Mommy makeover recovery tips all aim to keep the swelling, bruising, and pain to a minimum. Nonetheless, the “specifics” may differ from patient to patient due variables such as individual health, type of surgeries involved, and presence of risk factors (e.g., longer operative time and medical conditions).
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smiley has shared his mommy makeover recovery tips that can help patients bounce back quick after their operation.
Photo Credit: Exparel website
(Note: All his patients are required to pass lab screening to ensure that they can handle mommy makeover surgery, which is basically a combination of two or more procedures that aim to reverse the effects of pregnancy. For most of his patients, some type of breast enhancement with tummy tuck is the most common “combo surgery.”)
Keeping the amount of postop pain is one of the critical factors that can guarantee a quick recovery. When patients feel no or very little pain, they breathe better and move with more ease, which then promote healing.
Dr. Smiley injects Exparel into the abdominal muscle right after tummy tuck surgery when the patient is still on the operating table. This drug contains bupivacaine, which causes temporary numbness in the area and so the patient relies less on oral painkillers, which may cause nausea, lethargy, and constipation.
Exparel can numb the injection site for up to four days, says the leading plastic surgeon.
Multiple surgeries typically entail a more challenging recovery as compared to “single operation.” Hence, it becomes more important than ever to have a competent adult who is committed to stay with the patient for at least 1-2 days after surgery.
Occasionally, it is more ideal to stay for a few days in a licensed recovery facility, which is staffed by specially trained medical professionals who will monitor the patient’s health before she is able to return home to recover.
It is important to note that for 2-3 weeks, the patient’s main focus should be her recovery. For this reason, she needs someone to take care of her small children and do all the daily chores until she has recovered fully to do all these tasks without compromising her healing.
Dr. Smiley provides all his patients with a list of supplies they will need for their recovery. This can range from ready-to-eat foods, bottled water, pain medications, to compression garments
Recovery from mommy makeover surgery—a combination of body contouring procedures that can reverse the effects of pregnancy—may vary greatly from patient to patient. Nonetheless, patients are generally advised to avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for six weeks to prevent healing problems.
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley says most of the pain will come from muscle repair performed during tummy tuck, a surgery that contours the frontal and lateral aspect of the waist. The discomfort from breast enhancement such as breast lift and augmentation, meanwhile, is much easier to control.
To minimize the postop pain resulting from tummy tuck, which in turn can promote healing, Dr. Smiley says he always injects Exparel into the abdominal muscle at the very end of his surgery. The effects of this numbing medication can last for up to four days, allowing his patients to reduce their use of narcotics or even avoid them altogether.
In the first few days postop, Dr. Smiley recommends his patients to arrange for help at home so they can focus on their recovery instead of stressing over routine chores like childcare, cooking, driving kids, etc. Simply put, they need all the help they can get during the initial healing phase.
Taking care of small children (under the age of 2) at home is particularly discouraged during the initial healing stage. For this reason, mommy makeover really requires advanced planning for a more convenient recovery.
Patients should also expect lethargy that can last 4-6 weeks and so they may need to sleep more; additionally, they may lack the energy to do their usual activities, he adds.
In general, young patients bounce back sooner than older patients, although recovery from mommy makeover surgery still boils down to individual healing. For this reason, the celebrity plastic surgeon requires lab screening to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle the surgery and the ensuing recovery.
When going back to “desk” work, Dr. Smiley typically recommends 1-2 weeks off; however, some patients file for a longer leave or choose to work part time until they regain their preoperative energy level, which can take up to six weeks.
The topic involving mommy makeover safety protocols is quite extensive and “hifalutin” and so leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley has only focused on the most important issues, which he has explained on his recent Snapchat videos.
The celebrity plastic surgeon regularly posts videos and images involving different plastic surgery procedures on his Snapchat account and other social media platforms as a way to help raise patient awareness and safety.
