I Got A Mommy Makeover & I’ve Never Felt More Comfortable In My Own Skin

What it’s really like to undergo the procedure.

by Marissa Rose
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mommy makeover experience

I never thought I’d be one to get a mommy makeover. Even after three C-sections, I maintained a healthy weight, was able to fit into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes, and generally felt good about myself. That is, except for my non-existent breasts (which could accurately be compared to deflated balloons) and excess skin along my lower abdomen (that my dedicated Pilates routine just couldn’t seem to banish). I started becoming increasingly self-conscious about these areas of my body, and began dipping my toes into the world of cosmetic surgery. A close family member of mine had gotten a mommy makeover after she was done having children and was extremely pleased with her results. Her "before" was quite similar to mine, and upon seeing her dramatic but still natural "after”, I knew this was something I wanted to do for myself.

As with most things these days, I headed to TikTok to begin my research. I stumbled upon some impressive before and after mommy makeovers from Los Angeles-based board-certified plastic surgeon David Stoker of Stoker Plastic Surgery. I sent a few screenshots to the aforementioned family member (who, come to find out, had her mommy makeover done by him a few years prior), had two consultations with him, and my surgery was set for two months later. I was prepared for several aspects of my mommy makeover experience, but there was also a lot I didn't expect. Ahead, find out everything you need to know about mommy makeovers — from someone who got one.

So, What Exactly Is A Mommy Makeover?

A “mommy makeover” is a term that refers to a common cluster of procedures that plastic surgeons perform on mothers, Dr. Stoker tells TZR. Typically, the procedure includes liposuction, a breast surgery of some type (such as an augmentation, lift, reduction, or a combination of an augmentation and lift), and a tummy tuck (also known as an abdominoplasty). The order of procedures can vary, but they're usually done in the aforementioned order of liposuction, breast surgery, and abdominoplasty.

While this combination of procedures can be performed on anyone (including those who have undergone severe weight loss), they're typically grouped together as a "mommy makeover" to combat some of the common changes a woman's body goes through during pregnancy. "Most often after pregnancy we see increased laxity, wrinkles, or stretch marks of the abdominal skin, especially on the lower abdomen," says Dr. Stoker. Many women also experience diastasis recti, which occurs when the abdominal muscles become stretched out by the growing uterus — this can make it appear as though the patient is still pregnant (at best), and can contribute to severe lower back pain (at worst).

In addition to abdominal changes, the breasts can become affected during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some common side effects include deflation, higher skin laxity, appearance of stretch marks and wrinkles, and lower-positioned areolas. Finally, as Dr. Stoker explains, fat can redistribute during pregnancy, with commonly affected areas on women being the inner and outer thighs as well as around the waist. The procedures that make up a mommy makeover, as outlined below, can help address these changes and restore the body.


"Liposuction is the removal of subcutaneous fat (or fat under the skin) through metal tubes that are inserted through tiny incisions," explains Dr. Stoker. "Suction is then applied and the fat is selectively removed while sparing most of the blood vessels and nerves." While the procedure isn't a substitute for weight loss, it can be effective at giving a more contoured appearance to the body. Recovery is typically quick, and the complication rate is the lowest of any plastic surgery operation, says Dr. Stoker.

Breast Surgery

Mommy makeovers aren't a one size fits all, and the type of breast surgery for each case will depend on each patient's individual needs. "A breast augmentation involves placing a silicone or saline breast implant through a small incision to increase size and provide a small amount of lift," says Dr. Stoker. "I use a rapid recovery breast augmentation technique, which has a shorter recovery time than the typical breast augmentation operation, and most of my patients can return to work within one to two days of surgery."

A breast lift refers to the removal of excess skin on the breast that is common after aging, breastfeeding, or weight loss. "It also often includes repositioning of the nipple to a higher and more youthful location," says Dr. Stoker, who adds that a breast lift will result in incisions or scars surrounding the areola and often vertically and horizontally as well. "A breast lift does not involve the muscles of the chest, so the recovery is relatively fast, with approximately one to two days off of work being adequate for most patients," says Dr. Stoker.

