Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mommy Makeovers, Nip 'n Tuck Style

Behold the female cheetah: athlete supreme, fearless predator, and mother. When out for a run, she's capable of going from 0 to 68 miles per hour in an astonishing three seconds flat, and along with her male counterpart, she is the fastest land animal on the planet.


Just look at that soft, sagging underbelly, though. According to some plastic surgeons, she needs a Mommy Makeover.


DR. DAVID A. STOKER, a plastic surgeon in Marina Del Rey, Calif., has a surgical cure for the ravages of motherhood. He, like many plastic surgeons nationwide, calls it a “mommy makeover.”

Aimed at mothers, it usually involves a trifecta: a breast lift with or without breast implants, a tummy tuck and some liposuction. The procedures are intended to hoist slackened skin as well as reduce stretch marks and pregnancy fat.

“The severe physical trauma of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding can have profound negative effects that cause women to lose their hourglass figures,” he said. His practice, Marina Plastic Surgery Associates, maintains a Web site, amommymakeover.com, which describes the surgeries required to overhaul a postpregnancy body.


Without a doubt, having a baby will change your body, and how much of you is affected by the process of carrying around an ever-growing, active fetus--in my case, one aspiring Tae Kwon Do champ after another--is largely determined by your genes. Regardless of your lineage, though, you will gain some weight (not all of which belongs to Baby, either) and your breasts will definitely swell, sometimes to shocking dimensions: at first with general fluid retention, and later, with milk to feed the little one. A Cesarean section will leave you with a horizontal scar above your pubic bone; pushing babies out the hard way, as I did with each of my three, can tear you ten ways 'till Christmas if you're unlucky.

Your bones will soften as your body prepares to separate your pelvis during birth in order to allow the baby's head--as broad as a large grapefruit and as hard and heavy as a cannonball--to pass through it. Sometimes your hips or ribcage--or both--will be prised open a bit, and while they do settle back into their normal positions after a year or so, some women swear their bones remain permanently shifted.

Softer bones mean wider feet for many women, too; most mothers report gaining at least a half-size, which is both a a blessing (new shoes!) and a curse (new $hoes).

These are the main changes; there are countless others, though, most of which are temporary, a few of which, like softer and less perky breasts, are permanent. Softer breasts, and oh yes, a softer tummy featuring skin you can no longer bounce a quarter on. Damn.

Listen, I'm all for self-determination and freedom of choice. If you're bothered by the coffee stains on your teeth, the gray streaks in your hair, the smallness or sleepiness of your breasts, or the size of your thighs--and you've got the time, money, and inclination to do something about it--by all means, do as you will if it helps your confidence. I can't think of a single woman I know who doesn't at least file her nails and color her hair.

What disturbs me, however, is the packaging of motherhood as an illness of sorts, one with aftereffects that must be remedied before sending a woman back into the fray as taut and tempting as she was before tossing the condom box to the wind. The boys are depending on us...

Because really, we've been doing this birthin' baby stuff for quite some time now, we women, and only recently have the normal, natural physical effects of being a walking incubator been recast as damage that must be addressed with invasive surgery.

There is a saying: Nine months up; nine months down. Meaning, if you do nothing drastically different--if you simply carry on your day, eating as you did before the pregnancy and generally doing what new mothers do (how long have you got?), your body will return to its pre-pregnancy weight--give or take a few pounds, depending on whether you're nursing--in about nine months.

And if you've been doing your Kegel exercises with an eye toward having stronger bladder control and better orgasms (my human sexuality professor taught us that, back in the late 70's, undoubtedly inspiring most if not all of the 500 students in the hall to begin the secret workouts right then and there), you'll probably be fine when it comes to the dreaded and little-discussed loss of muscle tone in parts that really count.

Marketing a prix fixe set of exorbitantly expensive plastic surgery procedures to post-partem women, though? That smacks of patriarchal opportunism, at best.

And at worst, proponents of the Mommy Makeover would seem to be seeking a complete negation of the pregnancy and childbirth experience, something which should be celebrated and valued--cheered, even--whether or not you might wish to fix something later, which would of course be your right.

I'd much rather see the phrase Mom Job defined as "where to type in Writer on the standard application for a newborn's universal health coverage".

Via Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Also at Shakesville.

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