Do You want a Mommy Makeover?
November, 2011 - Issue #85
My mom's a wise woman. A mother to four, she knows the ins and outs of pregnancy, nursing and childrearing.

Which is why I worried, just a little, when she uttered this: "You are never going to look the same after you have this baby. You know that, right?"

Of course I did - in theory. When I was six months pregnant with my first child I even gave away all my size-four clothing to show how much "I got it." I remember my sister in law saying, "I'm happy to take this, but are you sure you want to give all these away? You may fit into them again." I laughed. "Certainly I'll never wear a size four again," I thought. "I'll just have to get used to being a six!"

After the baby was born, I barely squeezed myself into size-12 jeans. I didn't laugh, but then again, I didn't cry. I had a gorgeous new baby to treasure and take care of; he didn't care about the size of my butt and neither did I.

Until after Baby Number Two, that is. Consecutive pregnancy and nursing left me at nearly 200 pounds after Olive was born (I was 135 just three years prior.). She wasn't an easy infant. Exercise and diet changes were at the bottom of a very long to-do list. I didn't start losing weight until I weaned her after 15 months of nursing.

That's when the tears came. My extra weight had served, strangely enough, as a means of protecting me from cold, hard, flabby reality. Stretch marks? Please. I wish. My tummy was a wrinkled collection of skin that had lost more than elasticity; it seemed to have lost all hope, too. Even my once-cute belly button, formerly adorable enough to deserve a piercing, was in a tragic state of deformity (If you ever want to dissuade your daughters from piercing their stomachs, e-mail me. I'll send you back a photo that will strike fear in their hearts.).

But it was nothing two pairs of layered Spanx couldn't cure, so I convinced myself to (temporarily) accept my terrible-looking tummy. (My partner, Eric, certainly didn't mind it. "It makes you look more... womanly, like - mature," he said. I still hate him a little for that comment.)

No undergarment would fix the situation up top, though. My previously full decollete had deflated so badly that even Victoria's Secret's best push-up bra could do nothing for what my sisters eventually referred to as "pancake-breast-a-citis."

Now that I have lost the weight, I've been considering what has come to be referred to as a Mommy Makeover. This is much more drastic than a day at the spa, though. Consisting of a variety of plastic-surgery procedures ranging from tummy tucks, liposuction and breast lifts/augmentation to vaginal rejuvenation, these makeovers are much more than a change of hair color. It's a big deal, and, as a feminist, one that I've thought a lot about. In the end, though, I have realized that, if I do get a tummy tuck (it's at the top of my wish list), it really is for me. I don't love myself any less because my stomach looks like a warzone, but I miss the confidence and - let's not lie! - feeling of youth that came standard with my previously-taut tummy. Right now, the mirror doesn't reflect how I feel on the inside. This isn't about being caught up in a cult of youth. I don't care if I never shop in the Juniors section again. I just want to look like "me" to me!

So I called Dr. Andrew Cohen, MD, FACS. He's the chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and has a stellar reputation as a surgeon at Beverly Hills Physicians. Here's a snip of my conversation with this board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

Q: When is the best time to schedule a Mommy Makeover?
A: The best time to schedule your mommy makeover is when your weight has been stable. I always suggest to my patients to lose as much weight as possible prior to any body-contouring procedures. After childbirth most patients will wait six to 12 months, depending on their weight.

Q: What are the most popular Mommy Makeover procedures?
A: The most common are tummy tucks and breast surgery. That is traditionally what we call a Mommy Makeover. Some women will need a breast lift and some will not; it all depends on the anatomy.

Q: In your experience, what do your "mommy" clients say after the procedures?
A: My patients love their results. They feel younger and thinner. They feel their breasts are better than they have ever been and they feel rejuvenated. All my patients have a new lease on life. They feel they can keep up with their children!

Q: What special personal perspective do you bring to a Mommy Makeover?
A: I see women every day who tell me they are struggling with a poor body image after childbirth. I understand their desire to return to their pre-baby body and I am happy to help them achieve that goal. I strive to help women feel better both physically and emotionally.

Q: What special aesthetics do you take under consideration when doing a makeover like this?
A: Determining the ideal size and shape of the breasts, and making sure the tummy-tuck scar is hidden below the bikini line.

Q: Can you tell me a little about your expertise and experience?
A: I am the chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and I am board certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Over the past 12 years I have performed thousands of cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. I treat all my patients with a personal touch. All of our patients are made to feel special and are given the utmost care in their healing process. I use an accredited operating room for all of our procedures and use only the best staff.
Dr. Cohen is a surgeon with Beverly Hills Physicians, which has offices in Valencia, Encino, Lancaster and Thousand Oaks;

Mommy Makeovers - No Surgery Required
All you need to do is turn on the news to learn how essential pre- and post-partum dental care is to both the health of your baby (prevention of early-term labor, for example) and yourself (pregnancy and nursing can rob your teeth of vital minerals, leaving them more susceptible to cavities and decay). But a gorgeous smile can do a lot for your mental health, too. Friends and family have reported great results with Valencia Dental Arts' new Max Whitening system. The custom deep teeth-bleaching technology can make your smile up to 16 shades lighter, and results are easy to maintain and permanent. Able to whiten even tetracycline-stained teeth, the system has super-low to no sensitivity. Combine Max Whitening with Six-month Powerprox braces, which move your front teeth to their most beautiful position in about six months (sometimes less!). The price starts at only $3,500, which is one more reason for every mommy to smile.
Available at Valencia Dental Arts; 877-930-9090

We've heard a lot about the Belly Bandit, a post-partum compression wrap that mommies around the world claim to have helped them regain a pre-pregnancy figure. According to the maker, "Belly Bandit's post-partum compression garments are specially engineered with innovative technical details and medical-grade, latex-free fabrics to do what no surgery, core class or crash diet can - naturally, safely, comfortably and conveniently." The collection is designed to help flatten the uterus and lose inches while offering support and comfort. They are discreet under clothing and, more importantly, come highly recommended by many physicians, nurses, doulas, fitness experts and - tellingly - new moms.
Available at Mother & Baby Boobtique Lactation Center; 259-8802
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