What Is a "Mommy Makeover"?

Woman holding baby looking at postpartum body

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Having a baby—whether your first or your 10th—is a truly transformative experience. The joy that comes with meeting your little one as they enter this world can be one of the highest pinnacles of your life. Of course, having a newborn is going to change your schedule and your perspective. But you also may notice your body looks different than it did before pregnancy, too.

While some people wear these changes—a softer tummy, a c-section scar—like badges of honor, others would just as well prefer that their appearance returns to its pre-pregnancy state—or as close to it as possible. Certain cosmetic procedures designed to achieve that goal quickly are sometimes called "mommy makeovers."

To learn about what a mommy makeover entails, from slight enhancements to more extensive overhauls, we tapped the expertise of a board-certified plastic surgeon and board-certified dermatologist. Keep reading to learn all about what a mommy makeover is, procedures it can entail, and risks and considerations you may want to keep in mind. Above all, the decision to go forward with a mommy makeover is a personal one. But always remember: There’s an inherent beauty in being a mommy all on its own. 

What Is a "Mommy Makeover"?

The term “mommy makeover” is a chic-sounding moniker for a cornucopia of cosmetic procedures that restore the shape and appearance of a person’s body after pregnancy and/or childbirth. These procedures may involve almost any part of your body affected by pregnancy, like your breasts, buttocks, waist, belly, or genitalia, or be more general such as focusing on your skin in any of those areas and/or on your face, neck, arms, and legs.

“Pregnancy [and childbirth] can change the way a woman’s body looks,” says Jennifer Levine, MD, a double board-certified plastic surgeon with a practice in NYC. Left untreated, many of these changes may stay as they are, or only improve subtly with time, Dr. Levine adds. A mommy makeover can more significantly restore your body after pregnancy, allowing you to regain the appearance of the body you had—or even a more enhanced-looking one.

Dr. Levine stresses that a mommy makeover is not medically necessary. (Some other postpartum procedures to repair tissue or regain function might be.) However, if a mommy makeover might help a person's self-esteem, Dr. Levine encourages them to look into it. And always speak with a reputable, board-certified healthcare provider to discuss your options and any potential drawbacks.

What Are the Benefits of a Mommy Makeover?

Restoring your body to its pre-baby state can remove stubborn fat, tighten sagging skin, and enhance areas like breasts or buttocks that have lost volume or perkiness after pregnancy or childbirth. But some parents who've had positive experiences say that the benefits aren't just superficial.

“The goal is for a mom to feel like the best version of herself, whatever that is for the individual,” explains Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York and Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “A mommy makeover can restore confidence in addition to the physical benefits.”

Although we all know that true beauty comes from within, there is something to be said for the way being proud of your appearance can give you that extra boost of mojo. 

What Do Mommy Makeovers Include?

A mommy makeover typically involves multiple procedures performed in one surgery (usually lasting about three to five hours) in order to consolidate your recovery into one period of time. Some people choose to have a couple of small procedures while others opt for several. Here's the scoop on the most common mommy makeover procedures.

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

A tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat on your belly, while, in most cases, restoring stomach muscles weakened or separated (diastasis recti) by pregnancy. This can help create a smoother, firmer midsection.

Breast Lift (Mastopexy)

Breast lifts—with or without implants—tighten the tissue surrounding your breasts and remove excess skin to reshape them and better enhance their contour.

Breast Augmentation

Using either implants or fat from other parts of your body, breast augmentation restores volume and symmetry that may have been lost after pregnancy weight loss.

Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammaplasty)

Reducing the breasts involves removing excess tissue, fat, and skin to make your breasts a size that is optimally proportioned to the rest of your body. This procedure can also alleviate any pain or discomfort you may feel from being a bit more top-heavy than you'd like.

Buttocks Augmentation (Glutal Augmentation)

With either implants, fat from another area of your body, or a combination of the two, buttocks augmentation reshapes your backside to improve its contour, size, or shape.

Liposuction (Lipoplasty)

Quite literally suctioning fat from underneath your skin with a vacuum-like tube, liposuction can remove excess fat to improve your contours and proportion on numerous areas of the body. These can include your belly, waist, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, ankles, and upper arms, as well as your cheeks, chin, and neck.

Arm and/or Thigh Lift

Along the same lines as a breast lift, lifts performed on your arms or thighs remove, tighten, and smooth sagging skin while doing away with excess fat and providing contour.

