When I first started practice almost 25 years ago, most mothers accepted they were stuck with their post pregnancy body for life. It was not something they relished. Rather it was something they accepted as a consequence of being a mum. Nowadays, women are enjoying more choice than ever before and are often exercising it by rejuvenating their post pregnancy bodies.
One of the most common phrases I hear in practice is, “I love my children…and I want my body back!” Pregnancy plays havoc with a woman’s body, particularly the abdomen (tummy) and breasts. Over the 9 months of pregnancy, in order to accommodate a growing baby, the skin of the tummy stretches literally to breaking point, often with accompanying stretch marks. This often leaves loose and floppy tummy skin. Along with this, the muscle that runs down the centre of the tummy, from the ribs to the pubic area, is split in two as the baby grows. After the birth of one child, the muscle tries its best to come back to the midline. After a second or subsequent children, or a multiple birth, the muscle stays split apart. As a twenty year old, this well toned muscle gives rise to a flat tummy. After children, the muscle is separated and offers no support to the abdominal contents, which bulge out. No amount of sit-ups will help, resulting in a permanent bulge in the lower part of the tummy. Furthermore fat laid down during pregnancy seems to persist after the birth, leaving a more boxy shape rather than the hour-glass shape women typically have when younger.
The breasts following pregnancy are often more unpredictable. Before the birth, the breasts get larger and may droop. They get even larger when a woman’s milk comes in. After breast-feeding (or even if a woman doesn’t breast feed) the breasts can stay droopy and often shrink away to less than what she had prior to pregnancy.
Hence, the cost of pregnancy on a woman’s body is often a bulging, shapeless, floppy tummy and droopy, empty breasts. Women try to cover these changes by wearing formless, loose-fitting clothing and padded or push up bras. In the past, they accepted their ‘matronly’ look and simply put up with it for the rest of their lives.
Nowadays, women are often becoming educated and establishing their career before commencing their family. For the first time in history the average age for a woman giving birth to her first child is more than 30. When she has finished her family she is more likely an independent, financially secure woman. On a daily basis she is inundated with images on television, magazines or social media of how she should look. Celebrities are consistently portrayed as regaining their pre pregnancy bodies in no time with minimal effort. Although it is rarely acknowledged by celebrities, this is usually gained through Plastic Surgery. Consequently, the ability to rejuvenate the body through surgery has now become far more socially acceptable.
In order to provide the highest quality service and have a happy patient, my aim is, where possible, to give a woman what she wants. When she first attends my practice I will ask her to describe her ideal outcome from the procedure. Invariably, she will say she would like to go back to how she used to be prior to pregnancy. She knows she won’t be exactly the same but she would like a more shapely, tighter, flatter tummy and firmer, fuller breasts. When I ask, what that will give her, the answer is almost always, “more confidence”.
Some women just want their tummies done – a tummy tuck. Others want their breasts done, which for some can mean a breast uplift, for some it is a breast augmentation and for others it is a combination of breast uplift and augmentation. Sometimes the breasts have increased in size with pregnancy and women request a breast reduction. More and more women are choosing to have both their tummies and breasts rejuvenated at the one procedure, saving on cost and downtime.
A tummy tuck aims to provide a more shapely, flatter, tighter tummy. It requires a general anaesthetic for 2 hours and an average two-night stay in hospital. Most women feel comfortable to return to work after two weeks and are completely back to normal after 6 weeks.
Most mums request their breasts to look natural rather than ‘fake’. If they require an augmentation, I usually suggest a tear-drop shaped implant as it gives a more gradual take off of the breast and more fullness at and below the nipple. Tear-drop shaped implants need to be inserted in a special way in order to lessen the risk of rotation. The result is a natural looking, fuller breast.
Most breast procedures require a general anaesthetic for 1-2 hours. Some can be done as day-patients and others require an overnight stay in hospital. Most women feel comfortable to return to work after one week and are completely back to normal after 6 weeks.
For those requesting their tummy and breast procedure be combined, they require a general anaesthetic for 3-4 hours and an average 2 night stay in hospital. Most women feel comfortable to return to work after two weeks and are completely back to normal after 6 weeks.
I love hearing the stories of the difference these procedures make to the women who have chosen to undergo surgery. It takes courage to have surgery however for most women, the benefits mitigate the risk. Many report the increased confidence they feel has them feeling more feminine and more sexy. The biggest beneficiary of this is her husband or partner, yet the increased confidence radiates out further to her children and those around her.
This is one of the reasons I love what I do. I make a difference in a mother’s life and that flows from her out to others. For me, this is an enormous privilege.