Repost of a wonderful article by a Mommy Makeover patient!

Posted by admin on Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This is a WONDERFUL article written by a woman who has had a "Mommy Makeover" surgery.  

Although I wish I could boast about this being MY patient, it is not.  She is an excellent writer and I feel she sums up her experience in a lighthearted and sincere manner. 

However, I truly believe that anyone considering this type of surgery could benefit from reading this in order to help prepare for their experience!

Karen M. Horton, M.D., M.Sc., F.R.C.S.C.

10 Things I wish I'd known before a Mommy Makeover

10 Things I wish I'd  known before a Mommy Makeover After getting a mommy makeover, I came up with a top 10 list of things I wish I knew ahead of time!

1. Guilty as charged.

As most moms do, I tend to put everyone else first. A lot of times that is why women tend to feel like they have lost their identities. It’s hard to spend that much money on yourself, especially for aesthetic reasons. It seems okay to spend it on a car or a trip, but for some reason the thought of spending that money on your body is frowned upon. To some that may seem vain or boastful. For me it was about a self confidence that I had yet to achieve, a love of self that I have longed for my entire life. When I look in the mirror I like what I see now. When I feel good about myself…inside and out…I am a better woman, a better wife, and a better mom. It is absolutely normal to feel guilty about spending money on a mommy makeover and it is okay to finally put yourself first. It is the best money I have ever spent…just ask my family.

2. What to tell the kids.

This was a big one for me. I am a mom of two young girls (5 and 2). I grew up with a horrible body image and the last thing I wanted was to implement that to my daughters. I was concerned about what to tell the oldest, the two-year-old really didn’t understand. I thought about saying, “Well, you and your sister ruined my body while I was pregnant with you both.” But then I thought maybe that was too harsh. (Note the sarcasm). I have tried really hard not to down myself in front of them, calling myself too fat, or commenting on my huge belly. They see me exercise and make healthy choices, but I didn’t want them to know that I didn’t like my body. So I tried to keep it simple. The day before surgery I told my oldest daughter that I was going to have an operation to fix my tummy (I didn’t go into the whole booby thing). She of coursed asked why, I told her because the doctor said so. I was prepared for more questions but she seemed satisfied with that. I was informed by the ladies on this site that the best thing to do with boys, if they are older, is tell them you are having female surgery. They will shut right up and have no more questions. Nothing is more embarrassing than talking female issues with your mom.

3. I’m a big girl now.

Most mommy makeovers include lipo and a tummy tuck. Which probably means you will be lucky enough to wear a skin-tight crotchless compression garment. I, as most women, chose to wear panties over this outfit so I didn’t feel as it all my “stuff” was being squished out. (Think of baboons….ewww, or don’t.) Now, the tricky part here is the first couple of days after surgery. You will spend quite a bit of time on the toilet the first time you try to pee, similar to what it is like after giving birth. After a couple tries, it gets better. However, when you are taking pain medication and muscle relaxers on a regular basis, your mind may be fuzzy a bit. I had the great luck of forgetting I had those panties on and peeing straight through them…twice. Yes, not once, but twice. I was starting to think I might have to revert back to diapers but I graduated and learned how to use the potty like a big girl. Also, you will probably not poop for several days at first, so expect a good 3-5 days worth of poop on your first time. With that being said, consider pulling your garment down for that endeavor. The back to front wiping thing can be tricky in that thing. I’m just saying, not that it happened or anything…..I’m just saying…okay…next subject please.

4. Hello Dolly!

If you decide to get implants please remember that objects may appear larger than they actually are. When I first took a glance at my new girls, I thought “Holy Mary Mother of God, what have I done?!” I looked like Dolly Parton, or for younger ones, Beth from Dog the Bounty Hunter. This is NOT your final look. Please don’t freak out. The swelling takes a while to go down and for the implants to “drop” into place. After about a week your PS will probably give you the go ahead to start massaging them. Massaging the implants will help them soften up and find their final resting place. Your significant other with love this, and surprisingly, so will you. I was shocked to find how much I actually liked touching my own breasts. It sounds perverted, I know, but if you are used to your “ladies” hanging out down by your belly, then you will see how nice it is to hold them, let go, and be fascinated that they no longer fall down so low anymore. I can now understand why men are always holding onto their own “boys”. They are proud of them. I have caught myself with one hand on the remote and the other on one of my breasts. So relax, and let the boobs fall where they may.

5. Phantom of the itch.

I knew going into the tummy tuck part of the mommy makeover that my belly would be numb. It is a freaky and strange feeling. It is almost like you are rubbing on someone else’s tummy. I had heard before about people who have had an arm or leg amputated and still felt the feeling of it being there, the phantom limb syndrome. I was not prepared for that with my belly. Every now and then, I will get an itch, go to scratch it, and realize it is where my belly is numb. Scratching a numb belly doesn’t relieve the itch. Simple right? Well I have a masters degree and it took several times scratching before I got that one.

6. Sit. Stay. Good girl.

Once again, most mommy makeovers include a tummy tuck. This is a huge procedure and as most of you have surely read, it is a good idea to take off as much time as possible from your job. I was fortunate enough to take 2 weeks off from my PAID position. I capitalize paid, because as all moms know, the mom position is considered a “non for profit” position. Rarely do we moms put in a request for vacation from that position, so therefore we tend to work every day of the year, even if we are taking a vacation from our “paid jobs”. As most moms, I am an expert at multitasking. It was killing me to sit there and not do anything. The first 3 days or so you have no choice, your body will not allow it. I will admit that I probably did more than I should have. Looking back, I wish I would have taken more advantage of the quiet time and rested and relaxed. I was convinced that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done, and it wouldn’t get done right. I was wrong. Trust your loved ones. My husband was amazing. He became Mr. Mom and was pretty darn good at it. I have never given him enough credit in that department. Granted, it may have not been done the way I do it, but he stepped up and took charge. And if you don’t have someone doing those household chores….so what. Just take this time for yourself and give your body a chance to heal.

7. All aboard...the Bi-Polar Express.

This is a BIG one. Having your body cut upon, stitched up, and hung up to dry is traumatic. Throw a few pain meds into the mix and you will turn into an emotional tornado. I was known to go from ecstatic to tears in 6.9 seconds flat. Top that!! Be aware that this will be an issue, and emotions will be crazy. Explain this to your loved ones and the people caring for you so they don’t call the men in white coats with the strait jackets. When I felt teary, I would cry. It’s ok, you have a permit to go crazy, take advantage of it. When I was feeling really down and out, I typically would go to bed and nap it off. Use this site. is full of women who are going through the same thing. Use them to lean on and talk to. The ladies I have met on here have been A HUGE support to me and I couldn’t have gotten through this without them. Well, I would have, but I would have probably been divorced and sitting in a mental institution. Thanks Ladies!!!

