Skip to main navigation

The Mommy Makeover: Part 1 – An Interview with the Southern Marin Mothers’ Club

I was recently interviewed by the medical writer for the Southern Marin Mothers’ Club about the “Mommy Makeover.” I’ve included an excerpt of the feature below. The article was featured in the organization’s September newsletter and is full of useful and practical information.  You’ll find link to Part 2 of this article at the bottom of the page.

Feeling Good and Looking Good: Part 1
Mommy Makeover Surgery:  A conversation with plastic surgeon, Dr. Carolyn Chang

Being pregnant and becoming a mom are among the greatest experiences in life –however for many mom’s, the toll pregnancy takes on their bodies is a badge that they don’t want to wear forever.  With the growing trend among mom’s to seek “mommy makeover” surgery, I spoke to San Francisco’s mommy makeover expert Dr. Carolyn Chang, a leading plastic surgeon and Vice Chair of Plastic Surgery at California Pacific Hospital, to understand more about why moms are having surgery, what they’re having done, and what considerations a mom should have before embarking on surgery.

What’s behind the recent trend of “mommy makeovers”?
Many women are waiting longer to have children, and their bodies are simply not able to snap back, particularly if they have had several pregnancies or multiples, which can really take a toll on the belly.  I also think that because of the increased exposure of plastic surgery in the popular media, more women are aware of it as a possibility to explore.

Who do you believe is the ideal candidate for mommy makeover surgery?
Any mother who is feeling self conscious about her body after pregnancy is a candidate, however surgery should only be reserved for those who have such profound changes that diet and exercise cannot reverse.  And she should never contemplate surgery unless she is at a stable, healthy, and sustainable weight.

What are the most common types of surgery that moms are getting?
A mommy makeover surgery usually combines some type of body contouring like a tummy tuck or liposuction with breast surgery to bring the body back to pre pregnancy shape.  As a result of pregnancy over stretching of the abdominal tissues can cause separation of the abdominal muscles that support the abdominal wall.  The result may make a woman look and feel like she is falling out” in the front.  Some patients tell me that people still ask them if they are pregnant years after they have delivered!

Many mom’s also notice that their breasts have changed after their pregnancies and breast feeding — most often that they have shrunk and sagged.  In other cases, they have stayed persistently too large and heavy.  Women who experience any of these symptoms in their breasts or abdomen are usually candidates for a mommy makeover.

(Click here for Part 2 of The Mommy Makeover article)

smmcLogo For more information on the Southern Marin Mothers’ Club visit:

Dr. Carolyn Chang, San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

The Mommy Makeover: Part 2 – An Interview with the Southern Marin Mothers’ Club

My Mommy Makeover conversation with the Southern Marin Mothers Club continues below.

(Click here to read Part 1 of the Mommy Makeover article)

Feeling Good and Looking Good: Part 2
Mommy Makeover Surgery:  A conversation with plastic surgeon, Dr. Carolyn Chang

Can you describe the procedures that most women are including in a mommy makeover?

  • Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty)
    The tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is the mainstay of the mommy makeover.  This procedure is designed to tighten the abdominal wall by repairing and realigning the abdominal muscles and removing any excess skin and fat that may have persisted after pregnancy.  The scar that is created for this procedure most often extends hip to hip.  This scar can be customized in its position, so it can easily be hidden under most bikini bottoms.  Patients are often worried that this type of surgery is especially hard to recover from.  I find that using a temporary implantable pain pump really helps to minimize the discomfort after surgery.

What’s important about this procedure is my patients not only look better afterwards, but they often feel better as well, because the abdominal muscles are realigned, the back is stabilized and straightened, thereby relieving the lower back pain that a lot of mothers feel.

  • Liposuction
    The general rule of thumb is that the places where your body collected fat before you had children will be the places where it will continue to deposit afterwards — and often to an even larger degree.  A common request among moms is to reduce the love handles, also called the flanks, through liposuction in conjunction with a tummy tuck.  In this way, the entire torso area can be slimmed and sculpted.  Other common areas that respond well to liposuction include the outer and inner thighs and the upper arms.
  • Breast Augmentation
    During pregnancy, the breasts engorge due to hormonal changes in preparation for breast feeding.  Afterwards, as the milk production diminishes, many women actually notice that their breasts become even smaller than they were pre-pregnancy.  This is because the breast tissue actually shrinks.  Breast augmentation is a procedure that uses silicone or saline breast implants to enlarge the breast tissue again and restore that youthful fullness.
  • Breast Lift (mastopexy)
    For some women, the swelling of the breasts results in overstretching of the skin, and afterwards, sagging breasts.  Implants can help in some of these cases. But in the most severe, the nipple position is so low on the chest that an implant alone cannot fix the problem.  For these mothers a breast lift, or mastopexy, is the answer.  A mastopexy re-centers the nipple on the breast mound and ‘lifts” the entire breast so that it is rounder in shape again.  A mastopexy can be performed alone or with an augmentation.

