But, there is a lot that happens before you even arrive for your surgey.
Part 1 – Making the Decision
Should you get a Mommy Makeover? Making that decision starts with honestly assessing your situation. Why are you considering this surgery? What do you want to accomplish, aesthetically or emotionally? For many women, it could be that:
- You want to look in the mirror and see shapely feminine curves and firm skin again, instead of loose skin, sagging breasts and poochy pockets of fat
- You want to look better and feel more comfortable in your clothes
- You want to look better and feel more confident without your clothes
- You want to feel as proud of your body as you are of your family
Or you may have other reasons for considering a Mommy Makeover. Every woman is different, so your desires and preferences are all your own, and only you know what they really are. Will a Mommy Makeover achieve your goal(s)?
Do you just want to lose weight? Mommy Makeover is not a weight loss alternative. It is about turning back the clock with body contouring after you have already done the work to trim down as much as possible with exercise and proper nutrition.
Are you hoping for a perfect body? No surgery can do that for you because a perfect body does not exist. Cosmetic procedures serve to enhance your natural body, based on your unique size and structure. That said, a Mommy Makeover can help you look much like you did prior to having children – or even more enhanced, if that’s your desire. If your expectations are realistic when you make the decision to have this procedure, you are most likely to feel pleased with your results.
This is why it’s so important to review before and after photos of other patients, especially women whose body type is similar to yours. These photos will help you get a realistic idea about your own possible outcome, but they can also help you decide whether or not Mommy Makeover is right for you and, if so, which procedures you want to include.
There are other important factors to consider:
Fat location. There are two types of abdominal fat. Internal, or visceral fat lies underneath your muscles so we cannot do anything to reduce that fat during surgery. We can remove stubborn fat that lies between the muscles and the skin, but if you also have internal fat that will affect your overall appearance.
Availability of aftercare. Mommy Makeover is serious surgery – multiple surgeries, actually – so you will require assistance for a while following your procedure. Emotional support is also important during recovery. Do you have an adult family member or friend who can help you? Are those closest to you supportive of your decision to undergo surgery and understanding of the recovery process?
Your motivation. It is imperative that you choose cosmetic surgery to please yourself, not because someone else wants you to “look better” or because you think you should meet some cultural standard. It is your body, and it should be your decision.
Part 2 – Setting the Date
It takes time to recover from significant surgery, and feeling rushed will work against your body’s need to heal properly and thoroughly. That means you’ll want to consider future plans when scheduling your Mommy Makeover.
Time off. If you work outside your home or out of a home office, you will need to set aside enough time away from those responsibilities as well as regular household duties so that you can recover without distractions. If you have kids living at home, how will your time off affect their care? This is all the more reason to enlist help in the first few weeks following your surgery. Dr. Harris will discuss with you what limitations you should expect and when you might expect to return to work and at-home routines.
Upcoming vacations or special events. Naturally, you will be excited to show off your new body, but you want to be sure you are well-healed to safely take advantage of vacation activities. Wait at least 4-6 weeks for any water-related activities (ocean, lake, pool or spas) to keep your wounds dry for that period. If you’re planning a ski trip, wait at least 6 weeks. Snow sports are physically demanding, and a fall could risk your recovery and results.
Your caregiver’s schedule. Make sure the person who has agreed to be your right hand during recovery will be available when you need them. We recommend that someone stay with you around the clock for at least the first 48-72 hours. This is a crucial period for healing, and the more comfortable and relaxed you are, the more your body can focus on doing its job.
Time in compression garments. No one loves compression garments, and some surgeons may tell you they are optional. At Image Surgical Arts, we believe in doing everything possible to ensure you enjoy the best results from your surgery. Compression garments help reduce swelling and provide valuable support following liposuction, tummy tuck and, in some cases, breast procedures.
Dr. Harris may have you wear them for as long as 3-4 months. As he monitors post-surgical progress, he often allows patients to gradually reduce time in the garments. This is another detail you will discuss with him during your personal consultation.
