Before or After: Pregnancy & Plastic Surgery
As plastic surgery becomes ever more commonplace and women learn what’s possible and reasonable in terms of changing their shape, one question remains for many:
Should I have cosmetic surgery before or after childbirth?
Just like other elective procedures, cosmetic surgeries are operations patients prefer to have just once. Therefore, many women opt to re-contour their bodies after they have completed their families. Indeed, the popular “Mommy Makeover” is combination surgery target specifically at women looking to shape up after pregnancy.
For some women, however, it may make sense to consider moving ahead with plastic surgery prior to having children. Here are a few procedures patients may elect before starting a family:
When women are bothered by breasts that are too small, out of proportion with the rest of their body or asymmetrical, breast augmentation is a reasonable step to take. Breast enlargement with implants (or in some cases, fat grafting), is a straightforward procedure involving relatively few risks and a recovery process that’s not difficult. What’s more, most women who have breast implant surgery can breastfeed successfully afterward.
If you’re considering breast augmentation prior to pregnancy, be sure to talk with your plastic surgeon about the long term. If you choose large implants, for instance, pregnancy and breastfeeding may hasten droopiness later on. And it is possible that your implants will need replacing at some point anyway, particularly if you have breast augmentation at a young age.
Breasts that are extra large can pose many problems, from unwanted attention to sore necks, rashes and more. Oversized breasts often develop at a fairly young age—making reduction surgery generally appealing to women sooner rather than later. For many, such as the young actress Ariel Winter, it just doesn’t make sense to wait. In fact, since breasts typically become heavier during childbearing, breast reduction surgery can be extra appealing to women who already struggle with oversized breasts.
Many patients can breastfeed after breast reduction, but there’s no guarantee. Generally, success depends on how much gland tissue is removed during the procedure. Women should have an in depth discussion about this aspect of surgery with their plastic surgeons.
Tummy Tuck Surgery
For most patients, waiting to have a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, until after pregnancy is the best choice. Women who lose a great deal of weight may be exceptions to this norm, especially when a significant amount of redundant skin is left behind. Loose skin can cause great discomfort—mainly physically but psychologically as well. A tummy tuck can remove the excess skin and tighten abdominal muscles, eliminating rashes and infections, and enabling patients to get more exercise and wear more comfortable clothing.
As an alternative, a weight loss patient can elect a procedure called a panniculectomy to remove just the excess belly skin. Then she can consider a full tummy tuck—including muscle repair—as needed after pregnancy.
Abdominoplasty should not interfere with a woman’s ability to carry a child in the future. It’s possible that one or more pregnancies may cause tissues to stretch and not rebound well—prompting thoughts of a second tummy tuck. Women can help by watching their weight gain and keeping fit throughout the childbearing process.
Deciding whether to have body contouring plastic surgery before or after pregnancy is not easy. It comes down to a trade off: Comfort and satisfaction right away, with the possibility of another surgery later? Or, postponing the chance to feel better now to avoid the risk of wanting a second procedure?
Naturally this is a very personal choice involving many factors, including:
• The degree of current discomfort
• Health concerns like rashes, infections and body aches
• How close pregnancy may be on the horizon
• Budget and time for recovery
An experienced, board certified plastic surgeon can assist. Women facing a decision like this can arrange a consultation and expect to receive expert input with no pressure to schedule surgery now or ever.
If you’re wondering which course of action is best for you, we would be delighted to help. Give us a call at 212-570-6080.
Pregnancy photo by Tatiana VDB, available under a Creative Commons attribution license