by Dr. John Millard
The process of restoring your abdomen after pregnancy is important to many new mothers who want to rebuild their core and rejuvenate the appearance of their bellies. Pregnancy is a beautiful, life-affirming experience that is filled with joy, anticipation – and maybe even a sprinkle of anxiety. Through this experience, our bodies go through a series of changes that may not immediately reverse after your child is born. Although exercises and diet plans are marketed to help “bounce back after the baby,” many of the clients only report underwhelming results – if any. That is why Dr. John A. Millard and his expert team at Millard Plastic Surgery offer certain abdominal procedures to assist new mothers in restoring their core postpartum. These simple yet effective procedures give new mothers a viable option to spend more time with their newborns and less time worrying about rejuvenating their bodies on their own. If you were recently pregnant and interested in seeing how Dr. Millard’s state-of-the-art technologies and techniques can help your body bounce back properly, please schedule a personal consultation at our Denver location. To reach our front desk directly, please call (303) 792-5665.
Physiological Changes During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a variety of changes take place in a woman’s body to support the growth and development of her unborn child. While every woman is different, common changes include:
- Increased maternal fat stores
- Increased kidney size and weight
- Elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone
- 25-35 pounds increase in weight
- Slower digestive track
- Increased appetite and dietary needs
For many women, these changes resolve after pregnancy and lactation are through, but – particularly for women who have children later in life – these changes might not reverse quickly enough, if ever. Three common changes that are difficult to treat without surgical intervention are outstretched skin, separated abdominal muscles, and stubborn hard-to-lose fat.
Abdominal Skin Laxity
Our skin is made up of collagen and elastin fibers that are flexible, tensile, and crucial in keeping our skin appearing young and firm. As we age, the cells responsible for replenishing our body’s collagen and elastin supply weaken, causing our skin to lose its elasticity. Once stretched past a certain threshold, our skin is just unable to bounce back to its former appearance. This is often the case for women who have recently been pregnant. Many of our patients at Millard Plastic Surgery have excess skin on their bellies and ask how they can remedy this unwanted tissue at home. Though exercises and an active lifestyle tighten muscles, there is no gym to sculpt away unwanted skin.
Another common aesthetic problem in your core might be related to separated abdominal muscles. This is a commonly occurrence during the third trimester or labor, diastasis recti is a condition where the abdominal muscles have separated horizontally from each other, widening the center ridge of the abdomen known as the linea alba. Once the two halves separate, a bulge forms. The bulge can be small, or it can take up the entire abdomen. It occurs due to intense force and strain as the fetus pushes pressure on the abdominal muscles. New mothers with this condition have reported many adverse symptoms like weak pelvic floor muscles, urinary incontinence, and overall lower quality of life.
To remove unwanted excess skin tissue and restore your abdomen, Dr. Millard utilizes an abdominoplasty, otherwise known as a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck is a simple surgical solution to sculpt away lax skin and repair separated core muscles. Depending on how much loose skin you have, Dr. Millard will elect to go with a certain abdominoplasty procedure. By making discreet incisions just under your bikini line, Dr. Millard can access your abdominal musculature and locate the separated abdominal muscles. From here, he can pull them back into natural alignment and keep them in place with medical-grade sutures. This process will smooth away any bump or protrusion in your belly caused by diastasis recti. Next, he will pull the skin taut and gently excise the superfluous skin tissue. Finally, he will carefully suture the incision closed.
VASER Hi-Def Liposuction
For those who have excess, unwanted fatty tissue around their abdomen, Dr. Millard will add VASER Hi-Def Liposuction to your personalized treatment plan. This procedure is perfectly compatible with a tummy tuck. The VASER technology uses strong yet gentle ultrasound waves to break up subcutaneous fat cells from the surrounding connective tissue. This enables a skilled and trained surgeon like Dr. Millard to extract more fat cells than traditional liposculpture procedures. With VASER Hi-Def, Dr. Millard can remove the minute deposits of fat in between each abdominal muscle, leaving behind a perfectly contoured and sculpted set of washboard abs.
