After giving birth, many women learn the hard way that getting your pre-baby body back can be challenging. Vicki (who asked that we not use her last name), who considers herself a very healthy and fit 53-year-old, tried everything. She is a faithful gym-goer who exercises consistently and eats right, but there were areas on her body that just weren’t responding the way she had hoped. “I have been at a healthy weight for the last 10 years,” Vicki says. “I just couldn’t seem to get my abs back. No matter what my dress size was, that tummy was still there.” That’s why she began looking into getting a “mommy makeover,” a procedure that is appropriately named because it addresses the two areas that childbirth affects: the abdomen and the breasts.
After a meeting with double board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Warner Papillion at Cool Springs Plastic Surgery, Vicki learned that every time a woman is pregnant, her ab muscles stretch and separate slightly. And after four pregnancies, she had some significant muscle separation that no amount of exercise was going to fix.
“In addition to this disconnection, the skin is also stretched out significantly each time a woman carries a child,” Dr. Papillion says. “A large amount of the loose skin will retract. However, for most patients, the skin will never snap back to the same tightness they had before pregnancy. Some lucky patients have better elasticity of the skin and can get close to pre-baby form with the help of exercise and their genetic gifts. Many women are not as fortunate, and no matter how much they work out, they may never be able to regain the body contour and appearance they once had before children.”
Vicki says she had a lot of excess skin and tissue that she just couldn’t get rid of, which is why she considered plastic surgery in the first place. “I did not go into this with the attitude that he was going to make me look different,” she shares. “I wasn’t looking for a new person; I wanted to be the best version of myself.”
She says she scheduled appointments with three plastic surgeons and was going to have an initial consultation with each one before making her selection. She met with Dr. Papillion first and booked her surgery before she even left the office that day. “I went in and explained to him the areas on my body that I wasn’t happy with,” she says. “He showed me photos from prior surgeries that he thought were similar to my case. I was very encouraged. I saw so many that looked so natural, you wouldn’t know the person had plastic surgery.”
So, Vicki and Dr. Papillion worked together to customize the procedure — her mommy makeover.
“After childbirth and breastfeeding, the breasts typically change shape and size,” explains Dr. Papillion. “They often to lose volume, leaving a deflated look with no fullness at the upper portion of the breast. In addition to the size change, many patients also experience a new sagging of the breast. After children, many women desire simply to look as they did before pregnancy. In some cases, the patients wish for increased size and shape to the breast, oftentimes referring to the look and fullness they acquired while breastfeeding.”
Dr. Papillion said the bulk of the mommy makeovers include a breast augmentation or augmentation with a lift of the breast and an abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck. These procedures, he says, make up about 75 percent of his practice.
In October of 2017, Vicki went in for her mommy makeover, and after nearly six hours of surgery and weeks of recovery, she says she would 110 percent do it all over again. “I have the abs of a 16-year-old,” she says.
Vicki’s procedure included some liposuction and the removal of some fatty tissue from underneath her armpits, which she says were impossible to get rid of without surgery.
“I started seeing improvement almost immediately. Even though I knew I was swollen, just the smoothness of the site where the tissue had been removed was encouraging,” she explains. “I was trying on swimsuits seven days after my surgery. I was so excited!”
Both Vicki and Dr. Papillion agree that the ideal candidate for a mommy makeover is someone who comes to the table with realistic goals. “I love taking care of patients with a positive attitude who have a clear understanding of the expectations for surgery,” says Dr. Papillion.
Vicki says she went into her surgery very self-assured and feeling beautiful — a mindset she shares is crucial to a successful surgery. “My surgery didn’t give me confidence; it increased my confidence level,” Vicki states. “I think you have to be confident with who you are going in, and you will come out even more so. I have found that for some reason, plastic surgery is very difficult for women to talk about. As women, we should focus more on how we feel about ourselves and not so much about how others view us or our decisions about surgery. Being a mom is very demanding, and I believe if you feel good about yourself, you are more able to empower those around you. After all, we deserve to feel and be beautiful!”
Dr. Papillion encourages anyone who is interested in a mommy makeover to do their homework and make sure that any plastic surgeon they speak with is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
“Having that certification means that I have gone through a rigorous plastic surgery training program to not only do the procedures, but also be able to take care of any problems that might arise,” explains Dr. Papillion. “The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the gold standard governing board for plastic and reconstructive surgery.”
At the age of 53 and after four pregnancies, Vicki was able to rediscover complete confidence in herself. If you relate to Vicki in any way, schedule a consultation to see if a mommy makeover is the right fit for you.
Cool Springs Plastic Surgery has three area locations. To learn more about the services they offer, visit coolspringsplasticsurgery.net.