When is the 'Right' Time to Have a Breast Augmentation?

This is a Q&A with one of my favorite plastic surgeons!

As a plastic surgeon when do you think women should get a breast augmentation?

The quick answer: anytime

The better answer: It depends on you.

The decisions surrounding breast augmentation are very personal. This is a surgery to effect a very real change to your body. Decisions about this surgery (like timing, implant type, size, etc.) are very individualized and must be thought about by the individual undergoing surgery.

It shouldn’t be rushed into or done on a whim.

It is important to be thoughtful about this procedure. I want to ensure my patients are of sound mind and judgment. This is an invasive surgery with lifelong results. Most women nowadays interested in this surgery take the time to educate themselves about the procedure.

How do you help women get educated about getting breast implants?

In my office, I help to ensure each woman is fully informed about her options and decisions. Our website even offers videos to view animated surgery for further education.

During the consultation, each patient is offered the chance to see and feel the different types of breast implants (saline, silicone, “gummy bears”), as well as try on “sizers” to get a feel of what the end result might look like. We discuss the risks of the surgery and what to expect in the post-operative period.

Should women wait to get breast implants until after having kids?

Some women choose to have breast augmentation as soon as possible, while others wait until after they are finished having children. There is no perfect or magic answer as to the right time to have surgery. But, there are some recommendations or guidelines.

The issue of breastfeeding should not be of major concern.

Neither the saline or silicone gel breast implants should effect the ability to breastfeed if the incision is placed under the breast (the most commonly used incision site). If, however, the incision is made around the nipple some of the connections to the milk glands could be severed and this may make breastfeeding more difficult or unsuccessful. Neither implant type “leaks” into the breast milk, so there is no risk of contaminating your milk with implant material.

If you choose to breastfeed, your breasts will expand with the milk production. After you stop breastfeeding, the breast tissue regresses or shrinks, oftentimes back down to their original size. Sometimes, the upper aspect of the breasts becomes somewhat deflated.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell who will have deflation issues and who will not. For those who will experience troubles with deflation, we typically see this happen after the second or third child, but not always.

For this potential issue, some women prefer to wait until they are finished having children to undergo breast augmentation. If they need a lift, this can usually be accomplished at the same time.

Others want to enjoy the results of the surgery when they are younger and choose not to wait the many years until after having children. Once again, this is a personal decision.

Should women bring a friend with them to their consultation?

Absolutely! Many women bring in a friend or a loved one in during the consultation for support, and I whole-heartedly encourage this. This person can lend a second set of ears to remember what was said during the consultation and can truly help during the recovery period.

Unfortunately, it seems some women feel they need the approval of their decisions from this special person. I caution against this. At the end of the day, the surgery is done on your body and you alone will have to live with the decisions you made and the results you requested.

It is nice to have support of loved ones, but the approval of your carefully thought-out decision should be your own.

Breast augmentation surgery can be an exciting time in a woman’s life. It is a quick procedure, an easy recovery with minimal downtime, and delivers life-changing results. But, it is still a surgery, with very real risks and potential complications. I encourage each of you considering breast augmentation to research the procedure thoroughly, understand all your options, choose a surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and be thoughtful about what timing is right for you for breast augmentation.

I wish you the best of luck!