8. Let's get physical.

Most people who are looking into plastic surgery are doing so because exercise has not been effective on certain areas of the body. There are only so many chest flies one can do before you realize they won’t make your boobies stand up and say hello. However, there are some who think this is the alternative to diet and exercise. If that is you….you are wrong. I truly believe my fitness level aided in my recovery time. And I know that I will have to work twice as hard to keep my new body looking tip top. The more active and healthy you are before surgery, the better your recovery will be. You will heal faster, feel better sooner, and be back to the gym before you know it. As you heal, stay away from processed and salty foods, soda, and fried foods. You will swell like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and be so uncomfortable. When your doctor says its okay, get back into exercising and let your body lead the way. It will tell you what is too much and when to quit.

9. Don't be naive: do the research.

When I decide to do something I go full speed, head first. In this case, you need to know what you are getting into. When I began this journey, I had no idea that there was a difference between a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and a Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon. Now, I will not step into the argument of who is more qualified; just know who you are dealing with. Ask around; find people who have used him/her. The doctor will give you referrals, but let’s face it; they are not stupid enough to give you someone who is unhappy with their work. If you know anyone who has had plastic surgery get as much info from them as possible. There will always be someone who is unhappy with a certain PS or procedure they have had done. But there is a HUGE difference between a “well, I just didn’t like his/her bedside manner” or “I just didn’t see a huge difference in my lipo” and the “he completely disfigured me”. Be wary of the flashy salesman. Go with your gut and ask LOTS of questions. The good ones will sit with you and take as much time as needed.

10. Avoid the Debbie Downers.

We all know one….the Debbie Downers, the buzz kill. And most of us will have to deal with a few after surgery. It is really hard when you feel that you don’t have the support from your loved ones. The choice to have a mommy makeover is strictly yours and hopefully you are doing this for you and only you. I have had a few family members of mine that I surprisingly haven’t received support from. It is hurtful, especially since they saw me struggle with my weight and self esteem issues for years. A lot of people will see it as a “waste of money”. I started feeling the need to explain my reasoning for having the surgery. I wanted them to know that it was not out of vanity, or selfishness. But remember the old saying “Those convinced against their will, are of the same opinion still.” It really doesn’t matter. As much as I wanted them to hear me out and understand my reasoning, they won’t. If they love you, they will keep their negative comments to themselves and support you no matter what. But you may have those who love you yet still feel the need to give their opinion even when not asked. My response to those people would be a nod and a smile. (Believe me, I know it’s hard) If you want, throw in a “please keep your negative comments to yourself” or a “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”. But my advice is to steer clear of the “screw you” sort of comment. It is just not worth it. As long as you know why you are doing this that is all you need. For me, being able to look in the mirror, smile and for the first time in my life, love what I see…well that is priceless to me. And for those who can’t see past the money or their opinions, they are missing out on watching someone they love transforming into the person they have always dreamed of being.

For more information or to ask questions directly about Mommy Makeover surgery, visit my website!  
More aboutRepost of a wonderful article by a Mommy Makeover patient!

Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy: The Ultimate Aesthetic in Breast Reconstruction

Posted by admin on Friday, November 26, 2010

Over the last 10 years, there has been an increasing awareness among General/Breast Surgeons that in many cases, it is not necessary to remove the breast skin along the breast tissue. This is called NIPPLE-SPARING MASTECTOMY (NSM):

Advantages of the NSM and immediate reconstruction technique:
  1. It is a single-stage technique with only one general anesthetic in the majority of cases
  2. There are no visible scars on the breast, unless later mastopexy ("breast lift") is desired or needed
  3. It is performed using an adjustable permanent implant, not a tissue expander, OR a flap reconstruction
  4. The implant or flap is placed over the muscle to avoid animation ("motion") deformities when the pectoralis major muscle flexes
  5. The recovery is shorter and involves significantly less pain than traditional two-stage expander-implant breast reconstruction
  6. This is an oncologically safe, unique mastectomy technique which cores out the nipple on the involved side for additional Pathological tissue analysis
  7. In some cases, it is possible to perform a nipple lift (mastopexy) at the same time as the mastectomy and reconstruction
  8. This technique is the simplest, quickest, most aesthetically pleasing technique for women who are considering prophylactic mastectomy for genetic risk.
  9. There is no delay of radiation or chemotherapy due to a speedy recovery and extremely few wound healing problems

The NSM technique has taken years to refine, but we believe it is the simplest and most aesthetic single-stage implant reconstruction. It is also being used in our practice with the DIEP flap and other microsurgical flaps such as the inner thigh (TUG) flap.
NSM is ideal for women who are carriers of the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene and other women with a strong family history of breast cancer who are seeking prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction. It is also appropriate for women with DCIS and invasive cancer that is at least 2 cm away from the nipple.

For those women who have tumors which are very large, very aggressive, or involving the nipple, single stage reconstruction removing the nipple is still available. This is also done over the muscle in our practice.
NSM is performed through an incision hidden under the breast, in the breast fold ("inframammary fold"), limiting the scar.  Following mastectomy, in the same operation, reconstruction is performed using either an implant or a flap. 

Read about my patient Desdemonia's experience with this procedure!

If an implant is placed, it is located in the exact same space that the breast was, on top of the pectoralis major muscle.  A permanent, adjustable implant is used.  It is inflated approximately 60%-80% of the way at the time of surgery; only one or two additional inflations are required in the office in the 1-2 week period following surgery.  No "expansion" of the breast skin is needed, as the implant is not used to stretch the skin but is used to "fill out the space".  The great thing about these types of implant is that the woman undergoing the procedure is empowered to make the final decision about her desired implant size, not the surgeon!

A flap placed for reconstruction provides the ultimate soft, warm, living tissue reconstruction that has none of the risks and potential complications of implants.  

Please visit our website for more information.
More aboutNipple-Sparing Mastectomy: The Ultimate Aesthetic in Breast Reconstruction


Posted by admin on Saturday, October 9, 2010

I have been asked to speak at a free seminar for young women (age 40 or younger at their diagnosis) affected by breast cancer.

I will be discussing the latest in breast reconstruction option, including single-stage breast reconstruction and microsurgical techniques such as the DIEP flap, the SIEA flap and the TUG (inner thigh) flap: 

A few of my patients will be invited to also be there to share their personal stories about their reconstruction experience.