Tummy Tuck

"The tummy tuck is the largest and most dramatic of the mommy makeover operations," says Dr. Stoker. "It typically includes removal of a large amount of lower abdominal skin, repositioning of the belly button, and tightening of the abdominal muscles that have been permanently stretched out after pregnancy." Most people take approximately one week off of work, and it takes approximately six weeks to be back at full exercise. However, if your tummy tuck involves muscle repair (which most cases do), it'll require approximately two months to fully heal.

The Safety Of A Mommy Makeover

It can be intimidating having all procedures performed in one operation, but in most cases, it doesn't pose a safety issue if performed in expert hands. "In my patient population, I have found that there is no statistical difference in the complication rate whether a tummy tuck was performed with liposuction and breast surgery or without," says Dr. Stoker. Plus, there are benefits to having them all done in one surgery, which include "the need for only one anesthetic procedure and one recovery, as well as some cost savings while in surgery as well as in missing work for recovery," he adds. That being said, a surgeon may recommend performing the procedures separately for patients who are obese or who have significant medical problems (such as diabetes) or risk factors (such as smoking).

My mommy makeover consisted of a breast augmentation and a full tummy tuck with muscle repair. Ahead, here are 10 things I wish I knew before my surgery.

1. Consultations Are Confusing

I highly recommend going on multiple consultations (three is a good number) because it’s likely that each plastic surgeon will tell you something different. One told me that I would absolutely end up with a vertical scar (I didn’t) while another threw confusing medical jargon at me. Your plastic surgeon should create an inviting atmosphere that makes you feel comfortable enough to express your areas of concern and ask any and all questions.

Ultimately, I chose my surgeon for his warmth, expertise, and photo gallery that featured several patients who resembled my "before”. Though all results are different, browsing "before" photos that are similar to you can offer a clearer picture of the surgeon's skill on your body type. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a second consultation to confirm the surgeon is the right fit for you.

2. Making The Decision To Do It Can Be Hard

I had always written off the idea of a mommy makeover because it seemed so far out of reach for me: Who would watch my three young toddlers while I recovered? How will I ever find a surgeon I’ll trust enough? Will people around me discount my uncompromising dedication to getting fit on my own? And finally, how much is this going to set me back cost-wise? As much as I wanted to enhance my breasts and tummy, I inevitably felt the night-before jitters and found myself second-guessing it all. It's important to remember that these feelings are completely normal considering how invasive these procedures are, and that in the end, it was all worth it for me.

3. You Might Get Judged

A few people around me told me I don't need a mommy makeover, that I'm crazy for even considering it, and that cosmetic surgery was a waste of money. Acquaintances in passing would look down on tummy tucks specifically, saying it's the "easy way out" to achieving a flat stomach. For someone like me who strengthened their muscles as much as possible yet still had excess skin that physically couldn't be removed without surgery, these comments were extremely disheartening.

But, I kept reminding myself of one thing: Cars get dented in an accident. Phone screens get cracked if you drop them. Faucets can get leaky over time. People rush to fix these things when they happen, so why should mommy makeover patients be judged if they choose to fix their body that got damaged during pregnancy? I decided to get a mommy makeover to restore my body and add a slight enhancement while I was at it. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

4. Camel Toes Are A Possible (But Temporary) Side Effect

If your mommy makeover includes a tummy tuck, consider that in some cases, women may experience a camel toe following the procedure. "Camel toe is a layperson term for a deep labial crease where clothing tends to slide into, making it easier to see the female genitalia," says Dr. Stoker. "Most often, this is a result of the patient's own anatomy and life changes — for instance during pregnancy, after weight gain or weight loss, and as a result of aging." After a tummy tuck, the pubic area, in addition to the entire abdomen area, is prone to swelling, which may result in a camel toe. This is considered normal and typically subsides once swelling goes down.

