Tuesday, September 21, 2010

expert advice: from Dr. Elizabeth Lee, plastic surgeon

Whether you've had one, two, three kids--or more!--chances are your body looks and feels different than it did before you ever gave birth. And all the diet and exercise in the world (IF you could muster up the time and energy to do it!) doesn't always bring things back to normal. Luckily, there are cosmetic surgery procedures on the market for those of us who need some reshaping--like the Mommy Makeover (average cost: $12,390), a post-pregnancy procedure designed to counter sagging skin.

Hesitant about going under the knife? I know I am! Before you book your appointment, check out http://www.realself.com/was-it-worth-it, a community where members share their unbiased opinion and stories about cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery. Each person rates their treatment (worth it/not worth it) and offers his/her comments. The Mommy makeover shows a staggering Worth It Index of 95, post-pregnancy procedures to counter sagging skin.

Here, Dr. Elizabeth Lee, a Bay Area plastic surgeon and member of RealSelf’s doctor community, talks about her Mommy Makeover procedure. Are you willing to give it a try?

Kidandcaboodle: What is a mommy makeover?
Elizabeth Lee: "A mommy makeover generelly involves surgery to both the breasts and abdomen, the two areas most affected by pregnancy and nursing."

K&C: Why is it so appealing to moms?
EL: "Some of us stretch out and lose our shapes in such a way that we can never get back to a comfortable body contour with just diet and exercise."

K&C: What are the pros and cons of the procedure?
EL: "Breast surgery can restore breast shape and size. Tummy tuck can help tighten the "core" muscles that may become permanently separated during pregnancy. In addition to contouring the body, repairing these separated muscles may improve posture and core body strength. Taking out excess stretched skin on the lower abdomen makes women much more comfortable both physically and emotionally. Of course, surgery has risks and it is important to be healthy and to plan properly for your recovery."

K&C: How long do the results last?
EL: "Results are permanent, but the aging process goes on and gravity continues to work against us. Barring more pregnancies or large weight gain, breasts and tummy will never be as loose and droopy as they were before the mommy makeover."

K&C: How long is the recovery time? Do you have any advice on how to recover when you have a baby or other kids at home?
EL: "Recovery is a gradual process. The majority of swelling and tenderness resolves in the first two weeks. However, the healing process continues for up to a year. For six weeks after surgery you will be much more tired than usual and need more sleep. This fatigue usually improves by week seven. You will need full-time help with young children for two weeks after surgery. The best way to ensure an easy recovery is to plan for adequate help."

K&C: How can this procedure help a mom's self-esteem?
EL: "Becoming a parent changes a woman's life in many ways. Handling young children can be exhausting. Our relationships to our jobs, our spouses, our friends all change. Having a body that no longer resembles our internal image of ourselves can be uncomfortable. Healthy eating and exercise cannot tighten up what is stretched out and sagging. We feel more powerful and competent when our bodies are intact. A mommy makeover can help a woman feel whole again."

K&C: Is there a memorable patient's reaction or story about someone who underwent the procedure that you could share?
EL: "Most of my patients feel much better about themselves, exercise more comfortably and feel that they have more energy for their lives when they don't feel miserable every time they look in the mirror or have to get dressed."