To RSVP, contact and visit for more information on my practice.

Hope to see you there!

Mommy Makover surgery requires at least 6 weeks for a full physical recovery

Posted by admin on Monday, August 23, 2010

After any major surgery such as a Mommy Makeover, you need to give yourself the time needed for complete physical recovery.

In most instances, a Mommy Makover includes a breast lift/implants (or breast reduction), a tummy tuck and/or liposuction.

For each of these surgeries individually, I counsel my patients to take 6 weeks off aggressive physical activity such as exercise, and to take at least 2-3 weeks off work, longer if they can!  For combined procedures, the effects can be cumulative and recovery can take a little longer. 

Becoming too active immediately after surgery can increase the risk of complications such as hematoma (bleeding), wound healing problems, increased bruising and pain!  You may also have drains, that require special care and attention until they are removed.  

When at home, rest as much as possible and have friends and family members assist you with your activities of daily living - like making meals, cleaning, child care, and transportation. 

If you need to work from home early on after surgery or at you desk at work, be sure to get up and move around at least each hour to encourage circulation in your legs and lungs, and be able to delegate any lifting more than 5 pounds to others in the workplace or your family for the first 4 weeks.

You are planning to invest a great deal of time, effort, energy and money into your surgery - be sure to also invest the appropriate effort in your recovery!
More aboutMommy Makover surgery requires at least 6 weeks for a full physical recovery

Tomorrow: FREE live teleconference! Breast Reconstruction: Understanding Your Options

Posted by admin on Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tomorrow, July 28th 2010, at 12:00 p.m. EST (9:00 a.m. Pacific time), I am honored to be speaking at the Living Beyond Breast Cancer's LIVE educational teleconference!

The topic is "Breast Reconstruction: Understanding Your Options".  

Educational Programs

Breast Reconstruction: Understanding Your Options

Our July teleconference will help you learn about your choices for breast reconstructive surgery

Join Living Beyond Breast Cancer for our next free teleconference, Breast Reconstruction: Understanding Your Options, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Wednesday, July 28.
Karen M. Horton, MD, MSc, FRCSC, a board certified plastic surgeon with Women’s Plastic Surgery, will help you learn about:
This teleconference will also discuss questions to help you explore whether you want to consider reconstructive surgery.

About Our Speaker
In addition to her board certification, Dr. Horton is a reconstructive microsurgeon. She practices in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco.

Dr. Horton educates, empowers and informs women about options for breast reconstruction after cancer. Her goal is to use techniques that do not sacrifice major body muscles, enabling women to have reconstruction with the least number of stages. She specializes in microsurgical breast reconstruction, including DIEP flap, SIEA flap and TUG (inner thigh) flap.

Dr. Horton has published review book chapters on breast reconstruction. She presents clinical papers at national and international scientific meetings and has won research awards. Dr. Horton also specializes in "mommy makeover" cosmetic surgery for women.  Read more here!

About the Program
Our speaker will give a brief presentation, followed by a question-and-answer period. To participate, you need only a telephone or computer with Adobe Flash Player or Windows Media Player. Social workers may be eligible to receive continuing education credits; see our registration form for more details.


For those who cannot tune in online tomorrow, it will be recorded and an MP3 and PDF of my slides will be posted shortly on the Living Beyond Breast Cancer website.
More aboutTomorrow: FREE live teleconference! Breast Reconstruction: Understanding Your Options

"Skin tightening" quick-fix remedies do not solve the real problems of the post-pregnancy tummy!

Posted by admin on Thursday, May 6, 2010


Karen M. Horton, MD answers: Non surgical skin tightening for the tummy?

I am a mother of 4 children. I had my first child at the age of 16. I was told that because of my young age my skin stretched a lot, hence all the stretch marks. Ever since I have had a lot of loose skin in that area is there anything that I can do to tighten it without surgery???

"Skin tightening" procedures, namely laser-type therapies or injection treatments, do NOT address the underlying issue of a Mom's tummy after she has had multiple pregnancies:
  • Excess skin and fat
  • Stretch marks
  • "Rectus diastasis" = separation of the muscles of the abdominal wall away from one another, creating loss of muscle tone and a bulge
Only a surgical procedure, abdominoplasty (and/or liposuction in some cases), can address each of these factors.

Beware of smooth-talking salespeople who do their best to get you to sign up for a "package deal" of procedures.

Often, minimally invasive therapies such as these prey on those Moms who are frightened of surgery and are looking for a quick fix with supposedly less downtime and fewer scars.

However, the checkbook can often be the area to suffer the most with non-surgical therapies, together with a general disappointment with results!

Visit a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon with experience in Mommy Makeover surgery to help determine which procedure(s) will best achieve your goals!
More about"Skin tightening" quick-fix remedies do not solve the real problems of the post-pregnancy tummy!

Abdominoplasty can also involve liposuction for a contoured waist - as long as it is safe!

Posted by admin on Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Karen M. Horton, MD answers:  

Can liposuction and tummy tuck be done at the same time?

Abdominoplasty has the goals of removing excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen, tightening the abdominal wall contour, and bringing the rectus abdominis muscles back together in the midline.

On the other hand, liposuction simply removes excess fat in areas where it is deposted in excess.  Sometimes, these two procedures are combined for the most aesthetic result. However, this must be done in the safest way possible, without creating additional risks.

I usually perform the abdominoplasty portion first.  This removes most of the lower abdominal and pubic area fat by direct excision, and liposuction is not needed for these regions.  I then evaluate whether there is any additional fat remaining that may be appropriate for liposuction - for instance in the flank and/or upper abdominal regions.

Of course, other areas of the body such as hips, inner or outer thighs are often addressed at the same time as an abdominoplasty, as complimentary procedures.

Next, if considering liposuction to enhance the abdominoplasty procedure, I will infiltrate the tumescent solution into the remaining abdominal regions.

Tumescent solution functions to temporarily constrict the blood vessels in the area and decreases the risk for bleeding and bruising with suctioning of fat. If any of the abdominal skin appears to have a compromised circulation, then I will stop here and not perform liposuction, to avoid the risk of wound healing problems.

However, if the abdominal skin appears to be healthy and pink, without any circulatory compromise, I may also perform a careful and limited amount of liposuction, usually to the flanks and possibly upper abdomen and/or pubic area at that time.

In Plastic Surgery, healing is based on having a good circulation to the tissues. It is always wise to do the safest procedure and avoid complications, rather than power ahead and risk "doing too much" at one time!  Safety first!

