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Americans spend nearly $10 billion annually on cosmetic surgery according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Ironically, doctors say Hollywood's elite aren't the biggest buyers. Rather, its middle-class moms.
The biggest trend taking off in plastic surgery is called a ‘Mommy Makeover'. Hundreds of thousands of these procedures are performed every year on women ages 20 to 39.
Whatever extra blubber your baby bump left behind – a scalpel, a surgeon, and a lot of suction can take away.
Pamela Maple is a 44-year-old mother who told us she hoped a tummy tuck and body jet procedure would give her back the body she once had.
"I was always covering my stomach and always had a muffin top," Maple recalls.
After three pregnancies, Maple had three beautiful boys and a saggy stomach covered in stretch marks that no amount of cardio and crunches seemed to cure.
"Look, let's be honest. Women don't want to look like pretty moms, they want to look like pretty women," said Dr. Jeffrey Ditesheim who owns Ditesheim Plastic Surgery located in Charlotte.
He says many women who visit his office want a ‘Mommy Makeover which typically consists of a nip, tuck, and suck from the breasts to the hips.
For about $15,000, most ‘mom jobs' involve a breast lift, implants, a tummy tuck, and some liposuction. This expense is not typically covered by most insurance providers.
In Dr. Ditesheim's operating room, he uses the "Body Jet" procedure where blasts of water break up the fat making it easier to suck it out your soft spots. Less force, he says, means a faster recovery.
At the Refine Institute, also located in Charlotte, Dr. Broc Pratt prefers the ‘Smart Lipo' procedure which is the use of a tiny laser to melt the fat before it makes its way to the waste bin.
He says the heat makes a patient's muffin top easier to remove, and helps the skin tighten smoothly.
There are several other types of Laser Lipo Technologies, and sound waves can even be used to slim you down.
Each technique has different degrees of results, recovery time and risk. Doctors say the most important question, however, is not about their tools, but about their training.
Make sure your surgeon is board certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
"What the general public does not often realize is all plastic surgeons are cosmetic surgeons. All cosmetic surgeons are not plastic surgeons," Pratt points out.
Legally, any doctor can perform any procedure. So, technically, a dermatologist could give you a breast lift, but that doesn't mean they have the extensive training and expertise, just a lower price in many cases.
Check the doctor's credentials and their record with your state medical board.
Remember, just because it's called a ‘Mom Job' doesn't mean it's a packaged deal.
Don't agree to procedures you don't want or need. Doctors warn the more work done at once, usually means more risks.
A ‘Mommy Makeover' isn't about getting a picture perfect body. For many women, it's about getting back the body they had before giving birth to their baby.
"Yes, I feel made over," Maple said following her procedure. "I feel great. I feel like me, but I feel like a better me."
Altogether, the procedures involve major surgery and cost major bucks. For women like Maple, the payoff comes every time she pulls out those hot-pink pants and takes a very happy peak in the mirror.
During any pre-op consultation with your plastic surgeon, be sure to arrive at their office armed with a list of questions, and ask how often they have performed the procedure in which you're interested in.
Legally any doctor is permitted to do any procedure. For example, a psychiatrist could do a breast augmentation. If you use a board-certified plastic surgeon, you know he or she has completed three to five years of training in general surgery and a minimum of two to three years of training in plastic surgery, plus they have to take written and oral tests.
Board-certified plastic surgeons also have to do continuing medical education and take a written test every 10 years.
Check the surgeon's record.
Malpractice judgments and disciplinary actions can be found through a state Medical Board.
Ask if the surgeon has hospital privileges.
Hospitals do background checks.
Come armed with questions for the doctor.
Find out how often he or she has done the procedure you're interested in.
Be wary of multiple procedures. More procedures at once equal more risk.
Call the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (toll-free at 1-888-4-PLASTIC, or 1-888-475-2784) to get a list of surgeons in your area who perform a certain procedure and are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have graduated from an accredited medical school, completed at least five additional years of residency (typically three years of general surgery and two years of plastic surgery), practiced plastic surgery for at least two more years, and passed comprehensive exams.
Tumescent Liposuction: uses localized anesthetic rather than general anesthesia. The method injects a diluted "tumescent" mixture of fluids into the fatty tissue before removing it. Points of incision are minimal, do not require stitches and leave no scars. The injected fluids cause the fatty tissues to "tumesce," i.e. become firm and swollen, giving the surgeon better control during surgery and reducing blood loss for the patient. The body will gradually absorb and eliminate the fluids after surgery. This technique reduces side effects and improves recovery time. Most people return to work within a few days after surgery.
Laser Liposuction: one of the fast growing. It incorporates a small surgical laser to target and melt away fat before it is suctioned from the body. The use of surgical lasers allows for greater precision and more refined outcomes. Laser liposuction reduces pain, scarring, swelling and bruising, and patients experience a quicker recovery. This technique might be more expensive than traditional or tumescent liposuction; however, many people find that the improved results make it worth the extra cost.
SmartLipo™: Has been referred to as the "golden standard" of laser liposuction. SmartLipo™ laser systems are FDA-approved.
CoolLipo®: Especially designed to break down fat and simulate collagen production simultaneously. This combination of technologies increases collagen production and skin tightening. In addition, it reduces the appearance of lines, wrinkles, creping and saggy, flabby skin. The laser can be used in a variety of areas, including small areas such as the jowls, chin and neck. CoolLipo® is FDA approved for both general dermatological surgery and laser liposuction.
LipoLite®: Allows doctors and surgeons unprecedented control over the laser's pulse energy, pulse length and repetition rate. The added features, functionality and user-friendly configurability allow doctors to customize their patient's treatment. Short-low-power pulses break up highly fibrous areas and fatty tissues, while longer and more powerful pulses melt the fat. The LipoLite is FDA approved for laser lipolysis and various other dermatological procedures.
Water-Jet assisted liposuction: Uses a high-pressure spray of water to dislodge fat in the targeted areas before the fat and water are suctioned out. This technique reduces tissue trauma and allows surgeons greater control than many liposuction methods. It takes less time, and some studies reveal that it reduces the appearance of cellulite. Because it is a newer procedure, not as many surgeons offer currently this technique.
Ultrasonic Liposuction: Uses sound waves and ultrasonic technology to aid in the removal of unwanted fat. High pitched sound waves passing through the cannula; loose, disrupt and liquefy fatty tissue, before it is removed from the body. In addition, the ultrasonic liposuction technique dilutes the fat with an injected liquid solution, making it easier to remove the fat.
Body-Jet® Liposuction: Reduces downtime even more than other techniques. Body-Jet is also known as "Water Lipo" or "H2O Lipo." Body-Jet water-assisted liposuction harnesses the healing power of water by loosening fat cells without damaging them, and then removing them from the body. A special water solution separates layers of fat cells at their weakest points. This means that surrounding blood vessels and connective tissues remain intact, making the Body-Jet less invasive while delivering significant slimming results.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported a rise in cosmetic surgery among women of child-bearing age (not all of whom are necessarily mothers). Last year (2006), doctors nationwide performed more than 325,000 "mommy makeover procedures" on women ages 20 to 39, up 11 percent from 2005, the group said.
Other surgeons worry that packaging multiple procedures under a cutesy nickname could induce women to have additional operations, potentially increasing their risk of everything from infections to death.
Various studies published in medical journals have reported death rates from liposuction at one in 5,000 procedures to one in 50,000 procedures.