Cute little baby girl wearing pink suit standing with mother outdoors

Even though I’m cute, it’s my fault

We’ve all seen the sweet Johnson & Johnson commercials where a mother lovingly stares down at her new child and the tag line says, “Having a baby changes everything.”  What those commercials don’t show is the woman later staring at herself in the mirror and saying, “Having a baby changes everything!”

Women who come to me for consultations and/or surgeries after having children, whether they gave birth 2 years or 20 years ago, have one resounding complaint – they want their bodies back. A Mommy Makeover is a popular term that describes a surgical procedure to do just that.  Because every patient is unique in their post-baby aesthetic needs, a Mommy Makeover is a general phrase to mean anything from breast augmentation to liposuction to a breast lift to a tummy tuck or any combination thereof.

Moms are used to answering lots of questions (Why is the sky blue?  Why can’t I see the wind? Who invented God?), but today I’m going to let the moms do the asking.  Here are the questions I most often get from San Francisco and Bay Area moms who are considering a Mommy Makeover:

Why does my stomach still look like this despite diet and exercise?  Will a Mommy Makeover help it to go back to normal?

The rectus abdominis muscles are muscles that go up and down, next to the belly button.  The are often called the “six pack” muscles. When you’re born, these muscles are next to each other, and meet in the middle of your tummy. During pregnancy, these muscles separate as your belly grows.  If you lay flat on your back and do an abdominal “crunch” while looking at your stomach, you may notice that your tummy makes a tent shape as you flex. This slight separation is called a diastasis.

If you are relatively fit and thin, and you still have loose tummy skin and loose abdominal muscles in that area, then you may need a tummy tuck to tighten your rectus abdominis muscles.  During your tummy tuck operation, the right and left rectus abdominis muscles are sutured together, resulting in putting the muscles back into their original positions.

How long is the recovery time for a Mommy Makeover?

I know that moms are the busiest people on earth.  But you’ll feel better faster if you take the time to properly recover from your Mommy Makeover.

For the first 2-3 days, you will need consistent help and care to make sure that you stay hydrated, stay on top of your pain medication schedule, and have help getting in and out of bed, etc.  A good option is to reserve a room at a post-op care facility.  We use the effective if not creatively named Post-Op Recovery Place (  These types of facilities have the experience to help you during your recovery, which your well-meaning family and friends may not have.

You should spend the next 3-5 days in a hotel or at your house with a caregiver, like your sister/ husband/ nurse/ best friend/ cabana boy from Miami.  Plan on a staying home for a full 7 -14 days before returning to an office job, longer for more physical jobs.

Be sure to go grocery shopping, pick up your pain medications at the pharmacy, arrange for help with the kids, get lots of good books, and rent some “chick flicks” before your procedure so that you are all set when you get home.  A diet rich in protein will help you heal faster.

How can I reduce pain and recovery time after my Mommy Makeover?

Typically, the more procedures you have done, the greater your recovery time and pain.  But there are several things that I do to greatly reduce both.

  1. Reducing Drain Time – When most plastic surgeons close the tummy tuck, they just close the skin edges, and insert a drain, and let the drain work for 5-8 days.  I actually use a technique to suture the tummy tuck tissue to the underlying abdominal wall muscles.  This allows much less friction between the skin and the tummy muscles, resulting in less seroma fluid/ less post-surgery fluid, and less pain.  It also means your drain doesn’t stay in as long.  I can usually remove it in 1-2 days.
  1. Out Patient Surgery–  Most tummy tucks are done in a hospital setting, at least in San Francisco.  The only reason is that conservative surgeons are concerned about pain control after surgery.  I use a pain pump, which I’ll explain below, but this allows my patients to have an “out patient surgery” procedure.  You come in, have your procedure, and go home/ to the hotel room.  This reduces the risk of hospital based infection, and most people seem to want to recover in their own home, or in a hotel room, as opposed to a room with a new roommate in a hospital.  Obviously, most patients who want a tummy tuck are younger, so there’s no medical reason to undergo surgery in a hospital setting for medical illness concerns, like high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.  Rather, it’s done in a hospital for post-op pain control.
  1. Pain Pump – This is a truly awesome medical device, and my patients love it.  It has a long catheter (a very tiny, thin, long tube) attached to empty ball.  The ball or pain pump is filled with numbing medicine.  The numbing medicine slowly leaks out of the end of the long tube.  During your operation, I place the tiny long tube in the area of surgery.  This allows numbing medicine to be slowly dispensed in the area of maximal surgery and maximal pain.  The numbing medicine acts to numb the area of tummy muscle tightening and under the long tummy tuck incision.  You’ll still need pain medications by mouth, but a lot fewer pills for a shorter period of time.  The numbing medicine is dispensed by the pain pump for 3-5 days, depending on how big the ball is.

How much does a Mommy Makeover cost in San Francisco?

This is a difficult question to answer because obviously the more procedures you have, the more it will cost.  For a typical Mommy Makeover in San Francisco that includes a breast lift with augmentation, a tummy tuck, and some moderate liposuction, patients can expect to pay around $20,000.  This includes the surgeon’s fee, operating room fee, and anesthesia fee.  Generally, post-surgery visits are free.

If a mom just needs some liposuction in the tummy area, depending on how much fat there is, and if it’s done in the office or operating room, expect to pay anywhere from $1000 – $4000.  It costs less in the office, but a lot of patients get too nervous.  If you’re too nervous, then I need to give you sedation medicine, which means that I need to do the procedure in the operating room to monitor you, which drives up the cost.

If you’d like more information on a Mommy Makeover in San Francisco, or would like more information, please contact Caroline, our Patient Care Coordinator. She can be reached at or 415-362-1846.


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