Kim Kardashian's latest post-baby "selfie" has raised the question again. Did she really lose 70 pounds in just four months using the "Atkins diet" and exercise alone?
"It's possible but not likely," says Park Ridge plastic surgeon Sam Speron M.D. "You have to be very blessed genetically to look this good so quickly after having a child."
Many plastic surgeons speculate the 32-year-old has had body-tightening and fat-melting procedures. That's even more likely considering Kardashian's previous cosmetic procedures. In recent years she's transformed her entire body, reportedly with the help of a nose job, face lift, cheek implants, breast implants, buttock implants, and liposuction. It wouldn't be surprising if the reality star turned to surgery once again to regain her pre-baby figure.
But if that's the case, Kardashian isn't alone. Increasing numbers of Chicago women are also seeking plastic surgery after having a child.
"By and large," says Dr. Speron, "women in the Chicago area are choosing to get two procedures: a breast augmentation or a tummy tuck. Many women are choosing to combine both procedures at once." In the last decade breast augmentations have risen 50% and tummy tucks have almost doubled (to 107,000 procedures a year.) Experts say post-pregnancy patients are a main reason why.
Breast augmentation continues to be the number one operation women seek after having a child. Some women complain that their breasts deflate after childbirth, becoming smaller and saggy. Breast feeding then accelerates the loss of tissue and density and the rise of stretch marks.
"In many cases, these changes can endanger a marriage," says Dr. Speron. "Women will say they don't feel desirable. They don't measure up to their own personal standards of sex appeal and femininity.... and no amount of reassurance from their husbands can change their minds."
During the procedure the plastic surgeon makes small skin incisions and places implants under the skin and tissue of the breasts. The incisions are made either in the breast's creases, the circle around the areolas, or in the armpits.
The plastic surgeon says a breast lift alone will only restore the breast shape; restoring its past size and density requires an implant. There are several types of implants available. Most are filled with either silicone or a saline (saltwater) solution. Dr. Speron says current silicone gel implants are completely different than the ones that caused problems almost twenty years ago. The current implants are much safer and better mimic real breast tissue. They're also firmer and less likely to rupture, even if a woman has another pregnancy.
Dr. Speron performs the surgery as an outpatient on a same-day basis. After the 45 minute procedure, patients recover from general anesthesia for a few hours, and then usually go home the same day. Most women are back at work within a week, avoid heavy lifting for two weeks, and are back to normal activity within two-four weeks. If they go on to have another child, the majority of women who undergo breast augmentation surgery can usually still breastfeed once again.
The "tummy tuck" is the second most popular procedure new mothers seek. During pregnancy some women's' abdomens become stretched then deflated. The muscles on each side of the abdominal wall have become permanently wrenched apart, often by several inches. The result is a protruding, often crinkled pouch of skin and tissue. The condition makes it painful for some women to move, especially to get out of bed in the morning to exercise, or to pick up their young children. Most frustrating for new moms is that no amount of sit-ups will make their pouch go away. "In fact," says Dr. Speron, "those crunches can make the problem worse. By increasing their underlying muscle tone, the skin above becomes that much looser.
The treatment is a "tummy tuck" (formally known as an abdominoplasty). Dr. Speron makes a horizontal incision below the naval. Then he repairs, tightens, and sutures the weakened abdominal muscles back to meet at the abdomen's midline. In the process, the surgeon removes any accumulated excess fat, tissue, and skin. The recovery is easier than that from a C-section or hysterectomy. After two weeks women can return to a sedentary job, resuming normal activities typically takes another two weeks.
Dr. Speron says, "Most women love this procedure because it keeps their stomachs flat if they maintain their nutrition and exercise habits. The scar is long but they can hide it so you can't even see it in a bathing suit."
The plastic surgeon, though, says women might want to wait on a tummy tuck until they know they're done having children. "And of course," he adds, during pregnancy we tell women to avoid any fillers or elective procedures that might harm their unborn child."
"However, despite all the current speculation about Kim Kardashian, the fact is here in Chicago many younger women in her position are opting for plastic surgery every day."