While it’s perfectly natural and normal to look different after giving birth, many women are opting for mummy makeovers to ensure they gain and retain “yummy mummy” status. Costhetics interviewed experienced Sydney surgeon Dr Robert Drielsma who specialises in the mummy makeover, a complex fusion of three or more procedures in one.

Mummy makeovers—a combination of surgical procedures that typically include a tummy tuck, breast enhancement and sometimes liposuction—are extremely popular in Australia and around the world. Why are they so popular and who is a typical candidate for a mummy makeover? Are combining multiple procedures into one operation safe? Does it increase risks? What are the risks and potential complications involved in mummy makeovers? How long does it take to recover from a mummy makeover? We asked these questions and more of Dr Robert Drielsma, a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who performs these and other body contouring procedures.

Why are mummy makeovers so popular?

Dr Drielsma: Mummy makeovers are popular because they help women regain their figure and body image and feel better about themselves in the process. Many women who have had children and neglected their bodies come to realise at some point that they need to regain their pre-baby bodies, if for nothing else, personal satisfaction. Not being able to do that can often undermine self-confidence. Even those who actually found the time to exercise diligently after having kids are finding that there are certain areas of the body that they cannot re-sculpt on their own. Some fat deposits are simply impossible to get rid of regardless of how much you work out. Pregnancy can also leave excess skin and fat in the abdominal area. Usually women who have had children have more than one area they want to see changed. Mummy makeovers help them get rid of a number of these trouble spots in just one procedure.

At what age are women having mummy makeovers?

Dr Drielsma: Mummy makeovers are mostly in demand by women between the ages 35 and 45.

What exactly is involved?

Dr Drielsma: Breast lift, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and a thigh lift… the list goes on.

A mummy makeover is a procedure that combines a number of procedures into a single operation. If there is excess fat that needs removal, like love handles and back fat, liposuction can also be incorporated into the procedure.

Most mummy makeovers combine a breast lift (mastopexy) or breast augmentation (augmentation mammoplasty) with a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty).

If there are other parts of your body that you’re unhappy about, your surgeon can add other procedures.

Can all of these procedures—tummy tuck, breast lift/augmentation and liposuction—really be completed in the one operation?

Dr Drielsma: Yes. There was a time in the past when surgeons were advised to perform one operation at a time. This was because of limitations of anaesthesia and the longer times needed to perform each individual procedure. Modern techniques have reduced operating times and new anaesthetic drugs make being under the effects of anaesthetic for a longer period safer than ever.

Over time it has been demonstrated that it is quite safe to combine procedures into one operation with as little as one to two night’s hospital stay.

What are the benefits of combining these procedures into one operation?

Dr Drielsma: There are a number of benefits in combining multiple procedures.

First, from a patient’s point of view, it significantly reduces the recovery time when multiple procedures are completed together. Rather than taking a couple of weeks to recover from one procedure and another three weeks for another and a few days for a third, you can recover in one go from the multiple procedures in just two to three weeks.

This also means you get to enjoy your newly sculpted body all at once and within a few weeks, rather than doing so bit by bit over a matter of months. Who has time to be in hospital for a year!

Combining procedures can significantly cut total costs as well. Most patients find this to be an attractive proposition. If you can save a few thousand, why not? For instance, having a tummy tuck and liposuction on separate occasions will likely cost around $5,000 more than having them combined in the same procedure.

How long does a mummy makeover operation take to complete?

Dr Drielsma: That depends on the scope of procedures planned. A common mummy makeover is a tummy tuck combined with a breast lift. This typically takes between 6 and 7 hours of surgery time and involves a two-night hospital stay.

Is it safe to combine so many procedures? Does it increase the level of risk and possible complications?

Dr Drielsma: Combining a tummy tuck and breast surgery has been well researched. Findings show that there is no increase in risks or potential complications just because these procedures are combined.

