BY MARTIE EMORY
Women are reminded daily that taking care of themselves is the right thing to do.
This may involve physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and renewal, and for some, it may entail considerations for ‘rejuvenating’ surgical procedures such as the “Mommy Makeover.”
A mentor and leader in his field with over 20 years of experience, Dr. Adam J. Katz, is Director of the Plastic Surgery Research Laboratory at Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Professor of Plastic Reconstructive Surgery. As he navigates a variety of patient scenarios every day, Dr. Katz points to the “Mommy Makeover” as one of his more popular requests, but is quick to stress those procedures are not one size fits all!
“After realizing the wear and tear of pregnancy and then breastfeeding, some women start to consider their options for surgical treatment of physical changes that may become more noticeable with time,” he explains. In short, he says these moms want to reclaim their earlier days of youth! Although there is no specific age that is best for having a Mommy Makeover, an important consideration is whether a woman is planning on having additional children or not. Long-lasting surgical changes are most likely to occur when a woman has no further plans to become pregnant, and when she has committed to positive lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and habitual exercise.
An initial consultation with Dr. Katz begins with identifying a patient’s specific concerns and aligning them with one or more procedures from a list of varied possibilities. Patient safety is always the first and foremost consideration. Whether a woman has questions and concerns about breast enlargement or lifting, loose or excess skin on the abdomen or thighs, or maybe a bulging abdomen without loose skin, Dr. Katz thoroughly discusses the details of each potential procedure, as well as the risks associated with each. He also discusses reasonable expectations for downtime and recovery.
It’s important to both hear and understand a patient’s concerns, as well as perform a thorough examination, in order to plan the right treatment, he explains. For example, sometimes a woman might come in thinking she wants her breasts enlarged, but really what is best for her is a lift procedure. They are two very different operations, and it is important for the patient to understand these differences.
“Sharing and explaining this type of information with a patient is an important part of what I do,” he says. “For most procedures, initial recovery time is about two weeks. By four weeks, most can resume their work schedule and a moderate level of activity, and in six weeks, they can be back to their full exercise routine.”
He also finds many patients have a pre-conception that there are fewer risks associated with “cosmetic” surgery.
“Surgery is surgery,” he explains. “There’s also a misconception there are no scars afterward – but there is always a tradeoff when it comes to scarring.”
Again, for all procedures, the patient’s overall health and safety is the number one consideration on whether or not to proceed.
“Not everyone is a candidate for elective surgery,” says Dr. Katz.
Tummy tucks are typical requests after massive weight loss, and the subject can be a sensitive one. A patient may have worked hard and gathered the courage and determination to come in for an evaluation and to discuss the process, but this does not mean surgery will be offered. All the factors must align – patient safety, patient objectives and expectations, technical considerations, and more. In short, the potential benefit(s) must outweigh the potential risks.
After nearly 20 years of professional practice, Dr. Katz continues to derive meaning and gratification from the relationships he develops with his patients.
“I value the trust patients put in me, and I consider it a privilege to take part in their care,” he says. “Plastic surgery is unique because it is often hard to quantify the positive impact it may have on a patient. Doing a breast lift, breast enlargement, or abdominoplasty can be life-changing, but it’s a bit harder to measure the impact it has on a patient’s life – such as their confidence, identity, or self-assurance – compared to a heart surgeon, for example, whose work has a clear-cut and very measurable effect on someone’s life and activity. But our work can be life-changing also, just on different levels, and being part of empowering women is extremely rewarding.”
Dr. Katz is a graduate of Duke University and the University of Michigan Medical School and completed plastic surgery training at the University of Pittsburgh. He is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and speaks internationally on a variety of topics related to body contour surgery, breast reconstruction, the science of adipose (fat) tissue, and the potential of regenerative medicine.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Katz, call 336-716-4171 or schedule an appointment online at wakehealth.edu. Offices are located at Wake Forest Baptist Health, Medical Center Boulevard, 5th floor, in Winston-Salem, NC.