Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme
Is a Mommy Makeover Safe?
Any plastic surgery brings risks with it. If you are considering undergoing cosmetic surgery, It is important to weigh such risks against the benefits of the procedure before making a decision. When your plastic surgeon discusses the procedure with you, he/she will go over all the benefits and risk factors and advise you of potential alternative treatments. At this time you will typically be asked to sign a so-called informed consent document where you agree to what has been discussed.
Please read on for an overview of the risks associated with mommy makeover surgery.
What Are the Risks of a Mommy Makeover?
Adverse Reaction to Anesthesia
If you are having a surgical mommy makeover (meaning it includes a tummy tuck and/or breast surgery), you will receive local anesthesia combined with IV sedation to start out your procedure. General anesthesia is not required for a mommy makeover, although some surgeons working in a hospital setting may prefer it.
A higher level of sedation typically comes with a higher risk. In addition, general anesthesia requires that the patient is intubated, which carries its own risks.
Even though all anesthesia carries a certain risk, the percentage of complications from IV sedation during a mommy makeover is low.
Risks Associated With Smoking
Surgical risks for smokers or tobacco users are not specific to mommy makeovers but rather apply to all surgeries. Smokers (even second hand smokers), people who chew tobacco or apply nicotine patches or consume nicotine as gum or nasal spray are at increased risk of surgical complications. These can come in the form of skin necrosis, slower healing, or increased scarring.
The risks associated with anesthesia including a delayed recovery are also elevated for smokers.
The easiest way to avoid these additional risks is to not smoke. If you have smoked in the past, you will still be better off for having stopped, the longer ago the better. Smoking – present or past – will also have to be disclosed by you in the medical consent document you will be asked to sign prior to surgery.
Infection and Delayed Healing
There are several more risks associated with any kind of surgery that are not specific to mommy makeovers.
This includes infection or poor wound healing, the accumulation of fluid, cardiac or pulmonary complications, and deep vein thrombosis. Surgery can also inadvertently damage deeper structures including nerves, muscles, blood vessels, lungs and other organs.
While any of these risks may occur during your surgery and will also be disclosed in your consent document, they are not very common for mommy makeover patients.
Most surgeries cause some bruising and swelling in the affected area(s), and you can definitely expect it after your mommy makeover procedure(s). You may develop bruises and/or experience swelling in your abdominal area or your breasts, depending on the components of your mommy makeover. It typically takes several weeks to subside, but could persist longer in some patients. Make sure you follow all of your plastic surgeon’s post-op instructions to ensure a smooth recovery. Keeping well hydrated helps to reduce swelling faster.
A hematoma is a form of extreme bruising that can happen as a result of mommy makeover or other surgery. Hematoma are caused by the pooling of blood. This can occur up to several days after your procedure. Some surgeons install a drain to absorb blood and fluids which helps minimize the risk of developing a hematoma.
If you have any concerns about a developing hematoma, call your plastic surgeon’s after hours number to make sure this is not an indication of internal bleeding or other problem.
Do Mommy Makeovers Have Any Side Effects?
While the risks stated above are relatively rare, there are also a few more common mommy makeover side effects:
- Change in skin sensation
- Change in nipple sensation
- Post-op bleeding
- Bruising and swelling
- Dull aches and pains
Tummy tucks as well as liposuction with or without skin tightening can cause a loss of skin sensation on your abdomen, and any type of breast surgery can affect nipple and breast sensation. Most often these are temporary symptoms that will resolve on their own, but if a loss of sensation persists long after you’ve had a mommy makeover, you should alert your surgeon.
You might also experience excessive itching or an increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures after mommy makeover surgery.
Post-op bleeding is relatively normal and can be expected for several days after surgery. The same is true for dull aches and pains, especially during the first week of recovery. If you experience unusually heavy bleeding, drainage, or pain, contact your surgeon.
Other Mommy Makeover Concerns
What Will My Belly Button Look Like?
Tummy tucks can leave your belly button distorted or in the wrong position. This is something a surgeon will anticipate and incorporate into your mommy makeover. If you want to return your body to its pre-pregnancy shape, designing an aesthetically pleasing navel area is very important. Make sure you address this issue when discussing your goals with your doctor prior to surgery.
Does a Mommy Makeover Leave a Scar?
Both tummy tucks and breast surgeries leave scars. Tummy tuck scars are hard to disguise, particularly those of a standard or extended tummy tuck. However, they are typically applied horizontally below the bikini line so that they are hidden underneath your swimwear. Breast surgeries are much easier to hide in the natural folds of the breast. All scars will fade over time and become less noticeable. Each patient’s skin is different and heals at a different pace, but following your surgeon’s post-op instructions will improve wound healing and ensure the least possible amount of scarring.
Will I Be Able to Breastfeed After a Mommy Makeover?
Any kind of breast surgery may have an effect on future breastfeeding, whether it is a breast augmentation with implants, a breast lift, or a breast reduction. For this reason, many women wait with their mommy makeover until they are done having children. However, studies have not been conclusive whether there is a negative correlation between breast surgery and a decrease in the ability to breastfeed. Many women struggle with breastfeeding, with or without prior surgery. If you are planning to become pregnant and breast feed after your mommy makeover, make sure you discuss this with your plastic surgeon.
Minimizing Mommy Makeover Risk
Prior to Your Surgery
It’s good to remember that all the components of typical mommy makeover surgery are relative routine operations. Breast augmentations with implants, liposuction, and tummy tucks are all among the top five most common cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States, and they have also been around in their existing form for decades. The more common a procedure, the more routine it is to perform.
To further minimize your risk, you should make sure you have an extensive prior consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon, who will:
- Review your medical history: Be prepared to answer any questions about your current or past medical history, such as a history of breast cancer in your family, medications you are currently on, whether you are a smoker or not, and prior surgeries you may have undergone.
- Conduct a physical exam: Your surgeon will likely perform a physical exam of your breasts and abdomen to help find the best treatment options for your mommy makeover. He/she will look at skin tone and elasticity, nipple and areola position, and any existing asymmetries.
- Ask about your expectations: Why do you want a mommy makeover? What outcome are you hoping for in terms of your appearance? Are you mainly interested in getting your pre-pregnancy body back, or do you want a breast size you never had previously?
This in-depth consultation and exam will help your plastic surgeon determine a course of action that produces the desired outcomes at the lowest possible risk.
After Your Surgery
The most important way you can minimize any negative side effects after mommy makeover surgery is to closely follow the post-op instructions given by your plastic surgeon. They will outline how long to wear any surgical garments such as a surgical bra or a binder for your abdomen. They will also give instructions for when you’re allowed to take your first post-op shower, and how soon you can resume light – and eventually strenuous – exercise.
Make sure you are up to date on all your post-op appointments so that you’ll be informed as to what to expect when. You will typically see immediate results for both your abdomen and breasts, but best results typically emerge 4-6 weeks after surgery once all swelling and bruising has subsided.
Check out our Mommy Makeover Before & After Gallery for some examples. You will see the different degrees of fading of the scars, placement and shape of the belly button, and different versions of breast surgery.
We hope we have helped you gain a better understanding of tummy tuck safety and risks. Please contact us if you have any additional questions.