Tracy S. has always been proud of her appearance.
The 36-year-old Kanata resident goes to the gym regularly, watches her food intake – eating a mostly plant-based diet, and very little bread and junk food – and tries to get enough rest. But after three children, “things weren’t bouncing back as nicely as they were,” she says.
Tracy, who spoke to Parenting Times under the condition that her last name not be used, started feeling self-conscious about the way she looked, even in front of her husband, who she says “is very supportive of me no matter what I look like.
“To put it bluntly, my breasts were sagging after years of breastfeeding, and the skin on my stomach was just not bouncing back after the pregnancies,” she says. “Don’t get me wrong, my kids are worth all of it, and I know my body is going to reflect that. But I’m still young. I’d look in the mirror and say, ‘this isn’t who I am.’”
She started researching “mommy makeovers” – which include liposuction, tummy tucks, breast lifts, and arm lifts – and two years ago, with the support of her husband, she had a tummy tuck and a breast lift in Toronto.
Former Ottawa resident Jen McKay had non-surgical cosmetic procedures done – she’d had lip fillers in her late 20s, and now that she is in her 30s, botox.
“I think it’s getting more common,” says the 38-year-old mother of two. “I don’t think it’s a big deal. If it makes you feel great about yourself, I think it’s worth it.”
Ottawa cosmetic and reconstructive facial plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist Dr. Peter Brownrigg says that non-surgical procedures – like injectable fillers that can erase fine lines, add facial volume that is lost during the aging process, fill in creases and scars, and augment the lips, cheeks or chin; and botox, which blocks the nerve impulses to the facial muscles that cause wrinkles – are very common. “These are the most commonly done procedures in North America,” says Brownrigg, who has been focusing exclusively on facial plastic surgery since 1984. In addition to non-surgical procedures, Brownrigg also performs surgical procedures including facelift, rhinoplasty, brow lift, eyelid surgery and facial implants.
Women like McKay are in good company. Brownrigg estimates that 60 per cent of patients are female, and range in age from 16 to 80, depending on the procedure. Eighty per cent of the work that Brownrigg does is cosmetic or aesthetic, and the remaining 20 percent is functional.
Brownrigg sees firsthand the positive impact that these procedures have on women’s self-esteem.
When the patient looks in the mirror, and the person in the reflection looks tired and dragged down, there’s a dissonance because that’s not how they feel, he says. But when a person likes they way they look in the mirror, “she’s a new person because she’s happier,” he says of his typical patient. “I can’t change their life and surgery and botox are not going to change their life, but it changes their outlook,” he says.
That’s how Tracy feels. “It gave me a little boost,” she says. “I think any little lift – no pun intended – that moms can get is wonderful, whether it’s from a tummy tuck, a weekend at the spa or new clothes. For everyone, it’s something different, and if you want to make yourself happy, more power to you.”