While there are different types of plastic surgery after weight loss, they all share one goal: To address contour deformity due to poor skin tone and “redundancy,” soft tissue laxity, and highly fibrous fats.
All body contouring surgeries for massive weight loss (MWL) patients will require direct excision, thereby the appearance of scar is an inevitable tradeoff if they want to achieve a near normal appearance and/or find relief from pain, irritation, and skin breakdown caused by the large folds of skin.
Below is the list of the most common types of plastic surgery after weight loss, according to California Surgical Institute website.
* Tummy tuck. While the standard technique uses a hip-to-hip incision, MWL patients typically require a longer flank-to-flank incision for further contouring. Despite the resulting scar, studies have suggested that it can result in high patient satisfaction due to notable improvements in the quality of life and body functions, as the redundant skin in the abdomen is the most problematic—i.e., it causes irritation and foul odor.
* Thigh lift. Depending on the location of redundant skin, it may involve incisions within the groin and gluteal crease, on the inner thigh that could be extended into the knee area, in the hips, or a combination of these incision patterns.
* Buttock lift. Most MWL patients require a horizontal incision on the upper butt cheeks.
* Lower body lift. This accomplishes the goals of tummy tuck, outer thigh lift, and buttock lift under one operation as it uses a belt-like incision.
* Arm lift. For MWL patients, it typically uses a long incision on the inner arm or somewhat more posteriorly (starting from the armpit to the elbow), depending on the location of redundant skin.
* Breast enhancement. Female patients may require breast lift and/or reduction, while males may need gynecomastia surgery to correct their woman-like breast caused by the excess skin and/or fat.
* Liposuction. As a stand-alone procedure, it does not provide optimal results for MWL patients who really require an excision-based body contouring surgery because this is the only way to remove the large folds of skin.
Liposuction for MWL patients is often needed for debulking, or removing large amount of excess “fibrous” fat, which does not respond to further weight loss. Most surgeons perform the procedure at least six months prior to an excision-based surgery.
While “simultaneous” liposuction is sometimes acceptable, MWL patients generally require a stage approach to minimize the amount of surgical trauma and to reduce the risk associated with fluid imbalance and bleeding.
This mommy makeover FAQ list aims to help you decide if body contouring to reverse the effects of pregnancy is a good procedure for you.
- Questions: What are the most commonly combined procedures?
Answer: There is no standard approach since it all boils down to the underlying anatomies and cosmetic goals; however, a good number of patients combine breast enhancement surgery (augmentation or lift) and tummy tuck in one surgical setting.
- Q: How long is the operation?
A: There are many factors that affect the operating time, although most surgeons agree that keeping an elective surgery under six hours is one effective way to minimize bleeding and other complications.
- Q: Does it always result in scarring?
A: Any time the skin is cut or injured, scarring inevitably occurs. Nevertheless, mommy makeover surgeries typically use incisions that are placed within the natural creases of skin (e.g., breast crease during breast implant surgery) and beneath the underwear area (e.g., tummy tuck and butt augmentation or lift) to hide the scars.
- Q: How much does it cost?
A: The number of operations, facility, professional fee, and clinic location are just some of the key factors that affect the total price. But to provide some rough estimate, $6,000 – $9,000 is the average cost of breast enhancement surgery, $4,000 – $6,000 for tummy tuck, and $3,000 – $5,000 for abdominal liposuction.
For this reason, a good number of mommy makeover patients can expect to pay between $10,000 and $30,000.
- Q: What are the financing options available?
A: Regular and health care credit cards, home equity loans, personal bank loans, and in-house financing are just some of the options one may consider.
6. Q: What are the ways to maintain the effects of mommy makeover?
A: Healthy lifestyle, proper diet and regular exercise for weight management, avoidance of pregnancy, and good skin care regimen are the keys to maintain the effects of mommy makeover or any body contouring surgery.
7. Q: Who performs mommy makeover surgeries?
A: While some states allow non-specialists (i.e., doctors who have no specific training in plastic surgery) to offer cosmetic surgery, a prudent patient should only choose someone certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery.
The “right” surgeon should also be performing mommy makeover procedures on a regular basis for a minimum of 10 years. It is important to note that experience has a huge impact on the surgery’s success and patient satisfaction rate.
Mommy makeover surgeons focus on plastic surgery procedures that reverse the effects of pregnancy, such as tummy tuck and breast enhancement. But to achieve good long-term results, these are best performed when the patient is done having children, as suggested by renowned body contouring expert Dr. Tarick Smaili.
Qualified mommy makeover surgeons must meet the strict requirements stated below.
As of this writing, there are several medical boards that “certify” doctors who want to offer cosmetic plastic surgeries. However, the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which requires the highest and most stringent requirements, remains the “gold standard.”
ABPS doctors are also required to take a rigorous oral and written exam every 10 years, and are mandated by board regulation to perform surgery only in accredited operating rooms and to adhere to a high level of patient care.
- Extensive and relevant experience
Plastic surgery has a wide range of subspecialties, e.g., facial rejuvenation, nose reshaping surgery, body contouring after weight loss, mommy makeover, breast enhancement, etc.
