Motherhood may be a source of joy and fulfillment for many women, but the pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding that come along with it can be downright unkind to their once shapely bodies.
That’s why some women treat themselves and their physiques to a “mommy makeover,” which depending on the individual mother can mean a tummy tuck, liposuction, breast augmentation or other procedure aimed at restoring an uncooperative figure to pre-motherhood form.
“No two women will have the same desires or concerns,” says Dr. Michael Burgdorf, founder of Music City Plastic Surgery and author of The Mommy Makeover: Restoring Your Body After Childbirth (www.drmichaelburgdorf.com).
“It’s a very personal and individual decision. I like to help my patients dream a little about what they would like their results to be.”
But before it ever reaches that point, anyone seeking a mommy makeover needs to find a plastic surgeon right for the job – and right for them.
“Certainly, you want someone who knows what they’re doing, but you also need to feel comfortable with that person because there’s a lot of trust involved,” Burgdorf says.
He suggests any woman in search of someone to perform her mommy makeover should:
• Find out if the surgeon is board certified. People often confuse cosmetic surgeons with plastic surgeons, but the two aren’t interchangeable. All plastic surgeons are cosmetic surgeons, but the reverse isn’t always true, Burgdorf says. Board-certified plastic surgeons must meet numerous criteria, including five years of residency training in all areas of surgery with at least two of those years in plastic surgery. Cosmetic surgeons can have any specialty, such as OB/GYN or emergency medicine, and may have just taken a short course in cosmetic surgery. “You wouldn’t want me delivering your baby, and you wouldn’t want an OB/GYN doing your tummy tuck,” Burgdorf says.
• Research the surgeon’s experience. It’s best to find a plastic surgeon who has dealt with issues at least as complex as yours – and preferably more complex. Burgdorf suggests browsing websites in search of a doctor whose style makes you feel the most comfortable. You might be able to get an idea of how the doctor speaks to patients by reading what’s on their website. Also, look at before-and-after pictures of the surgeon’s work to see if there are patients with similar characteristics as you.
• Seek references. You can read online patient reviews, but it’s even better if you’re able to speak with former patients, Burgdorf says. If the surgeon is hesitant to allow this, you might want to look for another doctor.
• Schedule an initial consultation. This is the opportunity to get to know the plastic surgeon face to face and develop a feel for how he or she works. Ask about anything you want, including the surgeon’s experience, education and the cost. If you’re not feeling a good connection, you might want to interview other doctors. “Patients often talk with several doctors before making a decision,” Burgdorf says.
Choosing the right surgeon is one of the most important decisions in the mommy-makeover process, Burgdorf says.
“It can seem confusing at first,” he says, “but if you take your time and become an informed patient, you should be able to make the right choice.”