Karen M. Horton, M.D., M.Sc., F.R.C.S.C.
More aboutAbdominoplasty can also involve liposuction for a contoured waist - as long as it is safe!

Mommy Makeover Surgery - Rejuvenation of the Breasts and Body for Moms, Especially After Twins!

Posted by admin on Sunday, April 18, 2010

For Moms, a "mommy makeover" can be an empowering experience, particularly for mother who have had a twin or multiple pregnancy.  The following is an online article I gave for the incredible website Twin Pregnancy and Beyond.  I was interviewed by its creator, Kellie:

Plastic Surgery After Twins
Getting Your Body Back

plastic surgery after twins We were so lucky to get some of the best information on plastic surgery after twins from a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon. This informative article covers our interview with Karen Horton, M.D., and her advice on getting your body back after twin pregnancy via plastic surgery.

Her knowledgeable, straightforward counsel will help anyone who is interested in what's commonly referred to as a "Mommy Makeover". You will definitely get a better grasp on what's involved, recovery and costs. She also dicusses what happens to our bodies after twin pregnancy, as well as what to look for in a plastic surgeon and other available procedures. A must read!


Karen Horton MD I am a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon and Reconstructive Microsurgeon, practicing in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco. I specialize in both reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery for women, and in particular, Moms! Please visit my bio for additional information.

At least half of my practice focuses on breast cancer reconstruction, using new techniques that are not yet widely performed in the United States: (1) Single-stage procedure using an implant, giving women a natural result without the need for multiple surgeries; and (2) Microsurgical reconstruction of the breast using the body's own tissue, usually from the lower abdomen or inner thigh area. This option avoids the use of implants, and provides a permanent, soft and living tissue reconstruction, while adding the benefit of a tummy tuck or a thigh lift!

The other part of my practice focuses also on women, most of them Moms! The "mommy makeover" spectrum of procedures rejuvenates a woman's body after she has completed childbearing. This type of surgery usually focuses on the breasts and body.

Many women who come to see me after doing an internet search say they feel more comfortable because I am a woman Surgeon. I think many women feel most comfortable discussing their bodies, their body image and self-esteem, and their personal goals for surgery with another woman - with the same anatomy, and who can relate to them as a peer as well as their doctor.

I give every single patient who walks through the door or my practice my full attention and absolute care. I get to know my patients intimately, and strive to understand them as a whole person. I explore how their desire to modify a part of their body will affect their life, health, wellness and spirit, and I encourage realistic goals and objectives for surgery. Each of my patients is given my personal cell phone number, and my patients are encouraged to contact me directly with any questions or concerns, no matter how big or small.

(especially a twin pregnancy)?

twin pregnancy stretch marks Many women find their abdomens have permanent changes following pregnancy, including stretch marks, loss of abdominal tone, excess skin and extra fat deposits that have accumulated since having babies.

Most mothers do not have complete recovery of their bodies after children. Many of my patients are personal trainers, who also need a little help once they are mothers!

Regardless of whether you breastfeed or not, having babies "suck the life right out of them" (your breasts)! The breasts are usually more and more deflated with each subsequent pregnancy.

This loss of volume is usually addressed by a breast augmentation, and sometimes a breast lift is incorporated to move the nipple and areola up to a more aesthetic position and to tuck excess breast skin. Twin pregnancies and multiple births can amplify the changes to a Mom's body.

Often the abdominal skin and rectus muscles are stretched so far apart that a hernia occurs, which is visible when you try to do a sit-up as a protruding bulge in your midline. This is repaired in a standard abdominoplasty, together with tightening your muscles and removing excess skin. There is no substitute for this incredible operation, which is one of my favorites to do!

How a mother feels about herself as a mother and a woman is integral to her self image and self esteem. For a mom to want to take care of herself and feel youthful, sexy and confident is NOT self-centered or vain!


A Mommy Makeover can include a breast lift, breast augmentation or breast reduction, depending on the changes of pregnancy and your specific aesthetic goals.

Because the muscles of the abdominal wall are permanently separated after pregnancies (particular after multiple children or twin pregnancies), a million sit-ups will not help! A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)and/or liposuction is often recommended to bring the abdominal muscles back together in the midline, and to recreate a flat belly.

A "mommy makeover" surgical procedure should only be considered at least 6 months after the birth of your last child so that your body has the chance to recover as much as possible and to enable you to achieve as much as you can on your own, with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

I encourage each of my patients to become as physically fit as possible before considering any major surgery. If you are athletic and your body is used to being stressed physically, with endorphin release and a good heart and lung workout, then surgery will be much less of an insult to your body. If you are a couch potato and do no physical activity at all, then surgery will be a huge stress to your system and your recovery will be much more difficult.

Any Plastic Surgery operation is a major deal. Each procedure involves cutting and sewing, bruising, downtime, discomfort, and healing time. Reality shows and celebrity gossip magazines often portray Plastic Surgery in an unrealistic light, minimizing the downtime and sensationalizing the results.

In addition, many Hollywood celebrities who have had more than their share of cosmetic procedures look abnormal and have lost their natural beauty. The best Plastic Surgery does not make you look different, does not distort your features, and is not overtly obvious to any passer-by. Most women seeking surgery in my office want a natural result, without looking "fake" or "done". Most Moms usually just want their pre-pregnancy bodies back, or perhaps to look even better than they did before!


Two main Plastic Surgery procedures apply to the post-pregnancy tummy:

(1) Liposuction will remove excess fat in areas that are stubborn to weight loss, such as the abdomen, flanks, pubic area, and thighs. Liposuction will not address excess skin or stretch marks, and will not help to tighten abdominal tone.

(2) Abdominoplasty or "tummy tuck" addresses both the inside and the outside of the abdominal wall, in a three-dimensional manner:

Tummy tuck surgery not only removes excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen (including some stretch marks), but it also tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall through "rectus plication". This step of surgery "corsets" the fascia overlying your abdominal muscles together in the midline and truly decreases the diameter of your waist from the inside! The bulge of pregnancy ("rectus diastasis", separation of the rectus abdominis muscles) is an integral part of this operation.

Depending on your particular situation, either liposuction or a tummy tuck, or both, may be recommended to achieve your specific goals.

An abdominoplasty has major downtime and recovery, and will require 4-6 weeks off of exercise and heavy activities that raise your heart rate or blood pressure, including carrying your children. You will need to have help with the activities of daily living during the immediate postoperative period, and ensure that you take care of yourself during this time, with others helping to care for your family!


should I have a boob job Loss of breast volume after having children is corrected by placing a breast implant behind the breast tissue to fill out what has been lost.  

