Like so many moms, Lauren Bays is battling the baby weight. The Atlanta, GA, mother-of-three gets up at dawn to squeeze in a workout five days a week.
After an hour of exercising, she gets her three girls, who range in age from 20 months to seven years old, ready for their day.
Taking care of her family while working full time, Bays does her best to eat right, too.
"I usually grab some kind of salad," said Bays. "I make some bad choices some days, but for the most part I try to make a good choice."
After giving birth to her girls, each via c-section, she noticed that her body was not bouncing back to its pre-baby days, even though she felt she was doing all the right things.
"I was definitely overweight, definitely not where I wanted to be, and it just seemed like it was harder to get back where I was," Bays said.
Workouts and eating well weren't changing her stomach from lumpy to smooth, and after breastfeeding three children, she had sagging breasts.
"You know, everybody's got their own insecurities, but not to the point where you don't want to have your picture taken with your kids because you're just kind of feeling gross or feeling ugly," said Bays.
Sick of feeling bad about herself, Bays decided it was time for a more drastic remedy: She opted for a new trend in plastic surgery known as the "mommy makeover."
"The concept of the mommy makeover is we're fixing from here to here," said Bays' surgeon,Dr. Diane Alexander of Artisan Plastic Surgery in Atlanta, pointing from her breasts to her hips. "We're fixing the breasts, the belly. Occasionally, women want their muffin top fixed. But the core of it is doing the breasts and the belly together. This is an extremely common procedure. I would say it's the No. 1 thing we do."
Women across the country are getting plastic surgery to erase the marks of child-bearing, but it comes at a cost: At least four hours of invasive surgery, a minimum week of post-op bed-rest, and an average $16,000 price tag.
For Bays, her "mommy makeover," and its visible results, pictured here in the before-and-after, is an investment in her happiness.
"I am relatively young -- I am 38; I have a lot of good years left -- so I think it's worth it," Bays said. "I just feel so much better about myself. I guess I didn't realize effort went into wearing tunics all the time or, you know, just trying to camouflage that part that I didn't like. I didn't realize how nice it is to just throw on a t-shirt and not think, 'Oh, is my stomach sticking out?' or, 'My chest doesn't look perky.'"
Plastic Surgeon Reveals 6 Low-Cost Ways to Look Better
Not every woman is interested in having a plastic surgery mommy makeover. However, any woman who is interested and dedicated can make significant improvements to their physical appearance.
Alexander, the certified plastic surgeon in Atlanta, recommends these seven tips for inexpensive ways to begin your own makeover without surgery.
Nutrition and Diet: We all know this. We are what we eat. The importance of a healthy diet and portion control cannot be over-emphasized. Keeping a journal of your daily intake is a really good way to see what you are consuming and how to improve your diet. If you are not knowledgeable about nutrition, you can see a nutrition counselor who can help set guidelines for you. Lifestyle coaches will also review your diet and help guide you.
Exercise: This is another piece of the equation that we all know, but it is hard to coordinate exercise with work, family, children, household duties and community service. It doesn't seem like there is possibly enough time in the day, but exercise needs to be part of your weekly routine. Find something that you like to do so you can stick with it. Start slow and be patient. Some possibilities include joining a club or hiring a personal trainer, trying a DVD that will allow you to work out at home or signing up for a group training class to keep you motivated, downloading an app or using a computer program to help you set goals and track your progress, or trying something more low-impact like yoga or Pilates to help your mind while you tone your body.
The Right Bra: Getting fitted for the right bra, whether push-up or padded, can make a huge difference in how you look in your clothes.
The Right Undergarments: Spanx really do work!
Quick Fixes: In-office procedures like Botox and fillers can rejuvenate the face and make you look and feel younger and more rested. These are simple and safe procedures that are performed in the office and can make such a difference in your appearance.
Skin Care: Find a good dermatologist, plastic surgeon or aesthetician who can help design a good skin care program for you. This obviously will include no smoking, staying out of the sun and sunscreen. Laser treatment, microdermabrasion, facial peels are some of the effective tools to help rejuvenate the face.
Personal Shopper: Finding the right clothes that flatter your figure can make a huge difference.