(Note: Mommy makeover is a combination of body contouring surgeries that reverse the effects of pregnancy. Arguably, the most common “combo procedure” is tummy tuck with some type of breast enhancement, or liposuction.)
Dr. Smiley, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has performed thousands of mommy makeover surgeries, says the first step to ensure patient safety is to conduct lab screening.
The extent or “specifics” of lab screening may depend on the medical history of the patient; hence, no one should hide or omit any part of this critical information to avoid complications or less than optimal results.
Dr. Smiley says that after passing his lab screening, his board-certified anesthesiologist also conducts his own physical exam to further ascertain that the patients are healthy enough to sustain the surgery and its ensuing recovery.
To further ensure mommy makeover safety, he oversees his four surgery center facilities, all of which have been fully accredited by state health regulators. Accreditation means that they adhere to the strictest patient safety standards; are staffed by licensed medical practitioners; and follow the guidelines to prevent infection and contamination.
Even the ventilation systems of his four accredited facilities are designed to curb air-borne pathogens, says Dr. Smiley.
One of the challenges of mommy makeover or any multiple surgeries procedure is the increased bleeding. Hence, Dr. Smiley may use an equipment called Cell Saver, which is particularly helpful in large volume liposuction.
Cell Saver collects the red blood cells from the fluids removed during liposuction so these can be re-infused into the patients and thus no significant blood loss has occurred. Ultimately, they experience quicker recovery and avoid lethargy and dizziness, which usually follow after a multiple plastic surgery procedure.
Breast lift with tummy tuck is a common mommy makeover combo surgery. Because of the operation’s extent, this is only reserved for healthy patients who can handle the ensuing recovery, says leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley.
Dr. Smiley has recently posted on his Snapchat account a case study involving a female patient who requested breast lift with tummy tuck.
The patient flew from Hawaii to have her surgery conducted by the celebrity plastic surgeon who performs over a hundred mommy makeover surgeries every year. (In one Snapchat video post, he revealed that he has already operated on more than 7,000 tummy tuck patients.)
The patient had large areola that aggravated the appearance of her drooping breasts. For this reason, Dr. Smiley recommended reducing her areolar complex to achieve a more proportionate, youthful result.
Using a cookie-cutter device, he delineated the new smaller areola by removing some of the dark-pigmented skin from its border.
After reducing the areola—ensuring that the resulting scar lies precisely at the dark-light skin junction to make it undetectable—Dr. Smiley then used vertical incisions between the nipple area and the breast crease to elevate the tissue, leading to a perkier appearance.
To further achieve impressive breast contour, Dr. Smiley placed incisions parallel to the breast crease; hence, the resulting scar lies precisely at the natural skin fold for its optimal concealment.
(Note: The overall shape of the scar resembles a nautical anchor, thus most surgeons call this breast lift technique as anchor lift.)
While the vertical scar of the anchor lift is in a more obvious location, Dr. Smiley says it generally heals and blends nicely into the background after 6-12 months. However, this is only possible with proper wound closure technique in which there is no or very little tension on the skin surface.
Aside from closing the wound in several rows to eliminate superficial tension, Dr. Smiley says he prefers absorbable sutures, which are known to promote favorable scars and are less likely to cause the appearance of “railroad tracks.”
After breast lift, Dr. Smiley proceeded to tummy tuck in which he used a hip-to-hip incision to remove the sagging skin and repair the abdominal muscle that had become separated due to pregnancy. The resulting scar has been made very low that the patient can wear a scanty two-piece bikini without any problem.
Overtime, the hip-to-hip tummy tuck is expected to fade and shrink almost to the width of a human hair.
Once the incisions from mommy makeover surgery are fully healed, Dr. Smiley recommends the use of silicone sheet and gel; the goal is to hydrate the scar and allow it to fade into the background.
Preparation for mommy makeover surgery is critical to achieve optimal results and reduce risk of complications. The idea is to help the patient reach her highest normal range of health, says leading Inland Empire plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley.