Breast augmentation can help restore a woman's sense of proportion to her body, and in many cases can improve a Mom's self-esteem and confidence. Breast implants are placed either behind the breast tissue (subglandular position) or behind the breast tissue and the pectoralis major muscle (submuscular position). There are proponents for each technique, based on opinion and surgical training.

Regardless of the placement of the implant, the fill material and the size, having breast implants does not interfere with breast self-examination, physician breast exams, mammograms, ultrasound, MRI or any other cancer detection techniques.

Breast implants are safe! All implants have a silicone shell; silicone breast implants are the most widely studied medical device in the history of the FDA. To read more about the science and safety of all implants, visit the website.

Breast augmentation using implants will not interfere with breast cancer detection. Implants of all shapes and sizes have a shell made from silicone, which is an inert solid and is used in many implantable devices. The fill can be either saline (sterile salt water) or silicone gel. Sizes range from 125 cc to 800 cc, and implants may be smooth-walled or textured, round or shaped.

If you are "happy in a bra" and do not usually wear padding in your bras to achieve your aesthetic goals, a breast lift alone may be your answer for sagging breasts. Breast lift surgery (known as mastopexy) can restore droopy breasts to a normal size and shape. This operation, although similar to breast reduction, is considered cosmetic and is rarely covered by insurance.

A mastopexy reshapes and lifts the breasts, removes excess skin from stretched-out breasts, lifts the nipples and areolas to a more youthful position, and makes the diameter of stretched areolas smaller. Breast lift surgery creates scars that are permanent, but which fade with time, and are hidden in a bra and even a triangle-string bikini top. If you desire both replacement of lost volume and a lift to your nipples, a combination augmentation-mastopexy may be indicated.


I also see women with concerns about excess tissue in their external genitalia region, the labia minora. Hanging or redundant labia skin can cause embarrassment, pain with intercourse, or friction or sores when walking or doing exercise. One procedure I perform to correct this is called labiaplasty.

Labiaplasty surgically reduces excessive large labia minora tissue to create symmetry when it is lacking, and to make the labia appear more cosmetically appealing. Occasionally excess tissue around the clitoral hood is also carefully trimmed, without any injury to the nerves that provide sexual stimulation.


It is important to realize that any body-modifying surgery can have a major impact on body image and self-esteem. Hopefully, the change is a positive one!

However, just like a drastic haircut, there can be a "body image adjustment" period or temporary feeling of remorse after surgery. I counsel my patients at their initial consultation that this adjustment period of potential feelings of uneasiness, anxiety or "what have I done?" is completely normal and common after surgery. It can take some time to adjust to your body after any surgery, and the most healthy approach is to acknowledge how you are feeling and to communicate this to your loved ones who are assisting you after surgery.


team of doctors A Mom should do her homework when seeking a Plastic Surgeon! You will be trusting your body to this person! Do your 'due diligence'. The surgeon should be Board-Certified and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS - if in the United States) or another major professional society, and should be current in their Board Certification and training.

They should have a great deal of experience in the procedure you are seeking, and should show you multiple before-and-after photographs of their results - not just the best outcomes, but "average" results in body shapes and types just like you! Ask to speak to some of their patients who have had surgery with the Surgeon, and don't be shy about asking them all about their experience - you need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Bring a list of questions with you, and bring a friend to act as another listener and objective observer. There should be a "good fit" between you and the physician - in terms of personality, aesthetic goals for the procedure, office staff atmosphere, etc.


I don't usually discuss the costs of surgery - this is left up to my Patient Coordinator Mary, who spends time with patients once they have completed their consultation with me, which usually lasts 45-60 minutes on our first visit. Mary then reviews the procedures we have discussed and provides an estimate of the total costs of the procedure(s), which include a surgical fee, operating room time, anesthesia fees, and sometimes an overnight stay in the hospital.

Estimated costs for the doctor's fee for some common procedures include:
* Breast augmentation $ 4,200 - 5,000
* Breast lift $ 6,000 - 8,000
* Breast reduction $ 6,000 - 8,000 (some cases may be covered insurance)
* Abdominoplasty $ 6,000 - 10,000
* Liposuction (per site) $ 2,000 - 3,500
* Labiaplasty $ 3,500 - 4,000

Keep in mind that when multiple procedures are done at the same time, the overall cost is less and discounts are given. I usually recommend no longer than 6-8 hours under anesthesia, and mandate an overnight stay for any procedure longer than three hours.

Karen M. Horton, M.D., M.Sc., F.R.Cf.S.C.
Womens's Plastic Surgery
San Francisco, California
More aboutMommy Makeover Surgery - Rejuvenation of the Breasts and Body for Moms, Especially After Twins!

Full "tummy tuck" closure with DIEP flap breast reconstruction... A good idea?

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"It is possible to do rectus plication with DIEP flap donor site closure for a full abdominoplasty result"

Karen M. Horton, MD answers: Possible to do full tummy tuck while doing diep flap procedure?

I understand that the diep flap benefit of a real 'tummy tuck' is not covered by insurance. Is it reasonable to ask for the cost of a full tummy tuck (sewing together muscles, etc.) while the surgeon is performing a diep flap procedure? My surgeon seems very reluctant to even discuss outlying procedures such as abdominoplasty and liposuction, which I believe are both necessary to achieve the best final results. If I'm willing to pay for these procedures out of pocket, I don't know why my surgeon won't discuss them. Any insight appreciated.
Karen M. Horton, MD

When the DIEP flap (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flap) is used for microsurgical breast reconstruction, usually a small split is made in the muscle fascia (thick layer of collagen over top of the rectus abdominis muscles) to dissect out the blood vessels used for transplantation of skin and fat from the tummy to the breast.

Usually, the fascial split is simply closed, and the overlying anterior abdominal wall (sheet of skin and fat over the muscles of the trunk) is pulled tighter and closed, resulting in a tummy tuck scar.

It IS possible to perform rectus fascial plication (corsetting of the rectus abdominis muscles of the abdominal wall towards each other in the midline AT THE TIME of DIEP flap donor site closure.
However, doing so may change the pressures inside the abdominal cavity (i.e. on the stomach, intestines, diaphragm, etc) and may increase the risk of complications to the flap circulation in the short term. The worst case scenario would be to perform cosmetic steps during surgery and to lose the flap altogether!

