The abdomen is one of the most common areas of concern for people. With weight fluctuation, pregnancy, and aging, the abdominal wall can alter drastically in appearance. Plastic surgery can restore a more flattering torso with procedures like liposuction or a tummy tuck. Many Chicago area patients have difficulty deciding which procedure is the best choice for them. I tell them to consider the following:
A tummy tuck is best for people who have excess skin and fat around their midsection. It is especially beneficial for moms and weight loss patients because it restores abdominal muscles that were stretched by pregnancy or weight gain. In some cases, tummy tuck surgery can even remove stretch marks around the lower abdomen. People with weakened abdominal muscles and redundant skin who want a flatter, firmer torso are the best candidates for this procedure.
Liposuction is a body contouring procedure that removes fat bulges such as love handles. It is ideal for people who are already at a healthy weight and who require no additional muscle tightening. Liposuction will not remove excess skin as a tummy tuck will, and so patients must have good skin elasticity for best results.
Knowing What’s Right
Your surgeon should be able to explain each procedure in detail and help you make the right decision. By selecting a highly-trained, board-certified plastic surgeon for your procedure, you can take comfort in knowing that you are receiving reliable information from a trained professional.
I tell my patients considering breast augmentation in suburban Chicago that the procedure involves many choices. Three of the most important are:
1. Type of implant: If you are over the age of 22, you will have the option of silicone or saline breast implants for your breast augmentation. Both implant types are FDA-approved and have a long history of use in millions of women worldwide. There are advantages and tradeoffs for both, including:
- generally thought to look and feel more like natural breast tissue
- the latest silicone implants, including the Natrelle® 410, contain a cohesive gel that will not leak
- come in round or anatomical shapes
- can be placed through smaller incisions, allowing for inconspicuous scarring
- the solution can be absorbed by the body without negative side effects if the implant ruptures
2. Size of implant: Your implant size should be based on your body type and cosmetic goals. Generally, I take into account the ratio of breast tissue to fat, chest width, breast diameter, and overall body proportions. Combining this information with a patient’s expectations enables me to recommend an appropriate size that will satisfy her needs and flatter her body frame.
3. Implant placement. Implants can be placed above or below the pectoral muscle. Women who are very fit or who have very little breast tissue usually benefit from submuscular placement (under the muscle). This provides more soft tissue coverage and may reduce visible rippling around the implant edges. Women with a good amount of existing breast tissue may have implants placed over the muscle, which requires less recovery time.
Pregnancy and childbirth place a great deal of anatomic strain on a woman’s body. Muscles and skin experience significant stretching and the body tends to gain fat. Many areas, such as the breasts, hips, and abdomen may not return to their pre-pregnancy shape even with a healthy diet and exercise.
To correct many pregnancy-related cosmetic concerns, I offer a popular option called a Mommy Makeover. This procedure combines surgeries such as breast enhancement and tummy tuck for Chicago area women who want to restore their bodies after childbearing.
A Mommy Makeover generally involves some combination of breast augmentation, breast lift, liposuction and tummy tuck. Depending on the patient, a Mommy Makeover may include additional procedures. At my practice, I will personalize the surgical treatment plan to also include facial sculpting procedures such as facelift or brow lift should the patient desire them. Some women also take advantage of our non-surgical skin care options like BOTOX® Cosmetic or injectable fillers as part of their total rejuvenation.
Although the procedure is titled “Mommy Makeover,” it truly is for any woman in need of more comprehensive aesthetic enhancements, such as those who have experienced significant weight fluctuations or who would simply benefit from consolidating procedures and recovery time.
Since patients have more options for breast augmentation now than ever before, it becomes increasingly important that they seek out the advice of experienced surgeons. It is wise to spend some time researching a doctor’s qualifications prior to scheduling plastic surgery in the Chicago area. In addition to a personal consultation, I recommend a few ways to assess a surgeon’s experience and qualifications: before-and-after photos and board certification.
Before-and-after photos serve as an excellent tool for analyzing a surgeon’s work. These clinical examples provide you with an important resource for evaluating your prospective surgeon’s clinical results. You gain insight into the doctor’s surgical skills and whether or not he or she is capable of exceeding your expectations. For examples of before-and-after photos, visit my photo gallery.
Outstanding breast augmentation results are more likely when you choose a plastic surgeon who is board-certified in plastic surgery. The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify plastic surgeons. Certification by this board confirms that a surgeon has undergone comprehensive prerequisite surgical training and formal training in plastic surgery. It also indicates that the individual has successfully passed rigorous written and oral examinations initially and subsequent exams every ten years to maintain this certification. If you are not sure whether or not a physician is board certified by the ABPS, do not hesitate to ask. Organizations like the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery sound legitimate, but are not comprised of plastic surgery members. They usually consist of non-plastic surgeons who nonetheless want to perform cosmetic procedures on unsuspecting patients.
Having confidence in your surgeon’s qualifications allows you feel comfortable, safe, and confident that you will be happy with your breast augmentation results.
I find that combining a breast lift with breast augmentation for Chicago area women often produces the best results. However, some women may be entirely content with a breast lift alone.
In order to help breast enhancement patients make informed decisions, consider the following aesthetic improvements that can be achieved as part of a breast lift (mastopexy):
- Lifted breasts: Based on the name of the procedure, this is one of the obvious results. Time, childbearing, breastfeeding or significant weight fluctuations can alter breast tissue. Breasts lose their elasticity and become stretched, resulting in a droopy appearance. During a breast lift, excess skin and tissue is removed, and the breasts are repositioned higher on the chest wall.
- Firmer breasts: Because excess breast tissue is removed and remaining tissue is re-shaped, the breasts will feel firmer and more youthful.
- Improved shape: As breasts lose their elasticity and sag, they lose their round, youthful shape. A natural-looking, youthful breast typically slopes gradually from the upper chest down to the nipple, with a full, rounded lower pole (below the nipple). A breast lift will improve the curve of the upper pole and the roundness of the lower pole of the breast, restoring a perkier, more desirable shape.
- Reduced areola size: Occasionally, when breasts stretch, the areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple) stretches as well. For women who do not like the appearance of enlarged areolas, a skilled cosmetic surgeon can reduce their size.
A breast lift does not enhance volume or increase size. Increasing the size of the breasts requires a breast augmentation procedure, which is usually done with saline or silicone-gel breast implants. Reducing the size and volume requires a breast reduction. In many cases, women will choose both a breast lift and breast augmentation, which can be performed during a single operative procedure.