When it comes to cosmetic surgery procedures, the abdomen is the area I get asked the most questions about. I specialize in helping women get the right combination of procedures to get their bodies in the contour and shape that they want. Mommy Makeovers are my specialty!!
With that being said, let me add this disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I will not be performing your procedure. I am a filmmaker, writer and patient advocate for several doctors and practices in the Atlanta area.
Through my writing, filming, research and my own personal experiences, I have become knowledgable in many of the procedures available for women to feel better, look better and guide them in accomplishing those goals. I advise, hold hands and partner people up with the right procedures and the right doctors. I answer a lot of questions and bust a lot of myths about cosmetic surgery from the consumer aspect of what will and will not work. As one surgeon I worked with used to say, “It’s a scalpel not a wand” you have to be realistic about your expectations when asking a doctor to change something about your appearance. If you are 5’2 and weigh 180 pounds, you are never going to have a surgery that makes you look like Heidi Klum!
One area that many women are worried about, especially after pregnancy, is the abdomen. Lets face it, pregnancy and childbirth, while miraculous, can do a number on your body. And every woman is different. Weight gain and genetics play a big factor in how we snap back after 9 months of stretching, shifting and pushing! Some women can gain 80 pounds and look like they are carrying triplets and snap right back into shape like they are made out of rubber. Some can gain 25 pounds and barely show a bump but look like they are carrying a burlap sack of excess skin around their waist after. It’s all on how we are made up genetically. That also goes for those that have never had children too. You could work out 8 hours a day, have a diet that consists of a deep breath and a cube of cheese and you would still have a muffin top. It’s how God (or whatever divine power you believe in) made you! This is where having a cosmetic procedure can help!
I am not so much an advocate of cosmetic surgery as I am for women to feel good about themselves. If something about your appearance bothers you it can take up a lot of space in your brain. When you look at yourself in the mirror, when you buy clothes, when you sit, they way you hold your posture, etc.. I believe that if you can alleviate that concern then you can open up that space to worry about so many other things!!
So, lets talk about the abdomen and what procedure is right for you! When someone comes to me about the abdomen, the first question I ask women is this: Do you want to look better in your clothes, or do you want to look good naked??…….. (the periods represent the pause and stare that often accompanies that question). Haha
Here is why I ask women that. There are two really effective procedures for the abdomen: Liposuction and Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). Lets examine what each does.
Liposuction/SmartLipo: Liposuction is used to contour the body. It uses a tumescent fluid to help numb and liquify stubborn pockets of fat and permanently extracts the fat cells. The only difference in regular liposuction and Smartlipo is that SmartLipo is done under local (you are awake) and there is an added component of a laser that promises to give a little skin tightening and reduction of drainage and bruising. Either method is just effective as the other, it’s all about preference.
What Liposuction does well: Reduces your shape by inches, contours your body in a slimmer line, has very little down time, and the incision sites are minimal. —- That is about the length of the incision sites where the fat is extracted.
What liposuction won’t do: If you have lost elasticity in the skin, prone to stretch marks, or have excess fat, liposuction will not be able to help those things. While it will remove the fat, and give you a slimmer appearance, if you had a burlap sack hanging before, it will still be hanging after. Sometimes, if the skin is too excessive, removing the fat underneath without removing the skin can make the sagging a little worse. So, this is where I explain that if your objective is to look good in your clothes with a slimmer appearance then Liposuction is a good choice for you! Keep in mind too, Liposuction is always a good choice for those with good elasticity in their skin and small pockets of fat. Those body types will look good in clothes and naked with liposuction
An educational video of the SmartLipo procedure
Now, lets move on to looking good naked!
What an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) will do: An abdominoplasty will do all the things liposuction does and removes the excess skin and tightens the abdominal muscles as well. Some of the issues that make a women’s belly appear to be distended after having children have nothing to do with fat or skin, but the muscle underneath!!
When we are pregnant the abdominal muscles must stretch to accommodate for the growing baby. Sometimes that wall of muscle just can’t seem to retract back to it’s original shape. You could do crunches until the cows come home and it’s not going to make a bit of difference. Part of an abdominoplasty surgery is to tighten that wall back up. The surgeon pulls the muscles back into place and flattens them out. This removes the bulge and then the excess skin is removed. A lot of women go into surgery with stretch marks and come out with none! This is also a good time to have any lower abdomen tattoos removed you may regret having done… haha
The belly button! I am always asked about getting a new belly button. It’s not often we think about our belly buttons, but it is a very common concern with tummy tuck patients. Your life line to your mother will not change Your belly button is actually on a “stalk” that will remain in the same place it has always been. What the surgeon does is make a new opening and reshape it around your new appearance. I think they do a pretty exceptional job of making them look cute! Belly buttons can take a beating through pregnancy, it too will get a fresh new look
What to expect with abdominoplasty: You will have a scar. Most scars go from hip bone to hip bone, but are very low and under the bikini line. They also fade very nicely with time. The doctors I work with take special care to make sure the scarring is thin and minimal. Abdominoplasty has a longer down time but well worth the transformation once you are up and around. Usually I tell patients to expect to need help and be on the down low for about a week. This is of course like everything else, some women are up and around the next day and some take a couple of weeks. Depends on you and your body. You are a healthy body choosing to have a procedure, so your recovery isn’t the same as if you were having a surgery for something that ails you. You snap back pretty darn quick! Once all is healed and you are feeling up to it, you will be ready for that bikini at the beach or feel good about getting naked! Just make sure that it’s a nude beach before you shuck off that bikini, I don’t want to see any of you getting arrested! Feeling great naked isn’t an excuse in court for indecent exposure