Performing a full tummy tuck closure with the DIEP flap is something I HAVE performed successfully on a number of occasions, but patients must be very carefully selected and we would all have to be willing to accept an increased risk for complications.

I am currently reviewing my results on this combined procedure and will be presenting my work at upcoming meetings and in the form of a scientific paper, to be published on my website.

Often, the best solution is the simplest. On the day of your DIEP flap, it is usually best to focus only on microsurgical success. "Touch-ups" can be done any time in the future, including liposuction contouring of the abdomen (done in most of my patients) together with their nipple and areolar reconstruction, and/or rectus fascial plication, if needed.

See the photographs below of an example of rectus fascial plication done either at the time of DIEP flap donor site closure.  Trust your Microsurgeon to make the best decision for you, and to ensure a SAFE and SUCCESSFUL breast reconstruction as the #1 goal!

Karen M. Horton, M.D., M.Sc., F.R.C.S.C.

More aboutFull "tummy tuck" closure with DIEP flap breast reconstruction... A good idea?

Words of Thanks from a Breast Cancer Survivor

Posted by admin on Sunday, April 4, 2010

The following is a message from one of my patients who underwent bilateral skin-sparing mastectomies and immediate reconstruction using the DIEP/SIEA flap.  

Words like hers are the exact reason why being a Plastic Surgeon and Reconstructive Microsurgeon is so absolutely rewarding...

Dear Karen,

    My breasts are so beautiful. My torso, too. I'm overflowing with affection, appreciation and feelings of indebtedness towards you. This is so personal. YOU led me here. Not you, the doctor. Not you because this is your job. But the loving, caring, giving you. 

   Your training and gift as a surgeon are your vehicles but it's your heart and your soul that speak to the patient.You gave me the chance to put aside fear, stale ideas, and martyrdom (from childhood! YIKES! I didn't even know it was still there until all of this,) to reach in and stretch my uninformed "normal" view. When Dr. Richards first mentioned "reconstruction" I thought I had misunderstood. I had cancer. What does reconstruction have to do with that? Of course, everyone is familiar with breast cancer and, afterwards, reconstruction,  but these are remote concepts to those who have never experienced it.  

     "Let's just get rid of the cancer," I said to myself. "I don't need new boobs. They haven't been cute since I was last breast feeding. I'm already settled in with older-ish woman boobs, anyway. My middle-aged persona has been developed with older-ish woman boobs playing a key role. WHAT are they all talking about?" Now, I have breasts and they are lovely!

    When I met you, I was scared. Maybe you were the first person ever to say, " Joanne, What do YOU want? This is for you. Only you. What do you want ?" Maybe I was very receptive at that time in my life to consider such a question. My body, my choice. In those days, I would have been satisfied to get rid of the cancer, but I did consider your question . You gave me an open door to think about it. I did think about it. A lot. Before long I was able to decide that I did want new boobs. You know the rest of the story.

    Now that you've completed your magic on me, I feel so new. So alive. So complete. I haven't been swimming for awhile. Now I can't wait for summer.  My sexuallity was dormant. Now it is reawakened! I was a bit reclusive. Now I'm not. Each moment of my life has been improved, deepened, and is more satisfying since having received your care.

    I will be thanking you for the rest of my life for the most awesome and generous gift I have received from you. 

    Karen, I am so eternally grateful to you for staying with me at a time of great despair.

    With love, gratitude, and appreciation,

    Thanks so much, ~joanne

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The Psychology of Potential Cosmetic Surgery Patients - The Surgeons' Perspective

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The following was taken from an ASAPS publication, Selling the Invisible: 7 Simple Strategies to Increase Your Patient Census, by Catherine Maley, MBA, Author, Your Aesthetic Practice

 Since this is what the Plastic Surgeons who perform cosmetic surgery are reading, I thought it would be useful to post this article for potential patients and the general public to read as well!  I welcome comments about its content and its perspectives. 

Imagine being an aesthetic patient today trying to swim through the sea of information and options available for cosmetic enhancement. It is often daunting to sort out fact from fiction, hype from reality and marketing from credibility.  The aesthetic patient wants to improve something that bothers them and they have to take a big leap of faith to get the result they are imagining.

When you understand how difficult this process can be for the aesthetic patient, you can more easily establish rapport with them and help guide them to make the best and safest decision.

What Is The Patient Buying?

What are your patients really buying?  Prospective aesthetic patients want to change something about their appearance and they hope fixing, repairing or enhancing a certain aspect of themselves will make them feel better. They feel vulnerable and are looking for help.

Psychologically, they are buying hope, happiness and self esteem. They are also buying peace of mind. Patients want to avoid making a bad choice. They are considering risks and how to minimize them. Because they do not want to regret their decision, they are looking for reassurance. It is important to them that they are in the right place for the right procedure and that they trust they will get a good result.

Aesthetic Patients are Consumers

Since this target market is using their own disposable income to look and feel their best, they are consumers and have the power and freedom to choose their aesthetic practitioner at whim. Ultimately, aesthetic patients are doing a cost-benefit analysis to determine if what you offer is worth their time, money and effort.

Consumer behavior is a complex subject since it involves emotions, personalities and life experiences so, to simplify, the following concepts should help in your understanding of what your patients want and need.

Your aesthetic patients are consumers.  The following are four buying groups they fall into and includes advice on the best approach to reach them:

1.  "Tire Kickers"

This group doesn’t know what they want. They seem to have a lot of time on their hands because they will attend your events, eat your food, take your samples and never, ever buy. They may even book a consultation, go through the motions but never book a procedure. Do not exert energy on this group since it’s a waste of time.

2.  "Deal Makers/Price Shoppers"

This group is looking for the best deal in town above all else. They have a tendency to regard cosmetic enhancement as a commodity and will spend much of their consultation negotiating with you and your staff. To them, it’s an art form to get you to lower your prices or throw in freebies. Beware of them. Shut them down
on their first attempt to lower your price by firmly restating what it is.

3.  "Brand Loyalists"

This is your favorite group. They love you and would not go to anyone else—even if a competitor was half your price!  They are your cheerleaders, your advocates and your loyal followers. Treat them well and they are yours for life. Most of your efforts should be concentrated on this group and growing it to include their loyal friends, family and colleagues.

