How one woman got her pre-baby body back.

Name: Crystal C.

Procedures: Abdominoplasty, breast lift and breast augmentation

Performed by: Dr. Frank Lista

14 05 19 Beforeandafter 1

For most of her life, Crystal C. had been overweight, but things really spiralled out of control when she became pregnant. Crystal, whose pre-pregnancy size was a 16 to 18, ended up at a size 22 to 24 after giving birth to her daughter.

“It just added insult to injury at that point,” says Crystal, who lives in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Her daughter, Sidney, was born in 2000, and Crystal continued to struggle with her weight. Then, just before her daughter’s 10th birthday, Crystal decided to take charge of her life. She overhauled her diet, started exercising five times a week and, two years later, was down to a size eight after shedding a remarkable 130 pounds. But the massive weight loss left her with what Crystal describes as “copious amounts of skin” in her abdomen area that no amount of dieting or exercise could eliminate. Crystal was also unhappy with the appearance of her “saggy” breasts. In July 2012, she met with Dr. Frank Lista, who was recommended to her by her trainer.

“My weight had been out of control and I wanted to be there for my child, so I made myself over healthwise,” she says, “and that turned into thinking that, as a woman, I deserved to look as good as I feel.”

“There was no more I could do via food or the gym.”

Dr. Lista recommended that Crystal go through with a mommy makeover procedure, which would remove the excess skin and repair her abdominal muscles while also fixing her breasts through a lift and augmentation, all done in one full swoop.

While Crystal was emotionally ready to go through with cosmetic surgery, the path to arriving at this place of mental certainty wasn’t an easy one. Crystal had always felt judged about being overweight, and then felt judged once she decided to do something about her body. “You go from feeling like you’re not good enough being a larger person to maybe you’re not a good mother or a good person because now you’re being vain and selfish by spending so much time and effort on changing who you are,” Crystal says.

While she’s been fortunate to have a supportive family and a supportive circle of friends, she recalls feeling “trapped” inside a body “that didn’t match the person that was inside.” Ultimately, after years of hard work overhauling her lifestyle and her body, Crystal says emphatically, “I knew I was doing this because I deserved it.”

She underwent surgery in February 2013 and tears up when remembering what she felt like that day. “It was like a kid on Christmas Eve because I knew that I was going to go to sleep and when I woke up it was going to be something really amazing that I never thought would happen,” she recalls.

Crystal had a great recovery and, within two to three weeks, the vast majority of her bruising had vanished. She felt completely healed about three to four months post-surgery, and by six months all the swelling was gone. She describes herself as “absolutely ecstatic” with the results. And it doesn’t hurt that she now wears a size four or six.

The positive effects of her mommy makeover have helped transform both her body and her life. Crystal recalls avoiding places like the beach and amusement parks because she was afraid to wear a bathing suit or tank top.

“I stopped living life because of the way I looked,” she says.

She feels strongly that moms deserve to have their own time to do things that will make them healthier and happier.

“A mother is the foundation of a family, and if you take care of yourself, the quality of life of those around you is just going to be more enriched,” she says.

ASK THE DOCTOR

Dr. Frank Lista, MD, FRCS(C), Founder and Medical Director of The Plastic Surgery Clinic, Mississauga and Toronto, 905-278-7077, theplasticsurgeryclinic.com

ELEVATE: What’s involved in a mommy makeover?

DR. LISTA: It’s a little different with everybody, but it almost always includes something for the tummy and something for the breasts. The most common thing we do is a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), liposuction or both. If we’re doing breasts, it could be a breast lift, a breast reduction, a breast augmentation or an augmentation with a lift.

ELEVATE: What’s done during this procedure?

DR. LISTA: Your tummy has two muscles that go all the way from your rib cage to your pelvic bone, straight down the front. Normally they’re attached at the midline, but if you’ve had a really big baby or your muscles can’t stretch enough, they come apart. And if they don’t go back together, you have a gap in between those two muscles and that’s why your stomach can’t be perfectly flat. What we do in the surgery, if the patient needs it, is we sew those two muscles back together and both excess skin and excess fat are removed.

ELEVATE: What incisions are made?

DR. LISTA: With a tummy tuck you end up with a bikini line incision, so it looks like a Caesarean scar, except a little bit longer. If you already have a Caesarean scar, then we’ll just use the same scar. Often there’s a little scar around the belly button as well.

ELEVATE: How long is the procedure?

DR. LISTA: The whole thing takes around three and a half hours, and those patients almost always go home the same day.

ELEVATE: What is recovery like?

DR. LISTA: Our patients feel pretty good because we use this device called a pain relief pump. It looks like a little box and there’s a little pump inside filled with long-acting local anaesthetic—it runs all night long, automatically circulating anaesthetic solution all around the area. It’s not a narcotic, so it doesn’t make you sleepy. Because of this, patients feel good and don’t have to take as much pain medicine. Most people are back to work in two or three weeks.

ELEVATE: What’s the advantage of having several procedures done at the same time with a mommy makeover?

DR. LISTA: There are a bunch of advantages. First of all, it’s one anaesthetic. Because it’s one anaesthetic, there are some cost savings to us and we pass that on to the patient. Also, the time it takes to do the procedures together is shorter than the time it takes to do them separately. If you do the procedures together, it’s just three weeks (instead of three weeks for the tummy and then another three weeks for the breasts), so it cuts your recovery time in half.

ELEVATE: What’s the average cost of a mommy makeover?

DR. LISTA: Generally you’re looking at somewhere between $12,000 and $18,000, depending on what is done. At the highest amount, that would mean a tummy tuck, liposuction, a breast lift and implants.

ELEVATE: Who should have a mommy makeover? Who are the best candidates for this?

DR. LISTA: Women who were happy with their look before and feel that most of their changes have come about because of pregnancy. Women who are healthy, generally fit and pretty close to their ideal body weight.