There are many ways to perform a mastopexy, and unfortunately, all result in some external scarring.  To minimize this, my preferred technique is that of a shorter lollipop scar.

  • Breast Reduction
    For those mothers whose breast tissue actually got larger after pregnancy, a breast reduction is available to relieve the weight and reshape the breasts to a more youthful contour.  Like the mastopexy, my preferred method when possible is through the shorter lollipop type scar, as opposed to the old-fashioned anchor type scar.  Not only is the scar shorter with the lollipop technique, but the shape tends to be rounder and perkier.

Beyond questions specific to surgery, what are the most common questions that mothers ask you about a mommy makeover?

How much time will I need for recovery?
Depending upon the selected procedures, recovery generally takes about a week or two.  I insist that my mothers get reliable help for their children during this time period.  I want them to take the time to rest and recover.  Mothers can feel guilty about taking time away from their children, but they shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of doing something for themselves as well.

How do I explain this to my children?
Mothers with young children are afraid of frightening them, and mothers with older children, particularly girls, are afraid of encouraging unhealthy body image issues.  In general, I have found that reassurance without going into too much detail works well with the younger children, and a frank conversation works with the older children.  A mommy makeover is reconstructive in nature, so it is not difficult to explain the motivations to have it done to a teenager.

When is the right time to have surgery?
My response is always the same, “It’s when you’re ready.”  Which means you have worked as hard as you can to get your body back into shape naturally. It also means that you are mentally ready and 100 percent committed to having a procedure.  You should have planned this carefully with your family to insure that they are onboard.  And finally you should do your homework to seek referrals to plastic surgeons from your doctor and word of mouth referrals from family and friends, and select a board- certified plastic surgeon with whom you are confident.

A little trepidation is normal, however being prepared will insure that you will have a successful result and recovery, and a more satisfying overall experience.


For more information on the Southern Marin Mothers’ Club visit:

Dr. Carolyn Chang, San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

Another Anti-Aging Recipe From Chef Elizabeth Howes

My friend and personal chef, Elizabeth Howes, has done it again! She has provided us with yet another delicious recipe full of wonderful antioxidants.

As we discussed in an earlier post, foods that contain antioxidants such as beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, and Vitamins A, C, and E can dramatically boost skin health and help ward off signs of aging from the inside out.

Take some time this week to indulge in the recipe below, and watch your skin glow… Enjoy!

Roasted Organic Beets and Carrots with Ras el Hanout Vinaigrette, Meyer Lemon Chickpea Purée and Grilled Whole Grain Naan


Yield: Makes 6-8 appetizer servings | active time: 30 minutes | total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


  • 8 organic beets (red and golden), cleaned, trimmed
  • 6 medium organic carrots, cleaned, peeled and trimmed, and cut into wedges
  • 2-3 medium whole grain naan, grilled on a grill pan or outdoor grill until crisp
  • Handful Marcona or slivered almonds


  • 1 ½ tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout*
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Meyer Lemon Chickpea Purée

  • 2 cans organic garbanzo beans (or 4 cups fresh)
  • Juice of two organic Meyer lemons, zest of one
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup filtered water, if needed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wrap red beets and golden beets in foil separately so the colors don’t run together.  Place on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes, or until fork tender.  Toss the carrots in olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, and roast in an uncovered glass baking dish for 15-20 minutes, tossing once, until fork tender.  Let all vegetables cool.

In a glass bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, ras el hanout, sea salt, and pepper.  Whisk in olive oil until vinaigrette is emulsified.

For purée, place all ingredients except olive oil and water in a food processor.  Pulse until mixture is well-combined.  With motor running, drizzle in olive oil slowly.  If mixture is too thick, add water slowly until smooth.

Toss vegetables with some of the vinaigrette in separate bowls and arrange on a large platter, topping with almonds.  Place purée in a glass bowl and garnish with lemon zest and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired.  Cut grilled naan into wedges and place next to chickpea purée.

Antioxidant Profile
This fun dish covers so many antioxidant bases in one delicious bite.  The carrots and beets are high in vitamins A and C and beta-carotene.  The citrus also contains high levels of vitamin C.  In general, vitamin C is critical for collagen synthesis, and all anti-oxidants help to eliminate free radicals which can lead to wrinkles and skin damage.  Vitamin E is found in the chickpeas, almonds, and whole grain naan.  It is vital in protecting skin cells from UV light, pollution, and other elements that produce cell damaging free radicals.  If that’s not enough, it also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

In addition, many of the spices found in ras el hanout, including clove, cinnamon, and turmeric, contain powerful antioxidants that can protect against skin cell damage.