4.  "Luxury Innovators/Quality Shoppers"

While this group wants only the best and will pay for it, they can be difficult.  They have a tendency to flaunt their money and expect better treatment than your other patients get. While you should treat all of your patients with respect and special care, spending a little extra time and effort on this group can pay off since
like-minded people know other like-minded people and this can be a profitable group to appease.
The Aesthetic Patient’s Decision-Making Process

Aesthetic patients are emotional and act on prejudices and habits much more than knowledge. They reach decisions quickly with emotions and then justify those decisions with logic. And, while it takes a patient a split second to make a decision; getting ready to make that decision can take months or even years.

The answer to bonding with your prospective patients, giving them what they want and closing more procedures, is effective communications. It is most helpful to communicate with each patient the way they can best understand—especially when discussing the invisible. Patients use their senses to take in information and digest it accordingly and, typically, one sense dominates over the others. Keep these in mind when consulting with your patients:

"Looks Right" Patients
These patients make decisions based on what they see and then they visualize how it will look for them so show them lots of before and after photos and/or computer imaging. Paint them a mental picture with words. Draw out what you envision. They trust what they see. They will say things like, “This looks right to me.” or “I see what you mean.”

"Sounds Right" Patients

These people make decisions based on what they hear. When they hear words that make sense to them, they respond well, so tell them about the procedure with confidence and sincerity. Have your staff and other patients tell them about their own experiences. They will say things like, “That sounds about right.” or “I like the sound of that!”

"Feels Right" Patients

These people make decisions based on what they can physically feel so hand them a mirror, give them product samples and let them try on breast implants.  Pat them on the shoulder to physically connect with them. They will say things like, “I feel good about this.” Or “This feels right.”

"Makes Sense" Patients

These people need reasons for what they do. Answer the “why” for them. Give them facts, data and reasons so they can justify their decision in their own minds.  They respond well to logic. They will say things like, “Well, that’s logical.” or “That makes a lot of sense.”

Steps to Closing More Procedures

When selling the invisible service—which is you—you have no product between you and the patient. You are the product so they have to examine you as they would any other big, disposable investment they make.


Understanding the decision-making process of an aesthetic patient and then addressing each patient individually will improve your closing ratio. Learning to build rapport, communicate effectively, and establish trust with your patients by using the senses, will bond them to you.  That means they will consistently choose you over all the others.
More aboutThe Psychology of Potential Cosmetic Surgery Patients - The Surgeons' Perspective

Liposuction Q & A with Dr. Karen Horton

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1. How soon will I see liposuction results?

The results of liposuction take at least three months, up to a full year, to be evident.  As with any surgical procedure, you can expect some swelling, bruising, numbness and discomfort that will take a few weeks to resolve.

Postoperative tissue swelling, known as "edema", tends to persist in the tissues that underwent liposuction.  Edema feels like firmness and woody texture to the tissue, sometimes with dimpling of the skin and/or a darker pigmentation.  This is entirely normal; edema is the body' s response to injury! (just like a "goose egg" swelling of the scalp with a bad fall). Initially after liposuction, you may in fact gain weight, despite the removal of a few pounds of fat!  This is again due to edema - the body holds on to extra water as part of its injury response.  

Do not weigh yourself for at least a few weeks after surgery, at least until after the bruising has resolved (2-3 weeks).  When bruising is gone, your healing will be well on its way.  You will notice your clothes begin to fit differently (better) after the first three months, and every single month you will notice subtle but significant changes. The results are permanent!

Remember to be patient after having any Plastic Surgical procedure!  Any type of surgery takes up to a year for every last bit of swelling and tissue edema to go away.  Plastic Surgery is an investment in your body.  You will need to continue your regular exercise regime (beginning at 3-6 weeks postop, or when you receive permission from your Surgeon), a nutritious and balanced diet, and healthy overall lifestyle. 

 2. What anesthesia is used with Tumescent Liposuction?

During liposuction, a fluid mixture commonly called "tumescent solution"containing normal saline (sterile salt water), epinephrine (adrenaline) and a local anesthetic (Lidocaine) is injected into the areas of fat that your surgeon has marked for removal before surgery.  Tumescent solution functions to help "puff up" the fat cells for suctioning, decrease bleeding and limit bruising, and to make the area numb both during and for many hours after surgery. 

After the tumescence is infiltrated, it is allowed to circulate for at least 10 minutes in each area.  This is to maximize the "vaso constriction" effect of the epinephrine (to shrink the blood vessels in the fat and under the skin, to help avoid their injury). 

The local anesthetic will keep you comfortable after surgery, although this is not the only method of anesthesia used during liposuction in most cases .Most of the time, you are also fully asleep under general anesthesia, or at a minimum under intravenous sedation so that you do not feel or remember anything during surgery. 

Next, through tiny "stab incisions" that are placed in natural creases of your body, a thin and blunt-ended wand known as a "cannula" is inserted to permanent suck out fat cells.  These incisions are later closed with sutures(stitches), a dressing is applied over each incision, and you are placed in a postoperative compression garment.  The purpose of the compression garments is to limit swelling and bruising, encourage skin contraction, and to keep you as comfortable as possible. 

3. Who can perform Tumescent Liposuction?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure, and should be performed by a specially trained Plastic Surgeon.  Most Plastic Surgeons have completed at least 5 years of surgical Residency at an accredited University, with an additional year or two of subspecialty training.  At least two years, and up to six of these years should be in Plastic Surgery for a Physician to call themselves a "Plastic Surgeon". 

In the United States, it is important to seek out a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon who is credentialed by either the American Board of Plastic Surgeryor the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (equivalent licensing Boards).  Unfortunately, not all Physicians are Board-Certified. Another good resource is the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)and/or the American Society of  Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS).  Entry to these professional societies is limited to Plastic Surgeons who have been in practice for a minimum number of years, are certified by their respective Boards, and are reviewed and accepted into membership by their peers. 

It is up to you, as the patient, to do your homework not only to learn about your surgical procedure, but about your potential Surgeon!  Board Certification is unfortunately not a requirement to obtain a medical license in the U.S.  In Canada and other countries, Board Certification is a rule; a Doctor cannot obtain a medical license without this certification. 

In addition, many non-Surgeons (Family Doctors, Internists, Dentists) or Doctors with other specialties (Oral Surgeons, Ear, Nose and Throat, OB-GYN)take a weekend course on liposuction and begin offering this treatment at a discounted rate to their patients.  Beware!  Just as you would not go to a foot specialist for open-heart surgery, you should not trust your body and your life to a practitioner who does not have the training and experience in the procedure you are seeking. 

Lastly, be cautious of the terminology "Cosmetic Surgeon", and certification and the like.  Nearly anyone can call themselves a "cosmetic" anything -most of the time, it means very little!  The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) only recognize University-accredited training programs in Plastic Surgeon for certification. 

