Will Pregnancy Ruin my Breast Implants?

I had breast enlargement surgery 15 months ago, I am pregnant again and am wondering if  this will ruin my breast implants? I had the implant under the muscle but I am worried I will regain that saggy look again.

Doctor Answers 163

The implants will be fine - but your breasts may change

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Pregnancy will have no effect on the integrity of your implants. So there is no need to worry about that. But the stretching and shrinking of the breast tissue during pregnancy and breast feeding may cause changes that could require some future surgery. Either bigger implants or a lift may be in your future. But MAYBE NOT! So you need to not worry, have a safe and healthy pregnancy, and visit with your plastic surgeon after all is done and discuss these issues. By that time, you will probably know if anything is needed even before you see the doctor.

The effect of pregnancy on breast implants result.

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Congratulations on your pregnancy. Pregnancy does not effect the breast implant but can effect the result of your breast augmentation.

During pregnancy the breast becomes engorged with milk and after breast feeding is finished the breast gland atrophies or becomes smaller. The breast skin is often left stretched and can sag after the gland has become smaller. Typically the breast implant does not sag along with the breast so that after pregnancy the breast implant stays in position but the breast sags down off of the implant. This can be corrected with a breast lift.

This does not always happen and many women go through pregnancy with breast implants and look just fine after pregnancy. However, the risk of sag may be a little greater with a submuscular implant as they tend to ride a little higher than subglandular implants.

If you do develop some sag after your pregnancy a breast lift should be able to restore the pre- pregnancy appearance of your breast implants.

Tough Question-But, You Can Look for Clues to Help You Decide!

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Breasts are a moving target!  They change throughout your life!  Three things might happen after your pregnancy: your breasts might get smaller (very common), get bigger (common, especially with weight gain), or stay the same (sometimes).  How do you know?  No one can predict what will happen to you, but you can make a reasonable judgement.  Look at your female family members for clues.  What happened to your Mom or Grandma?  What happened to your sister's breasts with pregnancy and lactation?  Use these clues to help predict what might happen to you in your travel through the pregnancy and lactation phases of your life.  It is not much to go on, but it is the only realistic clue you have to base your prediction on.  

Let's assume you get a breast augmentation done, and then you get pregnant.  I can't predict for certain what will happen to you, but in my 20 years of experience, more often than not, the breasts are not as good as they could be if the patient had waited until finishing her family before making a decision to get a breast augmentation.

What happens after pregnancy?   Some patients will have Upper Pole Deflation- that ski jump shape to the upper part of the breast that has lost volume.  Other patients have severe ptosis (doc-talk for droopy breasts).  Many or most patients will have changes to the nipple areolar complex (NAC), with a darker color, wider areola (the colored part around the nipple) and enlargement of the nipple.  These changes are not completely predictable beforehand.  

Almost ALL women will experience engorgement of the breast and significant enlargement during pregnancy and lactation.  If there is an implant present underneath the breast,  the skin stretching that occurs during this process will create extra skin that may, or may not go away after the end of the process ( usually not).  The presence of the implant then causes extra stretching to occur that would not have occurred  if the implant were not there.  In many of these patients, if they did not have implants beforehand, I can restore the volume with an implant, and that will be enough to correct the problem.  Women that have implants in place may need a breast lift instead.

   Your decision should be based on whether you can live without the enhancement of your breasts until after you have finished creating your family.  If you know from your family history that you are likely going to want a breast lift in your future, then you might decide to go ahead before creating your family, since you are likely to want one anyways.  On the other hand, if your family history suggests that your breasts may return to 'normal' (more or less) after pregnancy except for some loss of volume, you may decide to wait until after your family is finished to get the volume you want, because otherwise you may need to get a breast lift, with the associated breast scars that no one really wants.

Claudio DeLorenzi, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon

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Effect pregnancy has on implants varies from woman to woman

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When you become pregnant, your breasts go through changes due to the hormonal fluxes in your body—they enlarge, and sometimes change shape. In some rare cases, these changes are permanent, and pregnancy can actually leave you with fuller breasts. Generally, however, these changes are temporary, and last only until you have stopped breast-feeding your baby, after which point your breasts will go back to a smaller size. When this occurs—especially if your breasts changed size significantly during your pregnancy—you may develop stretch marks or lose breast tissue and experience sagging when your breasts return to their former size.

While such changes are obviously not very appealing, breast implants do not really have any bearing on the extent to which sagging or stretch marks will occur. Such side effects can manifest whether or not you have had breast surgery—across the board, plastic surgeons agree that implants do not tend to cause complications or exacerbate the aftereffects of pregnancy upon your breasts. Stretchmarks, for instance, are genetically linked, so implants will not increase your chances of getting them unless you are already prone to developing them. Furthermore, breast implants should not impair your ability to breast-feed: augmentation surgery can be done without affecting how your milk ducts or nipples function.

