abdomen. The majority of women have some form of skin reduction. We can do a mini tuck if the excess skin is limited to below the belly button or a full if it extends above. Most women have excess skin above and below the belly button which has stretched. We use liposuction along the waistline as well, to create a 360 contouring. The lower back skin is thick, so we need to clear the fat out. This helps the butt look rounder, shapelier, and boosts everything.
We replace lost volume in a breast augmentation and can combine it with a lift. A chunky waist is difficult to hide under clothing, and lipo or an abdominoplasty can help women have a more contoured look.
Q: How do you deal with the stigma around plastic surgery, and the mental preparation/post-procedure mental process that women go through when adjusting to their new shape?
A: The stigma isn’t as severe as it has been in the past. So many more people, especially celebrities, are up front about their experiences with cosmetic surgery. An excellent resource to discover women’s experiences in cosmetic surgery is RealSelf. (Note: A Mommy Makeover has a 97% “Worth It Rating,” and Dr. Wiener has 4.7/5 stars from 80 reviewers overall). You can find real women’s independent experiences, cost, and before and after photos.
The plastic surgery stigma isn’t the same as it was years ago when I was first performing procedures. Now, women are experiencing more of the “Mommy Guilt”- can I justify the downtime, the money, and doing something for myself instead of for someone else. I fully explain all of the limitations, options, risks, expected results and cost in order to allow them to make the decision. My initial consultations are one hour long in order to address any issues that the patient might have.
Q: After breast augmentation, I have heard many women are able to go without a bra/supportive undergarments. Is this true/recommended?What are the options for getting breasts back to their original position, and how do you determine which is right for each patient?
A: If women have small breasts with not a lot of weight, yes, they can go without undergarments. With more weight, no. We have much better technology now with breast reshaping and lifts. We can actually move the tissue up on the wall and reduce breast tissue. Each patient is different, and I take the time to discuss all options and outcomes in depth.
Honestly, I felt much better about my body after speaking to Dr. Wiener, a feeling I didn’t think I would have. He is frank and honest about how pregnancy changes a woman’s body, and her choice to alter it as she sees fit. Life is about choices- and I am thankful to Dr. Weiner for giving women the freedom and the choice to do what makes them happy and secure.