For many women, pregnancy can leave the body a little different from it was before baby. Stretch marks, changing shape and increased (and sometimes decreased) breast size are just some of the changes women go through during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Many women are looking to reduce the signs of pregnancy and give themselves a beauty boost post-partum by undergoing cosmetic and aesthetic procedures.
Members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons report an increase in the number of women seeking post-partum procedures since 2005. On average, the increase has been roughly 10 percent per year, and popular procedures range from laser skin rejuvenation to breast augmentation and liposuction. Many women choose to combine these individual procedures in a package, commonly termed as the "mom job" or "mom makeover," in order to address their desired changes in one surgical swoop.
Breast surgery is one of the most popular procedures among post-partum moms. Breast surgery options for patients include augmentation implant or fat transfer surgery, breast reductions and breast lift procedures to achieve the patient’s desired look. Pregnancy can impact the breasts in many different ways, and patients may experience sagging, swelling, disproportionate breasts and in some cases, may even experience loss of breast tissue and their breasts shrinking. "The body and the breasts change significantly during and after pregnancy. Many women find after pregnancy that the clothes they wore pre-pregnancy do not fit quite the same as they did before – even after losing the weight they gained during pregnancy," says Mona Alquali, M.D., FACOG, a Clinton, Iowa, obstetrician and gynecologist trained in cosmetic surgery.
Alquali frequently performs cosmetic surgery and other aesthetic procedures on patients she has treated for their obstetric and gynecological needs. "Most patients looking for cosmetic surgery procedures after having a baby are simply looking to regain their shape after having children," says Alquali. Some patients may be able to rebound to their pre-baby shape after delivery, but that is often determined by genetics and age. Multiple pregnancies or pregnancies with multiples, like twins, can also impact the body. "Many women who have had multiple pregnancies may find it is harder to recover her original shape after each pregnancy," says Alquali.
Another area that is a popular area of cosmetic treatment is the abdomen. Naturally, the abdomen stretches and grows during pregnancy. Along with it, so does the skin – which can result in stretch marks. Stretch marks cannot be totally erased but can be treated post-pregnancy through laser skin resurfacing to reduce their appearance.
Additionally, some women also find that post baby they may struggle to tone and tighten some areas. Areas like the upper arm and the sides of the abdomen are two of these especially stubborn areas and may require a little extra help – despite a patient’s healthy diet and exercise regimen. "Some areas are nearly impossible for some patients to tone, because the tissue is tough and fibrous," says Alquali. In these situations, patients may choose to have liposuction at the same time as their breast surgery. Alquali cautions that liposuction is not a weight-loss tool; rather it removes fat from these stubborn spots and reshapes the patient’s physique. "Liposuction is an excellent way to resculpt the body," she says. Liposuction can be done in combination with other cosmetic procedures in order to minimize surgeries.
Cosmetic procedures can give a patient a boost in confidence and self-esteem, says Alquali. "Many patients looking to have procedures after having a baby may have body hang ups due to their post-baby body not aligning with what they think they should look like."
Ideally, candidates looking for post-partum cosmetic procedures like liposuction and breast surgery should be finished having children and finished breastfeeding and be at a healthy weight. Patients should be nonsmokers and in good health. Because some procedures can be major surgeries, like breast augmentations, patients should be aware of restrictions during recovery and have help on hand during the post-op period.