The general rule of thumb is to choose a surgeon whose patients are mostly women who want to reverse the effects of pregnancy. Ideally, he should be performing mommy makeovers for 10 years on a regular basis.
- Extensive collection of before-and-after photos
The before-and-after photos from previous surgeries can help the patient evaluate her doctor’s technical and artistic skills. It is also ideal that she finds a few “subjects” whose body frame (i.e., height, body shape, and area of concern) closely resembles hers.
- Offer good rapport and honest discussion
A good surgeon will make every effort to promote honest and transparent communication, which in turn could allow his patient to settle realistic goals and feel comfortable with whatever surgery she may choose.
Meanwhile, a prudent patient should avoid anyone who makes unrealistic promises or forces her to have more surgeries than she actually wants.
- Prioritize patient safety above all
A good surgeon will always prioritize patient safety above anything else. For this reason, he only performs surgeries in accredited hospitals or outpatient centers, uses all efforts to minimize surgical trauma (e.g., limiting the operating time), and conducts strict patient selection.
It is important to note that patients with healing problems and other serious medical conditions and those with unrealistic goals are poor candidates for any type of cosmetic plastic surgery.
Abdominal plastic surgery after weight loss generally deals with heavy folds of redundant skin that not only cause poor body proportion, but may also result in foul odor due to trapped sweat and moisture, which in turn can lead to skin breakdown and non-healing irritation.
Panniculectomy is one of the most commonly performed plastic surgeries after massive weight loss, i.e., losing more than 100 pounds. It uses a long horizontal incision within the lower abdomen to remove large amounts of skin.
While panniculectomy and tummy tuck both use a long horizontal incision, the former is primarily designed to excise large skin folds that are caused by massive weight loss.
Tummy tuck, meanwhile, is more about contouring the abdominal area by merging two basic principles: remove the excess skin and reshape the underlying muscle with the use of internal sutures. For this reason, the procedure is not just suitable for MWL patients, but also for women who want to reverse the effects of pregnancy.
Occasionally, these two procedures are performed in stages. For instance, MWL patients who are still expecting further weight loss may undergo panniculectomy to address their non-healing skin irritation caused by the heavy folds of tissue. At a later date, they could opt for tummy tuck after they achieve their weight goal and desire for additional contouring.
A good number of MWL patients could also benefit from large-volume liposuction or fat removal surgery. One ideal approach is to perform it prior to tummy tuck, so the surgeon can see how much the skin would respond. Removing the fat may aggravate the sagging appearance, although younger skin to some extent may redrape to the new contour.
Months after large-volume liposuction, subsequent tummy tuck is ideal to remove the hanging skin and reshape the weak or splayed abdominal muscle that contributes to the sagging appearance.
To reshape and tighten the abdominal muscle, plastic surgeons in Los Angeles may either use permanent or absorbable sutures. Irrespective of the technique used at the time of surgery, at six weeks there is already a strong muscle adhesion that can protect the results from minimal to moderate weight gain and even unexpected pregnancy.
Nevertheless, it remains highly ideal to maintain a normal weight and avoid pregnancy to preserve the results of surgery.
While abdominal plastic surgery after weight loss is generally categorized as cosmetic procedure, thus it is not typically covered by health insurance, studies have suggested that it can play a critical role in long-term weight management since the new contour can serve as a strong motivation to lead a healthy life.
Financing mommy makeover surgery is one of the most common concerns of patients who want to reverse the effects of pregnancy. According to one survey its average cost is between $10,000 and $30,000; the highly variable price is due to several factors such as the number and type of surgeries, surgeon’s fee, and geographical location.
While mommy makeover surgery is a customized combination of plastic surgery aiming to reverse the effects of pregnancy, the vast majority of patients ask for tummy tuck to reshape their abdominal area and some type of breast enhancement (e.g., breast lift, augmentation, or reduction).
The aforementioned procedures are all considered as an elective, cosmetic plastic surgery and are not covered by health insurance.
While there are several financing options nowadays, most doctors recommend their patients to achieve a decent level of financial stability prior to any elective procedure. The consensus is to have available funds at least twice the amount of the surgery’s actual cost to anticipate longer-than-normal recovery, more time off from work, and possible hospitalization and medical care in the event of complication.
One popular financing option is medical credit card, which is limited to healthcare services such as plastic surgery, dermatology, wellness needs, and dental works. To some extent, this credit line is better than ordinary “plastic money” because it precludes binge shopping and unnecessary purchases.
Medical credit cards often have online tools that allow patients to search for doctors or clinics that are part of their financing option. Many also have online payment calculator to help people assess their ability, or lack thereof, to pay for their plastic surgery.
It is important to note that while many lenders allow minimum monthly payments, doing so will not let people to pay off the balance by the end of their promotional period (e.g., zero introductory rate for 12-18 years), according to Inland Empire plastic surgery experts.
Some plastic surgeons also offer an in-office financing, which can be a viable option if it involves an easy monthly payment plan.
Another possible financing mommy makeover surgery option is home equity loan in which the interest is based on current mortgage rates. While this is an accessible line of credit for homeowners, it could result in financial troubles should the interest rates unexpectedly increased.