Pregnancy and breast feeding can take a toll on a woman’s breast. The hormonal changes as well as the temporary enlargement of the breasts that occurs can lead to significant changes to a woman’s breast. Women that come to our Tucson, Arizona office are often interested in returning their breasts back to their pre-pregnancy appearance, and often wonder how long they have to wait after they stop breast feeding until they can safely and successfully undergo a breast augmentation, breast lift or breast reduction surgery.
I recommend to my patients that they wait six months from the time they stop breast feeding before they undergo breast surgery. Breast feeding leads to enlargement of the breasts- typically after breast feeding is stopped the size of the breasts will decrease. It takes approximately 6 months for the breasts to normalize with respect to size and consistency after cessation of breast feeding. If you proceed with surgery too quickly after stopping breast feeding, it may lead to improper implant sizing. For example, if your breasts are still enlarged from breast feeding, you may incorrectly select a smaller size breast implant than you might have chosen otherwise if you had allowed your breast to completely normalize.
After breast feeding in addition to losing volume, the consistency of the breast tissue may also change, both of which may result in you needing a breast lift. A breast lift is a procedure where the nipple level is elevated to counteract the sagging and drooping that often occurs after breast feeding. Breast lift surgery can be performed on its own, or in conjunction with another procedure such as a breast augmentation.
Another reason for waiting six months after breast feeding is to make certain that milk production has completely subsided. Whether it is a breast reduction, breast lift or breast augmentation surgery, breast tissue is incised during surgery. If the milk ducts are still producing milk and they are incised during surgery, it could lead to a collection of milk around a breast implant or lead to drainage of breast milk from the incision which has the potential to cause infection.
To avoid miscalculation of implant sizing, to better judge if a breast lift is also recommended in the setting of augmentation, and to avoid an increased risk of infection if residual milk production is still ongoing, I recommend that women wait at least six months after stopping breast feeding before considering a breast augmentation, breast reduction, or breast lift surgery.