EMSCULPT is a new, non-invasive procedure that burns fat and stimulates muscle growth simultaneously. Using high-intensity focused electromagnetic technology, EMSCULPT causes 20,000 contractions in your abdominal muscles during a 30-minute session. This quick and painless treatment is perfect for new mothers interested in restoring their abdominal muscles without having to undergo a surgical procedure. Two weeks after their EMSCULPT session patients have shown a 20% increase in muscles mass in the target areas.
For women looking to restore their abdomen, we ask that you first be at a healthy, stable weight if you decide to undergo one of these procedures. We ask this because these procedures are not weight-loss surgeries but rather body contouring procedures. If weight is gained afterward, results will be diminished. We also ask that you be at the end of your family-building journey as a new pregnancy can reignite all the corrections made in these procedures. Lastly, we ask that you be fully healed and recovered from your pregnancy by the time of your procedure(s).
The first step in this process is to schedule a personal consultation with us at our Denver offices. Here, we will be able to learn more about your desired aesthetic as well as answer any questions you may have.
Dr. John A. Millard is a board-certified plastic surgeon with the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. He is a sought-after teacher in the world of advanced liposuction, liposculpture, and fat grafting techniques. Dr. Millard was the first to perform VASER Hi-Def in the United States and teaches many surgeons how to use this revolutionary technology. He is honored and thrilled to employ his skill, knowledge, and expertise to his Denver clientele.
To begin your consultation, we will perform a brief physical examination and a new patient intake interview. Then, Dr. Millard will ask about your ideal aesthetic results. He will examine how lax your abdominal skin is as well as if any abdominal muscles have separated. Then, he will determine if a surgical or a non-invasive approach is appropriate to achieve your desired results. Next, Dr. Millard will construct a personalized treatment to address all of your needs. Finally, before you leave our care, we will give you a list of preparatory steps.
If your treatment plan only involves EMSCULPT, you will not have to do much in terms of preparation. However, if your plan includes more invasive procedures, some common preparatory steps include:
- Avoid smoking as nicotine constricts blood vessels and hampers your body’s natural healing abilities
- Avoid alcohol as alcohol can increase chances of bruising and prolong recovery
- Avoid blood-thinning medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and NSAIDs as these can cause excessive bleeding during surgery
- Designate a caregiver to drive you home from your procedure and look after you for the first 24 hours
- Fill any prescriptions we give you beforehand. When you get home, you will want to focus solely on recovery.
Recovery & Results
Depending on which procedure Dr. Millard and you agree upon, you will wear a compression garment around your abdomen. This will help support proper healing in the treated areas(s). Over time, as the swelling subsides, you will notice your abdomen looks more sculpted and defined. The bulges, loose skin, and unwanted fat have disappeared and now it looks like it did before you have children. If you continue leading a healthy, active lifestyle, you will be able to retain these fabulous results for a long time!
The cost of restoring your abdomen after pregnancy will vary depending on which procedures were performed and utilized during your treatment plan. We will discuss prices and financing during your consultation. If you would like to reach us directly, please call (303) 792-5665.
- Moya, J., Phillips, L., Sanford, J. et al. A review of physiological and behavioral changes during pregnancy and lactation: Potential exposure factors and data gaps. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 24, 449–458 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2013.92
- Jessen, M. L., Öberg, S., & Rosenberg, J. (2019). Treatment Options for Abdominal Rectus Diastasis. Frontiers in surgery, 6, 65. https://doi.org/10.3389/fsurg.2019.00065
- Benjamin, D. R., van de Water, A. T., & Peiris, C. L. (2014). Effects of exercise on diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscle in the antenatal and postnatal periods: a systematic review. Physiotherapy, 100(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physio.2013.08.005
- Kinney, B. M., & Lozanova, P. (2019). High intensity focused electromagnetic therapy evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging: Safety and efficacy study of a dual tissue effect based non-invasive abdominal body shaping. Lasers in surgery and medicine, 51(1), 40–46. https://doi.org/10.1002/lsm.23024