Having children changes everything, as the saying goes, but does this hold true for plastic surgery as well? People who have gotten procedures in the past might wonder how they'll be affected by the many changes that go along with pregnancy. If you're concerned about what happens to breast implants after pregnancy, then you're far from alone. It's a super common concern.
First, it's helpful to understand just how popular breast implant procedures really are, because plenty of people have them. The top cosmetic procedure in the United States, breast augmentation procedures numbered at 313,735 for 2018, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. When you consider the number of surgeries done in previous years, as well as the worldwide popularity of plastic surgery, it's easy to see why concerns about pregnancy, breastfeeding, and breast implants are all very common and expected.
To learn more, Romper spoke with two experts on the subject. Dr. Constance Chen, a board-certified plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist, provided some excellent (and reassuring) insight on the topic; Dr. Adetola Louis-Jacques, a member of ACOG’s breastfeeding expert work group, also added expert input to the conversation. Read on to find out what really happens to breast implants after pregnancy.
1. Pregnancy itself doesn't really affect implants
For the most part, breast implants are unaffected by the growth and delivery of a baby. "Nothing much happens to breast implants during a pregnancy," says Dr. Chen. Unlike the rest of the body, they are unaffected by the many changes pregnancy brings about. "The breast implants don’t do much of anything, they just sit and do not grow or shrink," as Dr. Chen further explains. Really, the implants just kind of hang out during this time.
2. Implants might be less noticeable
Changes happening around the implants may create some noticeable differences, however. "The milk ducts in the breast engorge with milk so that the breasts grow naturally," says Dr. Chen. "Since the breasts become bigger, the implants may become less noticeable." This is only temporary, however, and the breasts will likely return to their usual size (more or less) once breastfeeding is complete.
3. Breastfeeding is usually not affected
This is great news for anyone concerned about attempting to breastfeed after getting breast implants. "Breast implants are not known to affect a person’s ability to breastfeed," says Dr. Chen. "About 50 percent of women are able to nourish their baby exclusively via their own breast milk, which is about the same percentage as women who have undergone breast surgery, including breast implants." For the most part, this type of surgery does not appear to hinder the ability to breastfeed later on.
That said, it's important to work with a surgeon who understands the importance of placement. "However, the location of incision, and where the implants are placed are important to note," says Dr. Louis-Jacques. "Breast surgery that affects milk ducts or nerves around the nipple may impact breastfeeding." If you haven't had the surgery yet, then discuss the location of the implants with your doctor.
4. The shape of the breast might change
Sometimes the shape of the breast may not look the same after breastfeeding. "After a woman finishes breastfeeding, the breasts involute and the breast tissue shrinks back down," says Dr. Chen. "Sometimes the skin elasticity is insufficient, and the skin does not shrink back down to where it was." If you want to change the shape of your breast after breastfeeding is complete, then discuss the options with your doctor.
5. Future doctor visits might be affected
Breast implants can impact an individual's future visits to the doctor, so it's important to be aware of this beforehand. "Implants may make it difficult to see some parts of the breast during screening," says Dr. Louis-Jacques, which is why it's important to let the technician know if you have implants beforehand. The tech may need to take more pictures to get the full visualization.
If you have specific concerns about your implants, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or anything else health-related, then definitely talk them over with your doctor. Just know that, for the most part, breast implants will be pretty much the same after pregnancy.