 Again, be cautious and take your time to research your Doctor the same way you would research your nanny, a new school for your child or a contractor for your home.  There is only one of you, and you are a very valuable commodity!  Be sure to put yourself in the hands of the best practitioner for the job. 

4. How safe is Liposuction?

Any surgical procedure carries with it potential associated risks, such as the risks of anesthesia, early risks of surgery, and late risks.  Safety is always the number one goal!  Most surgeries are performed in the operating room or an accredited out patient surgical facility with appropriate intraoperative and postoperative monitoring to ensure your procedure goes as safely and smoothly as possible. 

For liposuction specifically, possible early risks include persistent numbness of the surgical area ("anesthesia" of the skin) that can last weeks to months, pins-and-needles or electric shock sensations of the skin as the nerves are waking up ("paresthesias"), or sometimes unpleasant sensations("dysesthesias") as a temporary experience.  Bruising is common for at least 2-3 weeks after surgery, and swelling may persist for 3 months or more.

Potential late complications can include uneven contour of the skin or rippling, darker pigmentation of the treated areas, or asymmetries between sides of the body.  Differences between your right and left sides will likely be pointed out by your Surgeon preoperatively.  Although symmetry is always the goal, you may never be an exact mirror image from one side to the other - no one is! 

As long as the procedure is performed by a Board-Certified, specially trained Plastic Surgeon with a great deal of experience in liposuction, the benefits of liposuction usually far outweigh the risks.  You should also be healthy and physically fit enough to undergo surgery and have clearance from your Primary Care Physician before having any elective surgical procedure. 

 5. What areas are most common body regions treated with Tumescent Liposuction?

 Fat deposition is primarily based on genetics.  Every woman' s body is different, and your area is likely a little different from your best friend' s.
The most common areas of the body that are appropriate for liposuction are the lower abdomen hips, flanks (sides or "spare tire" area), inner and outer thighs, the upper neck beneath the chin , upper arms and the "butttockroll" (the area immediately below the buttocks). These regions are the trouble spots that most women (and some men) deposit fat and are stubborn to diet and exercise.

Areas that are not appropriate for liposuction include the knees, lower legs, ankles, lower arms, or the face (with the exception of the front of the neck).  These areas are not usual areas where fat is stored, and liposuction in these regions is risky for injury to nerves, tendons, blood vessels, and the skin. Liposuction is also not applicable to internal abdominal fat - the fat that is deposited around the internal organs.  It is also not a treatment for obesity or for weight loss.  Liposuction is for body contouring only! 

6. Can I have other operations with Tumescent Liposuction?

 Liposuction is commonly performed together with other procedures - for instance breast augmentation, breast lift or reduction, abdominoplasty, or a face lift.  So long as the total time under anesthesia is not excessively long (I limit my patients to maximum 8 hours of elective surgery). it is safe to have combined procedures with liposuction. 

 7. How does the Tumescent technique reduce risk of infection?

Vasoconstriction of the blood vessels may slightly decrease the risk of infection, as the blood flow to the area to be suctioned is reduced temporarily during the operation.  However, the risk of infection is very low as a baseline risk for liposuction.  Usually, a single dose of intravenous antibiotics is given immediately before surgery in the operatingroom.  Oral antibiotics are often continued for a few days after surgery to also prevent infection. 
More aboutLiposuction Q & A with Dr. Karen Horton

Medicare Participation Among Surgeons - Current Statistics and Forecast for the Future

Posted by admin on Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nation’s Surgical Groups Survey Members on Medicare Participation

March 26, 2010

Washington, DC–The results of a new member survey by the nation’s Surgical Coalition shows that the more than 21 percent pay cut to physicians that is scheduled to take effect April 1 will make it difficult, if not impossible, for already financially strapped surgical practices to continue to treat Medicare patients. A majority of the more than 14,000 surgeons and anesthesiologists who responded to the survey indicated that they will be forced to make significant changes in their practices if the cut goes into effect and that timely access to surgical care will be jeopardized if Medicare payments continue to decline. (Read the survey report (PDF))

The survey reveals that while 96 percent of respondents currently participate in Medicare, less than one-third of them will be able to remain as Medicare participating physicians. In addition, respondents indicated that practical realities will force them to stop providing certain services, reduce staff, defer the purchase of new medical equipment, and/or reduce time spent with Medicare patients. Thirty-seven percent said they will change their status to nonparticipating, and another 29 percent said they will opt out of the Medicare program for two years and contract privately with Medicare patients.

When asked, “If Medicare reimbursement to physicians is cut by over 21%, what changes to your Medicare participation status do you plan to make?” Respondents answered:
  • 37 percent will change their status to nonparticipating
  • 31 percent plan on remaining a Medicare participating physician
  • 29 percent will opt out of Medicare for two years and privately contract with Medicare patients
  • 3 percent will remain a Medicare nonparticipating physician
Among those remaining as Medicare participating physicians, three-fourths plan on making some change in their practice in the next 12 months. Respondents stated they would:
  • Limit the number of Medicare patient appointments (69%)
  • Reduce time spent with Medicare patients (47%)
  • Begin referring complex cases (46%)
  • Stop providing certain services (45%)
  • Defer purchase of new medical equipment (44%)
  • Reduce staff (43%)
  • Defer purchase of information technology (32%)
  • Significantly reduce workload/hours (17%)
  • Shift services from office to hospital (16%)
  • Discontinue rural outreach services (9%)
  • Close satellite offices (8%)
  • Discontinue nursing home visits (6%)
  • Retire (4%)
The payment cuts are the result of a flawed methodology called the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that is used to calculate payments for physicians who participate in the Medicare program. The formula contains administrative errors and fails to accurately reflect the costs of sustaining medical practices.

Physician participation is the foundation of a sustainable and functional Medicare program -- now and into the future. Therefore, the Surgical Coalition believes it is crucial that Congress pass legislation to permanently repeal the SGR to prevent the further declines in Medicare payments and to replace the flawed formula with a system that is reasonable and that will lead to a more workable reimbursement system.

The Surgical Coalition includes the American College of Surgeons and 22 other medical organizations and represents 240,000 surgeons and anesthesiologists.

The survey was conducted during February 2010. The nearly 14,000 surgeons and anesthesiologists who responded represented the following specialty areas: Anesthesiology, Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery, Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, General Surgery, Neurosurgery, OB-GYN, Ophthalmology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Urology, and Vascular Surgery.

Contact: Cory Petty
American College of Surgeons
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