For moms who find that their breasts have been significantly altered by the effects of a pregnancy (and the subsequent process of breastfeeding), waiting for breast rejuvenation surgery can seem like an eternity. The most common question that I hear from my patients is: How long do I need to wait after giving birth before I can have undergo breast augmentation? Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward and certainly varies between patients. Los Angeles plastic surgeons, and those around the country may not agree entirely. Although every woman needs to be evaluated separately, here are a few general guidelines that you may find helpful:
1) The typical gestational period is 40 weeks long. Many womens breasts will undergo hormonally induced changes (enlargement, hypertrophy, skin stretching) over that 40 week period. Frequently, it can take an additional 40 weeks for the breasts to return to normal after delivery.
2)A lactating breast is a breast that should not undergo elective surgery! It is very difficult for a surgeon to operate on a breast that is actively producing milk. The flowing milk will decrease the accuracy of the operation, can form into pockets within the breast (i.e. lactocele) and can increase the risk of post-operative breast and breast implant infections. Once you stop breastfeeding your child, you should wait a minimum of six months before undergoing elective breast surgery (i.e. augmentation, reduction or mastopexy). Some surgeons prefer to have their patients wait a full year. This will allow the breast ducts ample time to return to their baseline structure and function. That being said, I have known patients to still secrete breast milk (albeit rarely) up to two years after stopping all breastfeeding.
3) Women universally gain weight during pregnancy; some of that weight gain occurs within the breast tissue. Breast tissue is comprised of both fibrous breast tissue (ligaments and ducts) as well as fatty breast tissue. Both components of the breast tissue will hypertrophy during a typical gestational period. While cessation of breast feeding activity will allow the ductal tissue to regress, the fatty breast tissue will only regress once a woman’s weight begins to approach her baseline (pre-pregnancy) weight. This process can take anywhere from six to twelve months.