Part 3 – The Procedure
Details of a Mommy Makeover can vary substantially depending on which procedures you and Dr. Harris have chosen to achieve your desired results. Nonetheless, we can give you a general overview here.
We noted earlier that Dr. Harris always begins most abdominal surgeries with 360o liposuction. Let’s assume he will do that for you since tummy tuck is nearly always part of a Mommy Makeover (and it is the most extensive procedure likely to be included). While most surgeons perform little to no liposuction preceding a tummy tuck, Dr. Harris usually treats at least seven areas including the lower back (sacrum), mid back, back bra roll, waist, hips, mons and upper and lower abdomen.
This all-around liposuction technique distinguishes Image Surgical Arts from other practices. It can distinctly improve your final appearance because you get “total picture” results rather than simply looking better from the front. Swimwear and clothing go all around, and we know you want to show off a great view from the back and sides as well.
No matter which procedures you choose, your surgery will be performed as an outpatient procedure in our own acclaimed, accredited state-of-the-art surgical center. The surgery itself will likely take between 3-4 hours, but of course you will need to allow more time for arrival and preparation as well as recovery before you head home again. No overnight stay needed.
Generally speaking, here’s what you can expect:
- General anesthesia is administered.
- You will lie face-down so Dr. Harris can perform liposuction as described above on the back and waist.
- We will move you onto your back, so Dr. Harris can continue performing liposuction on the abdomen and waistline. As mentioned earlier, we can remove only fat that lies on top of the muscles, directly below the skin.
- When liposuction is complete. Dr. Harris will begin the specific procedures you have chosen. For tummy tuck, for example, he will make an incision from hip to hip (at or below the bikini line) and tighten abdominal muscles if they were pulled apart during pregnancy. Then he will pull the skin downward (like lowering a window shade), trim away the excess, and suture the incision closed. He will also have made an incision around the belly button so he can reposition it correctly and suture it as well.
- For breast lift or augmentation, labiaplasty and/or or vaginal rejuvenation, he will follow the steps he explained to you during your consultation. Again, these will differ depending on the details of your surgical plan and desired overall results.
- Dr. Harris will place one or two drains as needed at incision sites at the time of closing, to remove any build-up of fluid.
- We will place you in appropriate compression garments, per Dr. Harris, then move you to our recovery room. There you will be monitored by one of our nurses until it is safe for you to go home.
The next day you will return to our office so Dr. Harris can see how you’re doing. He will check your surgical sites, demonstrate how to change your bandages and answer any questions you may have.
Part 4 – Heading Home
From the moment that you arrive home, it is essential that you follow all the instructions given to you by our clinical staff. There is a sound medical reason behind each detail, and we all want your recovery to go as quickly and successfully as possible.
Moms are always doing for others. This is your turn to be pampered, so relax and indulge!
A comfortable place to rest. Rest is fundamental for recovery. At first you may not be able to lie flat on your back, especially if Dr. Harris had to repair stretched abdominal muscles, and you cannot lay on your stomach because this would put pressure on your incisions or breasts. So many of our patients choose a recliner as their official recovery place, though a comfy couch with plenty of pillows or a chair and ottoman could work just as well. The pillows will help keep your head and shoulders elevated.
Comfort zone. No relaxation space is complete without accessories. Before you leave home for your Mommy Makeover, outfit your space with remote controls, books, water, medications – whatever essentials you will want to have right at hand.
Caregiver. Be sure the responsible adult who has agreed to help you for the first 48-72 hours is ready to go on duty. No matter how independent you normally are, you simply will not be able to do things on your own at first. So let someone else be the mom for a few days.
Absorbent padding. Incisions drain fluid at first. That’s a good thing, but there may be quite a bit of fluid, so absorbent padding can help keep your relaxation space dry and clean. Our patients recommend disposable absorbent pads for this (like puppy training pads).
Simple movements. Initially, your job following surgery will be to rest. Still, you need to keep your blood circulating to promote healing, encourage fluid drainage and avoid developing blood clots or pneumonia. That requires oxygen, too. So we will instruct you to walk a short distance every 2-3 hours and also do periodic deep breathing exercises.