That said, each procedure has its own level of risk. According to an American study which looked at national databases on surgical complication rates for procedures which took place between 2003 and 2007, both tummy tuck and breast augmentation have really low risk levels–both less than 1 percent. The entire data set included 10,660 abdominoplasties and 45,058 breast augmentation procedures that took place during the period. The results of the study were published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal in December 2009.

What are the risks and complications involved in a mummy makeover?

Dr Drielsma: Mummy makeovers are a combined set of cosmetic surgical procedures. And they are most often performed under general anaesthesia, which carries its own small but identifiable risk.

Hematoma (blood pooling), infections, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism were the key complications seen in both procedures. These risks are always there, regardless of how good the surgeon or the quality of aftercare. That said, there should be no undue fear when multiple operations are combined.

How long will I have to stay in hospital following a mummy makeover?

Dr Drielsma: Mummy makeovers are performed in a hospital and usually involve a three-day (two night) hospital stay.

How long does it take for complete recovery?

Dr Drielsma: Recovery periods vary from person to person, but to give you a rough idea:

You will wake up from your anaesthesia-induced sleep within two to three hours after surgery. You’ll have a few days in hospital so your surgeon can monitor how you’re healing.

You need to stay away from work, take it easy and not engage in much physical activity or exercise for two to three weeks. Longer is good, if it’s in any way possible. You shouldn’t lift anything heavier than two or three kilos. I do not recommend taking full care of very small active children or housework for two to three weeks.

After two weeks you can slowly increase your activity levels. If you must go to work after two weeks, see if part-time work can be arranged for a few days. You are going to feel very tired half way through the day. If you have a desk job, get up from time and walk around to get your circulation moving. You can resume exercise and other strenuous physical activity after six weeks or so. Always check with your surgeon first.

You will feel like yourself again in two to three months. By this time the swelling will have subsided and you’ll be able to enjoy your new figure.

It can take as long as two years for your surgical scars to fully mature, so you can consider this the time frame for complete recovery.

Do I need bed rest after returning home from hospital? For how long?

Dr Drielsma: Again, this depends on the scope of the procedures involved. All surgery requires rest for recovery. Usually two to three weeks off work is required and around six weeks refraining from strenuous exercise.

Does it hurt? How do I manage the pain after surgery?

Dr Drielsma: Mummy makeovers are like any other surgical procedures. There will be pain, bruising and swelling. You will be given medication to help manage the pain during your recovery period.

For two or three days you will need pain medication 24/7. After that time, your pain medication will be tapered off.

What must I do to ensure full and speedy recovery?

Dr Drielsma: This is what every surgeon will tell you. Follow your post-operative instructions to the word.

Will the scars be visible? Where will they be?

Dr Drielsma: All surgery involves some level of scarring, but the scar placement will be planned by your surgeon to be minimal. All scars soften and fade over time, and the final result is usually a minimally visible scar that women feel is completely acceptable.

Can I have babies and breast feed after a mummy makeover?

Dr Drielsma: Yes, you can have more children after a mummy makeover. Generally, it is recommended that you have your family before proceeding with a mummy makeover, as pregnancy may cause further stretching and excess skin on the tummy and breasts. Breast-feeding may also be adversely effected by breast lift surgery.

What happens if I gain weight after the mummy makeover?

Dr Drielsma: If you gain weight after body contouring surgery, you will obviously become bigger and potentially stretch your skin. If you want to keep your regained shape, it is advisable to control and maintain your weight with a sensible diet and regular exercise.

What does a mummy makeover cost in Australia?

Dr Drielsma: This really depends on which procedures you elect to have. Relevant costs will be outlined once an appropriate surgical plan is determined at the time of consultation.

What is your advice to a woman considering a mummy makeover?

Dr Drielsma: Define your concerns and your goals first up. Consult a properly qualified plastic surgeon to discuss these issues and determine what scope of surgery is appropriate for you. Remember, this type of surgery is for you, not anyone else. In my practice, patients undergoing mummy makeovers are a very satisfied group.

For more in depth information about the mummy makeover procedure: check out our procedure article here, which includes everything you need to know including risks, costs, procedure info and preparing for your surgery.

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