Vaginal Rejuvenation

After childbirth, you may notice that your labia minora (the inner "lips" on either side of your vagina) have stretched out, drooped, or become asymmetrical. A labiaplasty trims them so they remain tucked inside your outer labia majora and restores symmetry.

Additionally, the muscles in your vagina and pelvic floor may have stretched out and have trouble bouncing back, leading to discomfort or reduced sensation. There are reconstructive surgical procedures available to tighten or reinforce these areas, says Dr. Levine.

Non-Surgical Mommy Makeover Procedures

If “going under the knife,” so to speak, doesn’t appeal to you, there are also other less invasive mommy makeover options to try. 

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Lasers can treat a multitude of common post-pregnancy concerns such as stretch marks, hyperpigmentation (like melasma), large pores, and fine lines and wrinkles sans surgery, according to Dr. Murphy-Rose. 

Dermal Fillers

If you’d like to get a more plump, youthful appearance on areas of your face like your cheeks or lips, Dr. Murphy-Rose also recommends injectable dermal fillers, which can provide immediate results. 

Botox

Via a few, minor pokes of a needle, Botox is an option for smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles for a fresher, more youthful appearance. Dr. Murphy-Rose notes that you’ll begin to notice a difference in only a few days, with full results visible within two weeks.

EmSculpt Neo

Dr. Levine notes there are noninvasive procedures aimed at sculpting the whole body, such as EmSculpt Neo. Utilizing radiofrequency and high-intensity electromagnetic impulses, it stimulates and builds your muscles to help strengthen them, reduce fat, and tighten your skin. It’s particularly helpful on your midsection, buttocks, arms, and calves.

SculpSure

Another noninvasive treatment Dr. Levine recommends is SculpSure, a heat light-based, fat-reducing, body-contouring technology.

CoolSculpting

CoolSculpting and its sister device, CoolTone, also target fat reduction. CoolSculpting freezes fat cells, causing cell death, which then leads to your body naturally eliminating them. It can be used to reduce pockets of fat in your belly, thighs, underneath your buttocks, your upper arms, under your jawline, and under your chin. CoolTone, on the other hand, is much like EmSculpt. It uses electromagnetic pulses to strengthen, tone, and firm muscles on your belly, thighs, and buttocks.

How Safe Is a Mommy Makeover?

As you can see, there are many surgical and nonsurgical treatments you can combine to get a mommy makeover designed to restore your body or face to a condition that may help you feel like you're looking your best. With that said, every procedure is not without its risks.

If you opt for plastic surgery, the potential risks depend on the type of procedures you’re undergoing. These can range from infection, poor wound healing, scarring, or lack of sensation to more serious complications such as tissue and skin cell death, cardiac or respiratory issues, or chronic pain.

Even minimally or noninvasive procedures are not without their risks. Lasers can cause redness, swelling, itching, scarring, hyperpigmentation, or pain. Fillers and Botox can both cause bruising and swelling, while fillers can result in an infection, allergic reaction, or impediment of a blood vessel. And Botox can cause the muscles of your face to droop or leave you with an undesirable result, cautions Dr. Murphy-Rose.

With all this taken into account, keep in mind that every person—and treatment—is different. So, speak with your doctor to discuss potential risks associated with mommy makeover procedures.

How Long After Childbirth Should You Wait Before Getting a Mommy Makeover?

We know, it can be tempting to want to bounce right back to your pre-baby body after childbirth. But, when it comes to a mommy makeover, patience is key. Giving birth is no easy feat, and it can take quite a toll on your body. It's important to be sure you give yourself plenty of time to heal from incisions and also allow your uterus to contract, your breasts to shrink, and for your body to return as close to its pre-pregnancy weight as possible. Usually, surgeons suggest waiting at least six months to a year before having any cosmetic procedures.

If you plan on having any other children, it’s also best to hold off. Becoming pregnant again may alter your shape in a new way, and some procedures, like a tummy tuck, are intended to be once-in-a-lifetime procedures. Plus, especially when undergoing any surgical procedures, you want to be sure you’re in the best health possible to help minimize any risks and prepare you for as smooth a recovery as possible.

A Word From Verywell Family

Mommy makeovers have gained more attention in recent years. And while they may help you get back to your pre-pregnancy body or better—or “turn back the clock” on any early signs of aging—they’re not without risks. Always talk to your healthcare provider to see if a mommy makeover is right for you, as well as what procedures may have particular benefits for you that may outweigh any possible risks. 

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17 Sources
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