Women are electing to have breast augmentation as young as 18 years of age, leaving questions about how future motherhood will affect their breasts.
The average breast augmentation patient is 34 years of age and already has at least one child. In 2015, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reported that only 32 percent of breast augmentation patients were under the age of 29.
Many of these younger women go happily about their post-surgery lives until the question comes up: “I’m pregnant! How will this affect my breast implants?”
Breast changes during pregnancy
The good news is that your implants do not change during pregnancy. Surgeons in the United States often favor a form of complete under the muscle or partial under the muscle breast implant placement, which works to help support your breast implant through it’s lifetime.
This also adds a barrier between your changing breast and the implant. The physical changes your breasts make over the course of your pregnancy are to your breast tissue and skin, not to the actual breast implant.
Hormones can surge through several points during pregnancy, and later as you move on to breastfeeding. These hormone surges can cause a variety of breast changes, but can also be indicators of how your breasts will recover.
Every woman is different, so the extent of your changes may be different than the changes experienced by your best friend. The list below is a partial list of what you may expect during pregnancy.
- Breast tenderness and changes in sensation
- Breast swelling and size increase
- Increase in visible veins
- Nipple changes (including size change, sensitivity change and increased prominence)
Breast changes after pregnancy
There are more changes that are possible during breastfeeding for mothers who choose to do so. You can find information about your breasts implants during lactation in this follow up article.
Will your breasts go back to normal after pregnancy?
After pregnancy and lactation, you can expect to have your breasts change in the process. The most often asked question is: “Will my breasts go back to normal?” Unfortunately, there is not one set answer for this question.
If you have had a child before your breast augmentation you can use your previous pregnancies as a guide to how your breasts will react after additional pregnancies.
But for women who have not had a previous pregnancy, the only answer is to look at the female family members around them—our mothers and sisters. Still, even this is a best guess.
The collagen and elastin in our breasts reduces as we age, so women who are younger and have fewer changes tend to see a closer return to their pre-pregnancy breasts. But any woman can experience permanent changes such as reduced breast tissue, looser skin, or the increased appearance of sag.
How long does it take for breasts to return to normal?
The second most common question is: “How long will it take for my breasts to be normal?” Again, this will depend on each woman.
For those who choose not to breastfeed, it will be at least three months before your hormones return to normal postpartum.
For those who choose to breastfeed, it can be three months or longer from the time you completely stop for hormones to return to normal. Even after you have completely stopped breastfeeding, you can still have milk expression for some time.
This is totally normal, but if you choose to explore secondary surgery, you will need to ensure regular milk production has stopped to prevent post-surgical infection and an increased risk of capsular contracture.
Post-pregnancy breasts & what to do about dissatisfaction
What happens when, after your breasts have established a "new normal" following birth or nursing a baby, you are no longer satisfied with the appearance of your breasts?
The solution will most likely be surgical and may involve a breast lift, an implant exchange for size, or a combination of both.
There are several options for non-surgical treatment for stretch marks, such as laser. All of these options can be discussed with your board-certified surgeon so you can decide the best plan for your post-baby breasts.
Created September 2016