Is there a right time to get a breast augmentation? Many women ask this question. Despite the pros and cons of having surgery at any time, there are some specific times when the procedure may be more appropriate than others.
How does breast augmentation work?
A breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammaplasty, is a plastic surgery procedure to increase the size of the breasts. Fat makes up your breasts, and your surgeon may be able to increase their volume.
An augmentation can alter the size or shape of the breasts or both. The procedure produces natural-looking and long-lasting results. Many patients turn to it to improve self-confidence, achieve their desired aesthetic, or restore the size and shape of their breasts after a mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Generally, patients of all ages who are in good health can undergo breast augmentation surgery safely. However, different stages of life come with different considerations. Choosing the right time to undergo breast augmentation can help you achieve the best outcome.
Is there an optimal age for choosing breast augmentation surgery?
If you are considering having breast augmentation surgery, you should consult a board-certified plastic surgeon before making a decision. Having said that, physical health is generally more important than chronological age when deciding when to undergo a breast augmentation. The FDA only approves silicone implants for ages 22 and up.
Younger patients and continuing development
Generally, physicians recommend that patients wait until their bodies have finished developing before getting breast augmentations. Typically, this means waiting until they are at least 18 years old and preferably after 22.
If a patient has cancer and needs reconstructive surgery, these recommendations do not apply. Reconstructive surgery patients can get a breast augmentation at any time.
Considerations for older patients
There is no upper age limit for breast augmentation surgery, but like many surgeries, this procedure involves general anesthesia. More than age, what matters is that the patient is healthy enough that they can undergo general anesthesia without undue risk.
Breast augmentation before and after having children
Many patients have a breast augmentation long before they even consider having children.
For these patients, waiting a decade or more to have surgery to improve their confidence makes no sense. However, if you think you may one day want to have children and breastfeed them, this is important information to share with your plastic surgeon.
The procedure does not affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant, carry a healthy child to term, or give birth. Pregnancy often involves weight gain, which may be followed by weight loss, but this should not change the aesthetic results of a patient’s implants.
Despite this, some patients may also experience ptosis or drooping breasts after pregnancy. Ptosis can be corrected surgically with a mastopexy, also known as a breast lift. Mastopexies differ from breast augmentations, but both procedures can be done at the same time.
Patients planning to breastfeed in the future should discuss their plans with their plastic surgeon during the initial consultation.
An implant does not interfere with someone’s ability to breastfeed, but incisions around the areola may disrupt milk ducts, affecting milk transfer to the nipple. During the consultation, the plastic surgeon can explain the risks to the patient so that they can make an informed decision. Almost all women who undergo breast augmentation successfully breastfeed.
To ensure the body fully heals after pregnancy, patients should wait at least three months after stopping breastfeeding for breast augmentation. However, patients can start planning for a breast augmentation at any time and can schedule a consultation up until six months postpartum.
Focus on emotional and physical health pre-surgery
Before undergoing surgery, a patient’s physical and emotional health is of special importance.
Generally, the healthier a patient is going into surgery, the easier the recovery process will be.
Before the surgery, patients should:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Continue to exercise
- Drink lots of water
- Avoid smoking
- Refrain from alcohol
- Manage any underlying health concerns
Stress and other emotional health issues can have a real impact on the body’s physical health. Patients should prioritize their mental health at all times, especially in the weeks before surgery.
Recovery period post-surgery
Patients should plan for a recovery period after surgery and allow themselves enough time to heal. Doing so can help ensure the best results and accelerate recovery.
If patients follow their plastic surgeon’s suggestions, they can usually return to work within a few days of the procedure.
After the surgery, maintaining good health is also important, but the body needs time to recover before it is ready to handle the physical stress of exercise.
The patient’s recovery process will determine how long they should wait before returning to lower body exercise, such as walking or spinning. Ideally, you should wait four to six weeks before returning to full-body exercises like yoga or core exercises.
Ideally, you should also wear the postoperative bra for the first few weeks after surgery to optimize results. Also, patients must attend their regular follow-up doctor’s appointments and keep their medical team informed during recovery.
Breast augmentation is a personal choice that should be made at the right time for every individual. Making this decision involves many factors, such as age, lifestyle, and health. If you are considering this procedure, speak to a board-certified plastic surgeon to find out if it is right for you.