August 23, 2019
During her first pregnancy, Sonia West developed an umbilical hernia. Her growing baby stretched the muscles at her belly button, causing an uncomfortable bulge in the muscle wall. When she learned it would likely recur with subsequent pregnancies, she chose to wait to repair it until she and her husband, Trey, had completed their family.
Today Sonia and Trey share a perfect family with daughters Layla (age 11) and Avery (age 5), and son Trey (age 8). Since her last pregnancy, Sonia had lost all of the baby weight but wasn’t fully satisfied with her post-pregnancy body. “Children change your body, there’s no doubt about it,” she says. “I embraced all of those aspects, but I definitely wanted to feel like myself again—before the loose skin and stretch marks.”
She had considered a tummy tuck but wanted to fix the uncomfortable hernia first. So she started looking for a surgeon for that procedure. She’d heard great things from work colleagues about Kumar Dasmahapatra, M.D., a general surgeon at Raritan Bay Medical Center-Perth Amboy.
During her evaluation, Dr. Dasmahapatra told Sonia about Salem Samra, M.D., a plastic surgeon who sometimes worked with him on cases like hers to give moms a tummy tuck at the same time as their hernia repair.
“When a woman is planning corrective hernia surgery, a hysterectomy or some other elective abdominal operation, I can work with the surgeon doing the medical procedure to give her the added bonus of a rejuvenated abdominal wall,” Dr. Samra says.
Two Fixes, One Surgery
Sonia was eager to address both issues with one surgery. Still she wasn’t without anxiety. “My biggest fear was the pain,” she says. “My close second was the scar.”
When Sonia met Dr. Samra at his office in Holmdel, New Jersey, she felt instantly at ease. “Dr. Samra thoroughly explained that because I was thinner, my scar would be higher than someone who had more tissue to connect in the lower abdominal area. I would still have a scar, but in time it would fade,” she says. “Dr. Samra was very reassuring, and everyone was helpful then and when I came in post-op for changing my bandages.”
Both outpatient surgeries were completed at Raritan Bay on December 18, 2018. Sonia remembers leaving the hospital within eight hours of her arrival. “The hospital was great,” she says. “I had never been there before and I was impressed by the people I met. They called me at home that night to be sure I was doing well. Dr. Samra called me, too. He has a great bedside manner.”
Enjoying a New Body Without Pain
Sonia is a busy working mother—she is a surgical tech in a dermatology office—so recovering quickly was important to her. She returned to work in just three weeks and was back to exercising an additional six weeks later. “I’ve joined a gym,” she says. “I want to keep my new body up, so I go at least an hour a day.” It’s a family affair: Her husband and children usually join her at the gym.
Sonia’s double surgery is not uncommon. “She had the typical issues that women who have had children have,” Dr. Samra says. “Her abdominal wall and skin were stretched out, creating stretch marks and redundant skin. She was an ideal candidate for what I call a ‘mommy makeover.’ Pregnancy is an amazing experience, but it can have a significantly detrimental effect on a woman’s abdominal wall, leaving behind muscle weakness and overhanging skin she can’t get rid of by diet and exercise. Sometimes, the only solution is an abdominoplasty that physically restores a woman’s abdomen to what it was before pregnancy.”
Dr. Samra adds that before a mother has a tummy tuck, she needs to get to her target weight so the outcome is preserved. “People sometimes think a tummy tuck will take off weight, but it’s not a weight-loss procedure,” he says. “It contours a woman’s skin after weight loss.”
Sonia says her surgery was not intended to help her lose weight, but rather to repair the hernia and deal with loose skin.
“The surgery was definitely worth it. I feel like myself again,” Sonia says. “I’m not embarrassed to wear a bikini anymore. The surgery gave me back the confidence I’ve lacked for years.”
In fact, only months after her surgery, Sonia was already planning summer trips to the Jersey Shore.
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