What to Know About Mommy Makeovers, According to a Plastic Surgeon

From buccal-fat-pad-excision procedures to liquid nose jobs, conversations around plastic surgery have become more open and honest on TikTok. One procedure that has recently seen a surge in interest — but is less talked about — is the "mommy makeover."

The phrase "mommy makeover surgery" has seen a 529 percent increase in search in the United States over the past five years, according to research conducted by the medical supply retailer Face Med Store, and the hashtag on TikTok has a whopping 1.1 billion views and counting. The surgery has been commonplace in Hollywood for years, with celebrities like actor Patricia Heaton and reality TV star Nene Leakes sharing their experiences. Still, very little is widely known about it. So, what exactly is a mommy makeover?

"A mommy makeover is a combination of procedures that address the changes a woman's body undergoes after pregnancy and breastfeeding," plastic surgeon Smita Ramanadham, MD, tells POPSUGAR. "It typically involves a combination of breast and abdominal procedures to improve the overall contour of these areas."

To help answer your most pressing questions about mommy-makeover procedures, we asked Dr. Ramanadham to break down everything you need to know, including the cost, downtime, how to find the right doctor, and more.

What Is a Mommy Makeover?

Mommy makeovers are individualized to each person, so they're technically not one single, universal surgery. "The procedures included in a mommy makeover vary based on the goals and examination of the patient," Dr. Ramanadham says.

While the exact combination of surgeries differs, most mommy makeovers address the appearance of the breasts and abdomen. Common procedures for the breasts include a breast lift, a breast reduction, a breast lift with implants, and implants alone (also known as breast augmentation). Abdominal procedures can include liposuction of the abdomen and/or back, liposuction with an abdominoplasty (or a tummy tuck), abdominoplasty alone, and a mini abdominoplasty. These surgeries help address any excess skin or sagging that occurs after childbirth.

How Much Does a Mommy Makeover Cost?

Because mommy makeovers are an elective surgery and not considered medically necessary, they are not covered by insurance. Since they are also a combination of surgeries, the cost of the entire procedure varies depending on what you get, as well as where you are located and other factors.

"Cost for mommy makeovers vary based on the specific combination of surgeries needed by each individual, by practice, and by geographical area," Dr. Ramanadham says. "However, the price can range anywhere from $10,000 to over $20,000."

What to Expect During a Mommy Makeover

Regardless of the combination of surgeries decided on, "Mommy makeovers are considered an invasive surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia," Dr. Ramanadham says. "They can include an overnight stay in the hospital, depending on which combination of procedures is performed. They also typically involve a substantial scar burden, as oftentimes, there is a tradeoff between well-placed scars and shape and contour with these procedures."

The procedure typically takes anywhere from three to six hours to perform, so you can expect to carve a significant amount of time out of your schedule to adequately prepare for both pre- and postoperation requirements.

Before the surgery, a few appointments will need to take place, and some instructions should be followed. "Once a patient has chosen a doctor, expect to see your primary-care doctor for medical-clearance letters, as well as any presurgery testing, such as blood work and COVID tests. The day before the surgery, a ride from the hospital should be coordinated," Dr. Ramanadham says.

What Is the Downtime For a Mommy Makeover?

Woman measuring her waist with a measuring tape in a beauty salon
Getty | bluecinema

One aspect of a mommy makeover that needs to be considered is the healing time after the procedure, which can take around one to two months.

"It is important to plan for these procedures, as they do involve a significant downtime," Dr. Ramanadham says. "In general, overall activity restrictions may last for upward of six weeks. As you heal, you will need to minimize any strenuous activity or heavy lifting. This allows full healing of the scars prior to return to normal activity."

Recovery can also include additional aftercare costs. "Recovery will be discussed in detail with your surgeon but can involve surgical bras, abdominal binders, or other compression garments, and can include drains," Dr. Ramanadham says.

This, again, depends on the combination of surgeries that will be received. In general, however, it is important to consider making arrangements for child care and work and to have someone available to help at home — especially immediately after the procedure.

Are Mommy Makeovers Permanent?

The results of mommy makeovers are permanent, so it's important to be sure about your decision before getting one. "The procedures can be revised but not reversed," Dr. Ramanadham says. "For example, scars cannot be removed, but breast implants can. If a patient undergoes a breast reduction but then feels they are too small, breast implants can be placed or fat transfer performed. Abdominal procedures cannot be reversed, but if there are contour irregularities or specific concerns regarding the results, these can be addressed with your surgeon and revised if amenable to that."

However, while the results are permanent, they can also change. "The results of mommy makeovers will change with aging, weight gain or loss, or with the effects of gravity," Dr. Ramanadham says. It's important to speak with your doctor to understand how your results may change as you get older, as well as what options you have should you be unhappy with any aspect of your results.

Potential Risks of Mommy Makeovers

In addition to possible scarring, there are a few risks that can come with mommy makeovers. According to plasticsurgery.org, possible risks of mommy-makeover surgery include but are not limited to, bleeding, infection, poor healing of incisions, loss of nipple sensation, inability to breastfeed, and implant leak.

While going to a board-certified doctor can mitigate these risks, you and your doctor should have a plan in place for what to do if any of these complications occur.

How to Find the Right Doctor

For your peace of mind, it is best to go to a doctor who is highly trained and certified in doing the procedures you will get for your mommy makeover. "The only doctors qualified to perform these procedures safely are plastic surgeons that are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery," Dr. Ramanadham says. "This is the only board that is valid. A cosmetic surgeon or other cosmetic-surgery boards do not maintain the same quality and safety standards, training, or education, and those without this certification are not qualified doctors for mommy makeovers."

If you need a place to start your research, go to official plastic-surgery websites like plasticsurgery.org, which is the official website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. You could also go to surgery.org, which is the official website of the Aesthetic Society. "The members of these societies are board-certified plastic surgeons and information contained on these websites is straight from us," Dr. Ramanadham says.

Should you consider a mommy makeover, it is important to understand the risks that can come with the surgery. Make sure to do your research beforehand on the procedure and the best surgeon for you. Always note that a doctor should never make you feel uncomfortable or rushed during your decision-making process, and that it's OK if you have to speak with a few different people before making your decision.