After Birth: Beauty Strategies For New Moms

Health New Digest

by Health New Digest | August 9, 2010 @ 12:00PM

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When my daughter was born almost nine years ago, my life and body changed in ways I never dreamed possible. Not all of us bounce back like Cindy Crawford. After your second or third, you may be ready for a little cosmetic intervention. Most surgeons will prefer that you have stopped breastfeeding and lost most of your pregnancy weight before any surgery, at least six months. Your body needs this period to adjust, and you also have to settle into a new lifestyle and schedule before you subject your body to any more trauma. You need to get stabilized. The physiological changes that occur during pregnancy are mostly due to hormone levels; skin tags on the neck and chest, darkened moles, scars and freckles, melasma (increased pigmentation over the upper lip, cheeks and forehead), varicose veins and spiders on the legs, face and neck, bleeding gums, itching on the abdomen, skin eruptions or rashes, increased hair growth on the upper thighs and underarms. Fortunately, many of these conditions resolve on their own without treatment after the baby. Of course, some do not. Dermatologist Anita Cela, M.D. recommends a full body check after pregnancy. Fillers and BOTOX are not allowed during pregnancy or breastfeeding, but can be done shortly after giving birth, if you've got the time or inclination. If you are so preoccupied with wrinkles right after bringing a new life into the world, consider taking a moment to re-assess your values.

For women in the child-bearing years, deciding to do things pre- or post-pregnancies is a major consideration. Some procedures, like tummy tucks and breast lifts, may be wiser to put off until you are finished having your kids. Undergoing skin removal and tightening that leave significant scars, and then having another pregnancy that stretches the skin once again, seems to not be a good use of your time or money. The other consideration is being away from your baby and not being able to care for him/her during the recovery period. If you have a toddler at home already, having another child will increase the difficulty of scheduling cosmetic surgery exponentially. This is one time you will need to call on grandparents or make sure your nanny will be around to help you out. Smaller surgeries, like liposuction and breast implants, have only small scars and the recovery is short. If you are contemplating breast re-shaping (reduction, lift, or augmentation) and haven't decided whether you want more children, breastfeeding must be discussed in advance. These are very personal decisions and require some guidance. If you are 30ish and not in a relationship that is on track for marriage and babies, there is no dire need to postpone liposuction or breast implants. However, if you are in your later thirties on, recently married, and thinking about starting a family soon, you may feel differently. It's all a matter of setting priorities at that particular stage of your life. Nature has a hand in determining the timing of when you will become a mother. The flipside is that you can usually start trying to get pregnant directly after surgery as soon as the anesthetic and post-op medications are out of your system.

Most of us are primarily concerned with the stubborn fat deposits on thighs, hips, abdomen, and buttocks. Plastic surgeon (and mother of three) Susan Craig Scott, M.D. relates "I see a lot of women after one or two pregnancies who complain that no matter how hard they work at it, they can't get their shape back to where it was. Hormonal changes have a relaxing effect on the muscles and the tightness just doesn't come back. This becomes especially true for women who gain much more than the usual 25 pounds or so recommended during a pregnancy, and becomes even harder after multiple pregnancies. If you don't lose it during the first four to six months, it often doesn't come off at all." Liposuction can help you get rid of added girth after childbirth. "We use liposuction to recontour the areas resistant to diet and exercise," says Dr. Scott. "Every woman has a little extra fat on her thighs, buttocks, and hips she would like to get rid of." As the pelvic area expands, women tend to take on a more 'square' shape. "The contour of the lower abdomen, thighs, and hips changes", says Scott, who recommends that you wait until you are finished with childbearing for tummy tucks and thigh lifts, or one year from the last pregnancy and return to normal weight. Slack skin of the lower abdomen and around the navel, and loss of muscle tone will not respond simply to liposuction.

According to Dr. Scott, "There is no question that pregnancy and breast-feeding affect breast shape. Women who breastfeed complain that sucking maintains the enlarged shape of the breast and leave them droopier." As the body gets ready to nurture the baby, milk glands in the breast swell. After giving birth, the glands shrink down and in effect, there may be too much skin and too little left to fill it up. "The only way to really improve breast shape is with surgery that lifts and recontours the breasts and removes redundant skin. We can restore fullness, firmness, reduce areola size, and raise nipple position for a better shape. Implants are sometimes used at the same time if there isn't sufficient breast volume and the patient wants to be a larger size."

A common mistake women make is getting talked into having a bigger implant to fill up sagging breasts. You might do better having a breast lift with or without an implant, instead of an implant alone, especially a bigger implant than you might really want. The bigger the implant, the more problems you may have down the line, and more the skin will be stretched out in the process. Bigger implants ultimately produce more droopiness if the skin is loose to start with. The scars from a breastlift procedure are the trade-off.

Baby Dance

  • Breast lift with or without implants
  • Liposuction
  • Mini Abdominoplasty with liposuction
  • Abdominoplasty

Wendy Lewis is an independent cosmetic surgery consultant,

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