The effect that pregnancy has upon the breasts varies from woman to woman, making it difficult to predict exactly how your breasts will look afterward. A number of factors—including your age, your inherent skin quality, whether or not you’re a smoker, and the extent of your breast tissue enlargement—play a part in determining the end results of pregnancy in an individual; you won’t really know what’s going to happen until you are no longer lactating. Keep in mind, however, that what kind of implants you have makes a difference. Subpectoral implants—implants that are underneath the muscle in your chest—are supported and buffered by the muscles surrounding them, so the changes to your breast tissue do not affect them. Subglandular implants, however—implants placed above the muscle in the breasts—rely on the breast tissue itself for support, and so are more likely to fall after pregnancy. On a more positive note, if you are someone who has a particularly tight skin envelope before your pregnancy, the stretching that you’ll experience when your breast size increases may actually be beneficial—it can actually make your breasts look more natural afterward.

If you haven't gotten your breast implants yet and plan to have a baby soon, your doctor may advise you to wait until after your pregnancy to have surgery done, since it’s impossible to know exactly how your breasts will respond to pregnancy until you’re going through it. Also, if you experience extreme changes in breast size during pregnancy and while breast-feeding, you may want to consider getting some work done post-pregnancy if your breasts don’t return to a size and shape you’re happy with. If this occurs, consult with your doctor three to six months after you stop lactating to find out if this is a step you should take.

Usha Rajagopal, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Pregnancy will not ruin your breast implants but it may be hard on your breasts.

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Your breasts will respond physiologically to pregnance the same with or without breast implants.  Some women can have multiple pregnancies and breast feed with little impact on the appearance of the breasts.  Others might see dramatic changes with even one pregancy.  Your implants will not hurt nor help the changes that pregnancy might bring.

The Ancient Implant Ruins

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During and after pregnancy your breast implants themselves will remain unchanged. What may change is your breast tissue. Lactating (milk producing) breast tissue enlarges and stretches the skin. When the breast stops producing milk the breast tissue will shrink down. Whether the skin is capable of shrinking down as well depends on many factors, such as your age, inherent skin quality, smoking, sun exposure, the amount of breast tissue enlargement. So, unfortunately, you will not know what the effect of the pregnancy will be on your breast appearance until the whole process is completed and you are no longer lactating. At that time, a follow up visit for consultation with your board certified plastic surgeon will help to guide you in determining what, if anything, needs to be done. Don't forget that you should be following up with your board certified plastic surgeon on an annual basis anyway for routine implant checks. Good luck.

There are many variables that may affect your appearance after another baby

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There are many variables that may affect the final appearnace of the breast after another baby.

These are similar to the considerations for how much your abdominal skin and contour will recover.

How many pregnancies, how much did the skin of the breast stretch during pregnancy or breast feeding, pre -existing stretch marks, the size of the implants, history of smoking? All of these and more can affect the natural remaining elasticity of the breast skin.

Wearing a good support bra may help.

Enjoy your new baby.

John E. Gross, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Will pregnancy ruin my breast implants?

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Pregnancy will not have any actual effect on the implants, but the skin will stretch and there may be some sagging.  But that depends on genetics and luck. The bigger the implants the more likely, I think, for the stretching of pregnancy to be increased. 

Consider that many women get breast implants for the first time after pregnancy, and they do not need a lift. The Mommy Makeover often includes breast augmentation as well as tummy tuck, but not necessarily a lift.

Some women will need or want a lift after pregnancy, some will not.  I do not think there is any way to predict beforehand.

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Your implants will be fine

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During and after pregnancy your implants will remain the same. However, there is a chance that your breast tissue may change. Since you have been pregnant before, you are aware of all the changes your body goes through, especially the changes your breast go through during pregnancy and after breast feeding. Unfortunately there is no way for a physician to determine if you will get that saggy look again until after you have had your baby and you are done breast feeding.

I wish you a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Congratulations!

Chia Chi Kao, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Breast implants and pregnancy

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Thank you for your question.

Pregnancy will not disturb your breast augmentation and will definitely not ruin your breast implants. Millions of women have had breast augmentation surgery with both saline and silicone breast implants prior to having their first pregnancy.

That being said - pregnancy can change the shape and volume of your natural breast tissue. Your implants will be fine. Most commonly, women come back after having children requesting a larger implant because they have lost some of the natural volume to their breasts. Another request is for a lift, due to excess skin stretch with pregnancy and breast-feeding.

I hope this helps.

- Dr. Bryson Richards (Board Certified Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon)

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.