5. You Might End Up With Unplanned Scars

Nobody wants to wake up from surgery with a scar they didn't know they were going to end up with, but in some cases, they’re necessary. "One of the things I believe is important to discuss with patients is the exact location of their scars," says Dr. Stoker. "For a tummy tuck, I find it crucial to design the lower abdominal incision so that it is located where the patient would typically position their underwear or bathing suit bottoms."

Dr. Stoker goes on, "In some cases where patients have relatively tight upper abdominal skin, it can be difficult to remove all of the lower abdominal skin and relocate the belly button without requiring an additional vertical scar, which would be located just above the pubic hair region.” He also notes that while vertical scars are rarely necessary in his practice, it's nonetheless still important to discuss the chances of having one with your surgeon.

6. Successful Bathroom Visits Will Be Victories

Remember the mental gold medal you gave yourself when you went to the bathroom for the first time post-delivery? Yep, the same rings true when it comes to recovering from a mommy makeover. The combination of opioid narcotic painkillers and less physical activity following the surgery make constipation more likely, but personally, I was more concerned of urine retention (I had to be re-catheterised for all three of my C-sections because I couldn't urinate on my own after the procedure). "Anesthesia can make it difficult for a patient to have full control of the smooth muscles of their bladder and urinary sphincters following surgery," explains Dr. Stoker. "As the medications wear off, the patient is able to regain full control." Most surgeons will insert a foley catheter to decompress the bladder, which Dr. Stoker says will take all pressure off of the bladder wall.

If you're more concerned with constipation, your surgeon will likely tell you to keep stool softeners on deck (prune juice and fiber-rich fruit like kiwi and pear also help, as does choosing your protein shakes wisely, as many of them can cause serious gas pains).

7. You’ll Need More Help Than You Think

Especially true if you have young children, recovery requires all hands on deck. As I learned, a mommy makeover will quickly teach you that you can't do it all (nor should you try to). Immediately after surgery, there's a lot I wasn't able to do without assistance (expected things like getting in and out of bed, but also unexpected things like pumping soap out of a soap dispenser). Give yourself time to line up extra care for you and your children (and don't forget about pre-planning your meals).

8. Results Will Change (A Lot) Over Time

It's easier said than done, but when it comes to final results, it's important to trust the process. "Immediately following the surgery, there is significant swelling from the magnitude of the procedure, but results will improve dramatically over the first several months," says Dr. Stoker, who recommends waiting about six months to see the final results. During this time, it's normal for your breast size and shape to shift, your scars to appear more pronounced, and your abdomen and liposuction sites to look larger than you'd expect. Consider wearing binders and compression garments during this healing period (I wore the surgical binder for a few weeks before switching to the Marena High-Waist Zipperless Girdle, which provided ample support and didn't disrupt how my clothing fit).

9. Recovery Can Be Mentally Draining

"It’s not a matter of if you’ll cry, it’s when," I remember my recovery nurse telling me. I like to think of myself as a tough cookie and shrugged this statement off, but sure enough, seven days post-op, it hit me. The thing is, yes, a mommy makeover is an elective procedure and yes, most women know what they’re getting themselves into. But that doesn’t change the fact that physical recovery aside, it can be mentally taxing. During those first few days, I had to tell myself that this was all temporary.

10. Scar Recovery Is Important

I didn't do anything to fade my C-section scars, but when it comes to mommy makeover scars (specifically, the tummy tuck scar, which goes from hip to hip), proper aftercare is crucial if you want it to fade nicely. You should wait until you receive clearance from your surgeon before beginning any scar treatment. I used Bio Oil and Sunnie Scar Smooth medical-grade silicone scar tape to manage my scars, and continue to take photos to track the progress.

In The End, It Was All Worth It

OK, this is one thing I did know beforehand, but really, when it's all said and done, getting a mommy makeover was one of the best things I decided to do for myself. So much of what we do as moms is sacrifice for the people around us, and that includes our bodies. While a mommy makeover can play on you mentally, physically, and financially, being able to feel confident in my own skin is priceless.