A “mommy makeover” is about reclaiming a woman’s body to her pre-childbirth shape. While childbirth can be one of the happiest moments in her life, it frequently and permanently changes her body to a less desirable shape.

Typically, the result can be stretch marks, a protuberant tummy and fat accumulation in unwanted areas. Breast volume usually diminishes with sagging, and often stretch marks appear on the breast and abdomen.

Because of the multiple variations of body changes seen after pregnancies, mommy makeovers must be individualized to address each person’s problem.

Regarding the abdomen, treatment may be simple liposuction or a full tummy tuck with tightening of the rectus (the six-pack) muscles, creating an internal corset, a smaller waist and flatter abdomen.

Procedure variations may be used, such as liposuction with a mini-tummy tuck and liposuction of the hip rolls (“muffin tops”), sides, waist, and even back.

Often there is weight gain during pregnancy, and liposuction of the inner and outer thighs and even knees may be indicated. My preference for a liposuction is the “tickle liposuction” because of shorter operating room and recovery time.

With the full abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), drains are rarely used because of use of progressive tension sutures internally, which sutures the skin and subcutaneous tissues back to the underlying muscle layers, eliminating what is call the “dead space.”

This technique eliminates the need for annoying drains commonly used for seven to 10 days after surgery. Recovery time is faster and with much less discomfort.

For the breast, sometimes an uplift (mastopexy) is needed, and if there has been significant volume loss, breast implants or fat transfer (grafts) may be used.

An occasional problem with uplifts in many cases is the continued loss of volume above the nipple area, which mastopexies tend not to correct completely. Fat transfer for this problem is particularly practical when combined with liposuction of other areas, as the fat harvested from the liposuctioned areas can be used.

This is not an issue when breast implants are used with the mastopexy. The fat harvested can also be used to augment the buttocks, if desired.

The combination of both breast and abdomen restoration is very gratifying to the patient, her family and the plastic surgeon. This is the reason the “mommy makeover” has become so popular and is among the most common of procedures performed by plastic surgeons.

E. Ronald Finger, MD, FACS is a board certified plastic surgeon with offices in Savannah and Bluffton. www.fingerand associates.com