The joys of motherhood are boundless but the effects of pregnancy on your body can sometimes be drastic. During pregnancy, your body can change in ways you never expected. Some women are lucky, and bounce right back to their pre-pregnancy bodies; others struggle to get close to what they looked like before having children.
A typical post-pregnancy breast problem
Your breasts were a perfect size and shape before and during pregnancy, but after breast-feeding they are a sagging or have lost tissue.
This happens because during pregnancy and even into breast-feeding, the breasts are greatly affected by hormonal changes. “Once these hormones decrease, the tissue deflates,” says Orlando, FL, plastic surgeon Armando Soto, MD.
Breast enhancement—such as augmenting with implants or a breast lift—can restore shape and size to your breasts, even making them bigger and fuller than they were before you got pregnant. “When upper pole fullness is lost, it needs to be restored with implants,” says Orange County, CA, plastic surgeon Al Aly, MD.
Mt. Pleasant, SC, plastic surgeon Thomas Hahm, MD, adds, “In general breast augmentation creates a larger size with small changes in the nipple height.” With two different implants to choose from—saline and silicone—and a few different placement and incision options, too, your plastic surgeon can fill your breasts out just a little or take you substantially larger. “For those who want to look most natural, silicone implants are usually the better options,” says Dr. Armando Soto.
It’s important to know that post-pregnancy breast augmentation patients may not be candidates for implant placement through the armpit if their breasts are droopy. “It may be more appropriate to place the implant through an incision around the nipple or in the breast crease so the surgeon can manipulate and adjust the tissues,” says Dallas, TX, plastic surgeon Jeffrey Kenkel, MD. Incision placement is a key area of concern, so always consult with your surgeon in your pre-op evaluation.
Types of Breast Enhancements
Breast lift: If you want a long-lasting solution to sagging breasts or loss of breast volume, you may want to consider a breast lift. But just lifting the breast won’t solve the problem in everyone.
“If there is a loss of volume and sagging skin, then you probably need a lift and implant to recapture the shape,” says New York, NY, plastic surgeon Elie Levine, MD. “A breast lift leaves behind more scarring than an augmentation does. For those who are opposed to the idea of having large scars on their breasts, and are good candidates, going with implants that may be a bit larger will give some lift and produce far smaller scars,” says New York plastic surgeon Alan Matarasso, MD.
If you’re satisfied with the size of your breasts but you just want them to sit a little higher, then a breast lift may be the surgical solution for you. Breasts sag after pregnancy because of stretched-out skin and underlying supporting tissue. Breast appearance can be improved by removing excess skin.
To restore pre-pregnancy perkiness, a breast lift reduces the excess skin and remodels the breast tissue so it can assume a higher position. There are a variety of breast incision placement options, and some women can benefit from newer, more limited incision techniques that allow for smaller and perhaps fewer incisions for less scarring. Regardless of the approach your surgeon deems best for you, it’s important to know that all breast lift surgery results in scars that typically go from the nipple down to the breast crease, and possibly along the breast crease as well.
Breast implants: Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel says, “Most post-pregnancy patients just want to be the same breast size they were before or just a little bigger, and in the right woman, implants alone can restore fullness and add projection.” If you’re happy with the position of your breasts but you’d like them to be a little fuller, implants can help replace the breast tissue that diminishes after having a baby, and may even be able to eliminate the need for a breast lift as long as you have healthy, elastic skin and no excessive drooping. In addition to enhancing breast size, implants can also help restore pre-pregnancy firmness.