Mommy Makeover Series: Breast Surgery

Most women are prepared for the fact that their breasts will change during pregnancy, but much less is said about how the breasts change after pregnancy. New moms are usually so focused on losing their “baby weight” in the months following childbirth that they hardly spare a thought for the condition of their breasts… Other than to note that breastfeeding burns a lot of calories. Unfortunately, this leaves many women ill-prepared for the sometimes harsh realities of post-pregnancy breast changes.

How Do the Breasts Change After Pregnancy?

Breast changes do, of course, vary from woman to woman. Some of this variation results from genetic and hormonal factors, but other factors like lactation and breastfeeding can affect the shape of the breasts. Because it causes fluctuations in the shape and size of the breasts, lactation and breastfeeding can wreak havoc on your breasts.

Many women notice that as soon as they cease breastfeeding, their breasts appear smaller, and in some cases, saggier. This effect may not be extremely noticeable in some women, especially women who began pregnancy with very small breasts (i.e., A cups). One Vogue writer, Patricia Garcia, noted her experience with breast feeding:

“Once I gave birth, my breasts enlarged to epic new proportions. I had to buy a new set of bras, and I now understood why they call the period when your milk comes in as ‘engorgement.’ For the next few months, my chest would undergo a series of swelling and shrinking transformations several times a day. One time, I dared to skip a feeding to go out to dinner, and by the time I got home, my chest resembled Pamela Anderson’s circa the Baywatch years… After I went back to work and started breastfeeding less, I noticed that my body started going through yet another series of changes. My hair began falling out by the handful, my freckles became darker, and, most noticeably, my chest had gotten significantly smaller—and saggier.”

The daily expanding and contracting mentioned by Garcia places an enormous amount of stress on the skin of the breasts. At the same time, the fact that the breast gland (which is responsible for milk production) expands during pregnancy, only to shrink down to a size that is often smaller than before after breastfeeding, accounts for the overall reduction in breast volume she observed. This means that not only do most women have some skin laxity owing to months of repeated expansion, the amount of skin they had prior to pregnancy is now too large for their shrunken breasts.

While there are many creams available on the market that promise to firm up saggy post-pregnancy breasts, they will never have the same results that plastic surgery can provide. Because creams cannot access the supportive tissues beneath the dermis, they cannot possibly do anything more than make your skin temporarily feel softer and more supple. Exercise, too, is ineffective. No amount of exercise can get rid of loose skin, after all.

Finally, it’s important to note that not all women experience a reduction in breast size after breastfeeding. Though it’s rare (as compared to breast shrinkage), post-pregnancy breast growth is certainly a very real possibility as well.

For some women, post-pregnancy breast growth is a dream come true: It gives them the full bust they have always wanted and minimizes the risk of immediate sagging following breastfeeding. For others, however, it can be something of a nightmare. If a woman who started out with D cups grows two more sizes due to pregnancy, she may find herself struggling to find clothing that fits her properly. She may also have to deal with chronic back pain and the constant hassle of unwanted male attention. Finally, she will face a much higher risk of breast sagging over time owing to the heaviness of her breasts. In this case, a procedure like a breast reduction might be more apt.

Mommy Makeover Breast Surgery: Exploring Your Options

Fortunately, no matter what type of post-pregnancy breast issue a woman is facing, there is a cosmetic procedure that can help restore her bust to its former size and shape. For women experiencing sagging, there is the breast lift; for women who are unhappy with the volume loss they have noticed in their breasts, there is breast augmentation. For those women who gain an uncomfortable amount of breast volume during pregnancy, there is breast reduction surgery. That’s why one or more of these procedures are almost always included in what is known as a “mommy makeover,” a comprehensive set of plastic surgery procedures designed to correct the various types of damage done to the body by pregnancy and childbirth. Below, we will examine the various forms of breast surgery that plastic surgeons use during mommy makeovers:

Breast Augmentation

Most women already know what breast augmentation surgery entails, though they are more likely to refer to this procedure as “getting breast implants.” What is less well known, however, is how much breast augmentation can improve the appearance of the breasts after pregnancy. Some women may be reticent to even consider the option of breast implants because they believe that this type of breast surgery always produces “fake” looking results… But that is simply not the case. Most of the breast augmentations that have become visible in the media look obvious only because the celebrity in question has chosen to get implants that are far too large for her frame or lack the amount of natural breast tissue needed to properly cover a large implant. These are some of the factors lead to the overly round, “ball like” look many people associate with implants.

