Shape-Shifting Body Surgery: Why It’s Not Just For Mommies Anymore

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Shape-Shifting Body Surgery: Why It’s Not Just For Mommies Anymore featured image
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This article first appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

In the world of plastic surgery, the best way to address two of women’s most frustrating body complaints in one single session is referred to as a Mommy Makeover. This one-stop-shop combination procedure always includes breast reshaping and tummy tightening. Today, the list of add-on procedures continues to grow, so much so, that we should rename it the Total Transformation, which might actually be a better name for this “one and done” surgery.

The Ultimate Body Makeover

The term Mommy Makeover has many definitions depending on the surgeon, and can include many combinations of procedures. But don’t let the name fool you, any patient who wants to reduce operating costs and cut down on recovery time can opt for this treatment.

“While it is popular among mothers, I also have many patients who have never had children, such as those who have lost substantial weight,” says New York plastic surgeon B. Aviva Preminger, MD. “It helps to counteract aging changes in the body—mainly sagging in the breasts and abdomen, and hard-to-lose belly fat—and is intended to address a woman’s concerns and make her feel great about the way she looks.”

“Typically, it includes a limited or full tummy tuck with liposuction and some form of breast surgery, which can be a breast augmentation with or without a lift, a lift only or a reduction,” explains Encino, CA plastic surgeon George Sanders, MD.

Procedural Limits
Safety is always the main concern, and while there is no cap as to how many procedures can be performed at once, there is a limit on how long a patient can be in surgery. “It is recommended that the length of elective surgery be less than six hours,” says La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD. “Although, many ethical plastic surgeons would feel that certain combinations of procedures are excessive and have significant risk factors if performed in one stage.”

Dr. Preminger performed a Mommy Makeover on this 48-year-old patient that included a tummy tuck and natural-looking breast augmentation with implants.

Part 1: The Surgical Waist Trainer

As we age and put stress on our stomach, whether through pregnancy or weight fluctuations, its shape and size begins to change. A tummy tuck (also known as an abdominoplasty) may be the best option for restoring firmness and addressing excess fat and loose skin.

According to Newport Beach, CA plastic surgeon Sanjay Grover, MD, fat that forms into a belly bump is not our fault. “Post-pregnancy, the core abdominal muscles are never the same,” he says. “For some women, the linea alba—the connection between the left and right sides of the abdominal muscles—is overwhelmed during pregnancy, leaving a separation that persists long after delivery.” Known as diastasis recti, this condition occurs when the linea alba between the rectus abdominis muscles, or the “six-pack” muscles, is stretched. “It then becomes weaker and wider than normal,” Dr. Grover explains, “which can lead to a bulge in the stomach where the muscles no longer meet.

Tighten + Tone
During surgery, small pockets of fat are removed with liposuction and an incision is made at the pubic bone through which the muscles are tightened and excess skin is removed. Dr. Singer advises that for the best results with the least likelihood of potential complications, patients should be done having children, weigh within 10 pounds of their ideal weight and have a BMI of less than 30.

Defining Moment
For 50-year-old patient Elizabeth E., reviving her pre-baby body took more than a decade. “I had an emergency C-section, which left me with a prominent scar down my stomach. As the years went on, I could never lose the weight in my abdomen, and it grew into a disfiguring shape.

To give Elizabeth a flat stomach for the first time in 13 years, Chicago plastic surgeon Michael Horn, MD performed an abdominoplasty. “Not only did he get rid of the excess skin and fat; he gave me a body I never thought I could have. All of my dieting and exercise could never have given me this result. Now, I love walking around the house naked and seeing my reflection in the mirror.”

Body Boosters
These skin smoothers nourish, exfoliate and protect every last inch of skin: MUTHA Body Oil ($104), Colleen Rothschild Beauty Tahitian Monoi Body Butter ($38) and Jordan Samuel Skin Granita di Caffè Body Scrub ($34).

Part 2: The Anti-Gravity Bust-Enhancer

When upper pole fullness in the breasts is lost and they begin to succumb to gravity due to aging or post-pregnancy, a breast enhancement—typically with implants or a lift—can restore their shape and size. “Breast augmentations are frequently performed with silicone gel implants,” says Dr. Grover, “including the round gel style with different profiles and the shaped cohesive gel ‘Gummy Bear’ implants, which some surgeons feel can avoid issues like capsular contraction.”

Implants aren’t the only option to restore the breasts: Some patients opt for a reduction, fat transfer or a lift instead. “I do a lot of short-scar breast reductions and breast augmentations with fat grafting for more natural-looking results,” adds Dr. Preminger. A breast augmentation with fat transfer involves an extra step of doing liposuction first to take fat from other parts of the body, which is then used to inject into the breasts. “This is a good option for women who are looking for a relatively small increase in size.”

Lift + Reshape
For breast lifts, Dr. Grover says the technique used can vary based on the patient’s needs. “Some breast lifts are performed with a doughnut technique, in which an incision is made around the nipple, while others require a lollipop technique, and some require an anchor scar incision. This depends on how much skin needs to be tailored and how much the nipple should be raised.”


This 37-year-old patient sought Dr. Grover for a breast lift with silicone gel implants, and a tummy tuck for a flatter torso.

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