Mommy makeover is considered a “large” surgery because it typically combines two or more procedures in one surgical setting. Common combo techniques include breast augmentation with lift, tummy tuck with some type of breast enhancement, and tummy tuck with liposuction of the flanks.
While any body contouring surgery entails being near one’s ideal weight, drastic weight loss in the month leading up to the operation is greatly discouraged because of the ensuing malnutrition, muscle loss, and possible dehydration (due to low calorie diet), which can all affect healing.
If the patient is overweight, weight loss should happen gradually (just 1-2 lbs. per week) and is started way ahead of the surgery.
Following superb diet months prior to surgery can also make a huge difference in healing. A good rule of thumb is to increase protein consumption (it should account for 15-25 percent of the total calorie intake) and avoid or at least limit processed carbs and foods high in refined sugar, sodium, and fats.
Some doctors recommend supplementation about a month before and after surgery to ensure that their patients are getting enough iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and other micro-nutrients that play a critical role in healing.
Before taking any supplementation or herbal remedy, a prudent patient should always ask for her doctor’s permission first. It is important to note that some vitamins and supplements are known to increase bleeding or interfere with anesthesia or painkillers.
Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anticoagulants, and some antidepressants can also increase bleeding and aggravate the amount of postop bruises. The general rule of thumb is to avoid them 2-3 weeks ahead of the surgery and about a week afterward.
Smoking also has detrimental effects on healing. Not only it increases the risk of bleeding, infection, and skin necrosis, it also makes smokers susceptible to heart disturbances and lung-related problems following a surgery. For this reason, complete cessation for a minimum of three weeks before and after surgery is critical.
Lab screening is another important aspect of preparation for mommy makeover. It is ideally performed not later than 10 days prior to surgery to ensure the patient has achieved her optimal health.
Mommy makeover revision surgery becomes necessary because of three basic reasons: inadvertent pregnancy, significant weight fluctuations, and botched results from the initial procedure.
A mommy makeover surgery is any combination of body contouring procedures that generally focus on improving the appearance of abdomen and breasts, areas that are highly susceptible to the effects of pregnancy.
Leading body contouring expert Dr. Tarick Smiley says all efforts are made to avoid the need for mommy makeover revision, adding that it always starts with proper patient selection—i.e., the patient must be near her ideal weight and is done having children.
Nevertheless, “inadvertent” pregnancy and drastic weight fluctuations do happen, which can change if not reverse the results of tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and breast lift, which are the three most common mommy makeover procedures performed by the celebrity plastic surgeon.
Oftentimes, mommy makeover revision is possible provided that the patient’s weight has been stable for at least six months and/or she has fully recovered from the “trauma” of childbirth (it takes about 6-12 months); however, a longer waiting period is deemed necessary if one chooses to breastfeed.
It is important to note that the hormones that trigger the body to produce milk have some effect on skin elasticity or shrinkage; hence, the patient must wait at least six months after weaning, says Dr. Smiley.
All efforts are made to avoid additional scars in mommy makeover revision, so the surgeon would simply use the previous incision sites. However, some patients may have to accept a longer scar to achieve the optimal breast shape or to preserve the natural curves and contours of their tummy.
For instance, a patient who previously had a mini tummy tuck (its scar is typically 4-6 inches in length) but later gained weight or became pregnant may need her scar extended from hip to hip, which is the standard technique, to achieve a flatter abdomen and a narrower waistline.
Also, a patient who had a modified form of breast lift (less scarring) may have to accept the scars from the standard technique (it uses an anchor-shaped incision for additional lifting effect) if she requires a more extensive revision.
In the event of botched mommy makeover surgery, Dr. Smiley says it is of critical importance to wait at least six months before a revision is attempted. The idea is to wait for the skin to relax and the implants (in the case of breast augmentation surgery) to settle.
Performing revisions too soon is like “hitting a moving target,” hence the results are harder to predict, he explains.