As much as we have focused on doing for others this holiday season, Smarties, here’s an idea for something you can give yourself to start the new year – a Mommy Makeover! My dear and totally awesome friend Kiara Harlow got one this past summer and she is radiant, y’all. Her enthusiasm for her transformation will make you want to call the plastic surgeon’s office today!
The first thing to know about Kiara is that she’s wide open – which is one of her greatest qualities – and it sure comes in handy on a subject matter like this. She shared intimate details of the entire makeover process on Instagram, which you can access at @ourharlowhighlife and click on the tab for “Mommy Makeover” and “MM: Part II.”
Kiara is 33. She had three sons in three years – who happen to be sweet buddies of my three sons! There’s no denying that that kind of (ahem) productivity does a number on your body. Once she and her husband Justin decided they were not going to have any more children, she knew this was what she wanted to do.
“Once we decided our family is complete, this was on the table,” Harlow said. “As moms we give up so much, not just of our time and our emotion and all of that but our actual bodies. They take a beating. You’re going to give birth to numerous children, your body is worse for the wear. There’s no getting around it.”
Harlow knew she had diastasis recti, where your abdominal muscles separate, but only after surgery did she find out there had been a 5 ½ inch gap between them.
“No matter how hard I worked out, my lower belly wasn’t coming off,” Harlow said. “Even as I lost weight, my stomach wrinkled more. It didn’t look as young as I felt. I was really looking for the outside to match the inside again. I used to have a pretty rockin’ body when I was 25, before I started having kids…..This is what self-care looks like for me, that I’m actually going to put myself first.”
She decided on Dr. Gaurav Bharti with H/K/B Cosmetic Surgery, who promised to tone her body but still accentuate her curves. She underwent a breast reduction and lift, tummy tuck and plication, and 360-degree liposuction – all at once. It’s something some plastic surgeons won’t do all at once but given her young age and good health, Dr. Bharti was willing to do it.
The cost was $32,000. Harlow had to line up childcare for a minimum of two weeks. Her boys are 5, 3 and almost 2 and all of them can walk which was key, because she wasn’t able to lift them coming out of surgery.
Kiara gives a detailed breakdown of what the recovery was like on her Instagram account, but for the big picture, here is what Kiara said were the toughest parts of the recovery:
Coming out of surgery she had pain in her elbows from having her arms spread out wide during the five-hour procedure. She struggled to communicate her discomfort to the nurses because she was groggy from the anesthesia. Luckily, Harlow said, they were able to figure out what she meant and get her in a more comfortable position within 10 minutes or so.
Harlow had significant upper body pain, as expected, though she said the breast discomfort dissipated after a day or two. As for the abdominal pain, she learned the hard way what she was dealing with after she tried to ween herself off the narcotic pain medication earlier than the fully prescribed time. Within about 30 minutes, she was back on track, and by staying on the prescribed dosage, the pain was manageable.
Harlow said she couldn’t stand fully upright for several days. She had to sleep in a recliner for eight or nine days. Because of the tummy tuck and liposuction, she had to wear drains for 12 days, which was cumbersome for getting around, showering and sleeping.
Given all of that, here comes the big question: would she do it all again?
“One hundred percent,” she said. “It was one bad week. The second week I still had help at my house with the kids, but I was able to get up and walk around and do things. I definitely wasn’t myself yet but by week 3, I felt very normal again.”
Kiara said her core is so much stronger now. It’s easier to lean over and reach for things, to sit up each morning, to pick up her children. She said her workouts are more fruitful and rewarding, and running is a lot easier too.
Kiara said she encourages other moms who might be interested in a mommy makeover not to wait until their kids are older to do it. That’s part of why she decided to chronicle her surgery and recovery on Instagram.
“I wanted people to see what it looks like to get plastic surgery when you’re young,” Harlow said. “This is a time that I want my body. Maybe when I’m 60 I won’t care as much or I’ll be used to it by them or a million other things. (But) I didn’t want to wait until I was 40 or 45 when my kids were older to get my body back right.”
The reaction she’s gotten on Instagram has been 85 percent positive, she said.
“You have no idea the people who reach out to me and say I inspire them to do their own mommy makeover,” Harlow said. “For a lot of them it’s not plastic surgery. They’re like ‘I’ve decided to finally go to the hair salon and pay that $300 to get my hair highlighted and done the way that I wanted to.’ ‘I finally got braces. I’ve been waiting for years.’ ‘I finally went in and got contacts,’ or whatever their thing is, but they write to me all the time, which is really sweet.”
As for the negative? Here’s a taste of the feedback she’s gotten on the other end of the spectrum:
“They say, ‘So many people long for children, you were able to have children, this is just what you get,’” she said. “Or people are like, ‘There was nothing wrong with your body before.’ There was nothing wrong with that body. That is a body that gave me the desires of my heart, but this is the one that feels like me. And it feels really good.”