*Ras el hanout is a popular blend of herbs and spices that is used across the Middle East and North Africa. The name means “head of the shop” in Arabic, and refers to a mixture of the best spices a seller has to offer.  Generally, it consists of some combination of pepper, cardamom, mace, cayenne, fennel, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, lavender, and dried rosebuds.  It can be found at specialty grocers or spice shops.

SL Logo

For more information about Elizabeth and Saffron Lane, please visit

Dr. Carolyn Chang, San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

Antioxidants: A Recipe for Anti-Aging

These days it seems that anti-aging antioxidants are in everything from serums and night creams to shampoo and cellulite lotions. And that’s great. But how about preventing the signs of aging from the inside out? I recently sat down with my personal chef, The Next Food Network Star’s Elizabeth Howes, owner of Saffron Lane boutique catering, to put together a few anti-aging appetizers for summertime entertaining. 

The antioxidant substances in foods that contain beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, and Vitamins A, C, and E can dramatically boost skin health, providing that much sought after youthful glow naturally. 

Beta-carotene – protects the skin cell membranes and stimulates the growth of new skin cells.  Sources:  carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and cantaloupe.

Lutein – increases skin hydration, elasticity, and skin lipid concentration.  Sources:  carrots, squash and other orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, arugula and watercress.

Lycopene – reduces skin wrinkling, redness, and inflammation.  Sources:  tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, persimmons, apricots.

Selenium – provides a natural glow to skin and has been linked to a 60% reduction in skin cancer.  Sources:  watercress, seafood, eggs, chicken.

Vitamin A – known to rejuvenate the skin and improve overall structure, tone, and quality.  Sources:  peaches, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, apricots, broccoli.

Vitamin C – very important in collagen production and overall skin health.  Sources:  tomatoes, citrus fruits, strawberries, green peppers.

Vitamin Evital in protecting skin cells from UV light, pollution, and other elements that produce cell damaging free radicals.  It also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  Sources:  whole grains, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables.

Here is one of Elizabeth’s low-calorie, but utterly delicious, appetizer recipes to kick off that alluring glow, while enjoying the last cherished days of summer with good friends. Stay tuned for more great anti-aging recipes!

Organic Peach, Cucumber & Golden Tomato Gazpacho
Peach Gazpacho

Yield:  Makes 8-10 appetizer servings | active time:  20 minutes | total time:  45 minutes


  • 2 cups pitted and chopped organic peaches
  • 2 cups chopped ripe organic tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped organic English cucumber
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1 handful organic basil, torn
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup filtered water

In a food processor, place all ingredients except the water and pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped.  Add water and pulse a couple times again until the gazpacho is blended but still a little chunky.  Place in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let refrigerate for 20-25 minutes, or until well chilled.  Serve immediately in small glasses or bowls.  Garnish with diced peach and a cucumber round, if desired.

Antioxidant Profile
This is an antioxidant powerhouse loaded with vitamin A and C from tomatoes and peaches and a special bioflavonoid found in cucumbers.  It also contains a great deal of lycopene and allium compounds.  This is a true collagen producer (and also low in calories), so don’t be shy about seconds!

SL Logo 2008 copy

For more information about Elizabeth and Saffron Lane, please visit

Dr. Carolyn Chang, San Francisco Plastic Surgeon


Mascara – A Thing of the Past?! Introducing Latisse.

Latisse: Before and After

Latisse: Before and After

We’ve all seen the ads. Enter the beautiful Brooke Shields batting incredibly lush lashes below her perfectly defined signature brows.  She uses Latisse.  The buzz around this product is incredible, and I’m sure you have questions about what it is and why it works.

Latisse was recently released by Allergan and contains the active ingredient, Bimatoprost (Lumigan). This drug was initially intended to treat glaucoma, an eye disease.   It was noted that patients who received this medication reported increased eyelash growth as a side effect, and a new application was born.

Latisse goes on like eyeliner. You apply a drop to a disposable applicator and spread it across the base of the upper lashes. It must be used daily to see results.  The product gradually enhances the eyelashes by prolonging their growth cycle. The end result is thicker, longer lashes. There will be noticeable improvement within four weeks, with fullest benefit after 16 weeks. After the 16 weeks, the manufacturer recommends applying the product every couple of days in order to maintain length and fullness.

Rare potential side effects such as a darkening of eyelid skin and a possible increase in the brown pigmentation of the colored part of the eye may occur.  Other possible side effects include itching, redness, dryness, and irritation of the eye or surrounding eyelid skin where Latisse is applied.

Latisse is available at medical offices, including ours, and it is wise to consult with your physician as to whether you are a good candidate for it.  Run, don’t walk; it’s going fast, and you’ll have to fight my office girls for it!

Dr. Carolyn Chang, San Francisco Plastic Surgeon