Transition, family, growth: all words I have heard my patients use to describe the changes they experience in their 30s and 40s. As a plastic surgeon here on Long Island, I aim to guide my patients through these changes with their health and beauty in mind.
This is my second of 3 blog posts discussing the way women’s breasts and implants change over time. In the first post, we discussed how breasts change for women in their 20s and some of the things they should consider before undergoing procedures such as breast augmentation. Now, let’s look at common experiences for women in the next chapter of life and how their breasts and implants can change at this time.
Starting a Family
During pregnancy: It’s no secret that many women’s bodies undergo some drastic changes during pregnancy, birth, and nursing. Fatty tissue in the breasts often develops during pregnancy, increasing breast size. Additionally, the mammary glands grow larger as they prepare to produce breast milk. These factors combined often cause a drastic change in breast size, sometimes resulting in stretch marks and tenderness.
During breastfeeding: Nursing can also cause changes in the breasts, both in size and shape. This is especially true if the baby favors one breast over the other, causing the tissue of that breast to become more stretched and sag more. Though implants should not affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed, their position in the breast may change slightly during breastfeeding. While it shouldn’t cause discomfort, it is still something to be aware of.
After breastfeeding: After having children and breastfeeding, tissue shrinks again. At this time, the combination of lost volume and stretched skin can cause breasts to become flat or sag. This is a perfect time to undergo a breast augmentation, breast lift, or mommy makeover. These treatments can help restore the appearance and structure of a woman’s body, lifting and tightening the breasts and abdomen and reducing lose skin.
I often recommended that women wait until they are done having children before undergoing breast augmentation, lift, or revision. Additional childbearing and nursing can quickly alter the results of breast surgery.
Weight Gain & Loss
A variety of factors can cause weight gain and loss: Stress from work, pregnancy, hormones, or changes in diet and lifestyle only skim the surface. While weight changes are often most physically noticeable around the stomach and bottom, these fluctuations can also affect the shape, size, and position of the breasts.
Weight gain can cause breasts to enlarge due to the development of more fatty tissue. Depending on a woman’s genetic history, this may even be the first place fat develops. If weight gain occurs quickly, stretch marks may appear, as during pregnancy.
If a woman has implants during a weight gain, the development of fatty tissue may also alter the position of the implants within the breasts. Additionally, the shape of the breasts may change slightly.
Similar situations can occur when weight is lost. As breasts shrink, implants may settle into uneven positions. If weight loss is significant, breast tissue may begin to sag as the stretched skin loses volume. This sagging (clinically known as “ptosis”) tends to be more dramatic for older women who have lost some of their skin elasticity.
Whether a woman has breast implants or just extra skin, surgery is often the only way to help rejuvenate this part of the body after weight changes and sagging occur. This may include a revisionary breast augmentation and sometimes a breast lift to raise the position of the breast tissue and remove extra skin.
Replacement of Breast Implants
One common myth I try to dispel with my Long Island breast augmentation patients is that breast implants must be replaced every 10 years. With the use of high-quality implants, expert placement from a board-certified plastic surgeon, and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, most women can go much longer than 10 years without having implants revised or replaced. However, implants don’t last forever, and the position or size of existing implants may have to be adjusted, depending on the changes that a woman’s body goes through. So although you don’t need to plan to exchange your implants every 10 years, it is good to think ahead.
If you enjoyed the last 2 posts, I encourage you to visit our blog again in a few weeks to read our final post on how your breasts and implants change in your 50s and 60s.