With the right surgeon, the patient will be able to have the right-sized implant, so the shape of the implant itself will not be visible. Instead, a breast augmentation will merely restore fullness to the breast. The right surgeon will also take great pains to create proportional breasts that look natural when compared to the rest of the woman’s body.

Breast augmentation surgery has evolved thanks to the advanced materials and surgical techniques plastic surgeons use today. Gone are the days when saline implants were the only option. Today, surgeons can use implants made out of 100% biocompatible silicone gel. These implants can be precisely shaped (either round or teardrop shaped) to create the right effect, and their texture very closely resembles natural breast tissue. Furthermore, the surgeon can place the implants in ways that will look natural with the woman’s body. The end result of these innovative techniques is an augmented breast that looks perfectly balanced with the woman’s body.

In summation, if you’re a new mom and you miss the breast volume you used to have, then breast augmentation surgery can help you. This procedure can completely revitalize your breasts, and if you choose an implant size that is in keeping with your frame, no one else will even know you’ve had breast augmentation.

Breast Lift

Women who wish to correct breast sagginess (without increasing breast volume) will want to opt for a breast lift. During a breast lift, excess skin is removed from the breasts and the nipples are usually re-positioned so that they once again point “north” rather than “south.” This produces perky, shapely breasts that look very youthful.

Note that it’s entirely possible to combine breast lift surgery with breast augmentation surgery. Dr. Silverton can lift your breasts at the same time as he inserts implants, essentially meeting two different objectives with a single surgical procedure. This will save you time and money.

Breast Reduction

For those women who are struggling with overly large breasts, a breast reduction surgery can be incredibly freeing. After having breast reduction surgery, you will be able to exercise comfortably, find clothing more easily, and enjoy a lack of back pain. Many women also report feeling much less self-conscious after having this procedure.

During breast reduction surgery. Dr. Silverton will remove both fat and glandular tissue from the breasts via a series of incisions around the breast. Once this is complete, he will lift the breasts and reposition the nipples. As a result, not only does breast reduction surgery get rid of uncomfortable excess breast volume, it produces much more shapely and attractive breasts. (Many women with very large breasts suffer from a condition where the breasts become oblong in shape rather than round. Breast reduction surgery can correct this issue.)

Preparing for Breast Surgery

Before scheduling a consultation, you should make sure that you are in excellent overall health. In order to be a good candidate for breast surgery, you must be free of outstanding medical conditions and you must be six months postpartum (or more). You must also be a current non-smoker. Avoiding smoking for at least three weeks before and after your breast surgery is essential because smoking impairs the body’s ability to heal.

In terms of recovery, you should expect to take at least two to three weeks off of work in order to heal. You will also need to enlist aid with childcare duties as you will probably need to rest in bed for at least a week after having breast surgery. You must also avoid lifting more than 20 pounds or placing any kind of weight or pressure on your chest. Dr. Silverton will provide you with more detailed recovery instructions during your consultation.

Once you have healed from your breast surgery, you’ll be able to face life as a mom with renewed confidence and vigor. During pregnancy, many women feel like their bodies suddenly no longer belong to them, and this feeling can be disconcerting. In addition to providing aesthetic improvements, having a mommy makeover can be a powerful way for a woman to reassert ownership over her body. This in turn leads to an improved relationship with her spouse, her children, and above all, herself.

To learn more about what a mommy makeover can do for you, contact Dr. Silverton’s office for a consultation.