New mothers are the latest target for the lucrative cosmetic surgery industry.
A Gold Coast plastic and cosmetic surgeon is advertising "post-baby body restoration" packages in Sydney's Childnewspaper, offering breast surgery, tummy tucks and liposuction as well as treatment to minimise caesarean scars. The ad says packages include a week of recuperation at a beachside address, spa treatments and pampering.
The co-ordinator of Dr Luke Stradwick's Southport surgery said the offer began about a month ago, and had been "very popular".
The Australian Medical Association has described the ad as "opportunistic marketing" to a vulnerable group.
AMA ethics spokeswoman Rosanna Capolingua said older mothers, in particular, were barraged with unrealistic images of celebrities who had regained their pre-baby figures in record time, such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liz Hurley and Elle Macpherson.
"This is telling women, 'Your body is not good after you've had a baby and he can fix it'," she said.
Dr Capolingua's advice to new mothers tempted to go under the knife was "Don't. Please wait.
"It takes your body two years to get over a baby," she said.
Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons past-president Dr Norman Olbourne said the ad would not be targeted at post-natal women.University of Melbourne psychiatry professor David Castle said new mothers were vulnerable to body image concerns, particularly if they were feeling "tired and daggy". "The idea that the ravages of childbirth are so terrible that you need correction is very unfortunate," he said.
Surgeons would not perform breast surgery until six months after a woman had finished breastfeeding; nor do a tummy tuck until after she had finished childbearing, he said.
But he saw nothing wrong in a figure-conscious woman wanting to retain her former shape.
Cosmetic Surgery Magazine editor Michelle Kearney said targeting mothers was a "clever marketing ploy", but nothing new.
Double Bay cosmetic surgeon Dr Anoop Rastogi said at least 70 per cent of his female patients were mothers seeking breast surgery or liposculpture.
Sydney cosmetic surgeon Dr Fabian Baez said stretch marks and loose skin were common complaints among mothers. Some were so impatient for surgery they came in a few weeks after birth saying "put me back to what I was before", he said. "But I tell them to wait six months to allow the body to adjust."
Shiree Gibson, 41, a mother of a 10-year-old son, had breast surgery and liposuction recently.
"I always promised myself I would do it after I had children, and when I had the money," she said. "I couldn't lose the last bit of weight off my hips. Now, I've got my beautiful figure back. As a mother, you give of yourself all the time. This was my treat for me."
New mother Laura Kahane, 44, also has no qualms about surgery. Just after she stopped breastfeeding her 18-month-old daughter, Mrs Kahane made an appointment to have a breast reduction.
She plans to follow up with some liposuction as soon as she has lost the 20 kilograms she put on during her pregnancy, by diet and exercise. And she wouldn't rule out a tummy tuck.
"Being an older mother, it's important for me to be in shape. It's a positive role model for a child," she said.
PRICE OF BEAUTY
Breast reduction surgery: from $3000.
Liposuction (fat removal): from $2000.
Tummy tuck: from $2000.
Scar minimisation: (by laser) from $3000.