Let’s be honest: sharing your body with another human being can take a toll. While breastfeeding is celebrated for everything from weight loss to increased immunity, the other side of it includes long-term effects on the body that are not always easy to embrace. Mothers can experience a number of changes in breast shape, size and even color while breastfeeding.
Beverly Hill plastic surgeon Dr. Brent Moelleken shared that one patient described her breasts as “tube socks,” while breastfeeding. “It’s nice in cases like that to be restored to a normal appearance,” he said. If you are currently looking to remedy the effects of breastfeeding, here are a few procedures that can help.
Concern: Sagging Breasts
Remedy: Breast Lift
To restore shape and volume, consider a breast lift (mastopexy). During the procedure, the nipple and areola are shifted to a higher position to create a more natural look. A lift doesn’t significantly change breast size, which is why some women may also choose to get breast implants for additional volume. Implants can be placed at the same time the breast lift is done.
“Patients seeking breast lifts come in all age groups and demographics,” says Dr. John Nguyen, a Houston plastic surgeon. “Some have had significant weight loss and/or children, which can affect the breasts to varying degrees.”
There are three types of breast lifts, which depend on the incision type. The first is the donut, Benelli, or circumareolar technique, which is achieved by making a donut-shaped incision around the areola. The lollipop technique uses incisions to circle the areola and extend downward. This option can be used for moderate to severe sagging correction. Lastly, the anchor technique starts with lollipop incisions, then adds a horizontal incision along the breast crease. This procedure is an excellent option for extreme cases of sagging. Read more about all these types of incisions in our breast lift guide.
Average recovery time for any breast lift is typically one week. According to Dr. Ted Eisenberg, a Philadelphia plastic surgeon, women report minimal discomfort after the surgery.
Worth It Rating: 94%
Remedy: Breast Augmentation or Breast Fat Transfer
“A procedure some moms may consider is breast augmentation, either with or without a breast lift,” says Dr. Moelleken. “They find that their breast volume shrinks after they stop breastfeeding, sometimes alarmingly. Most moms don’t want to be very large after their breast augmentations, they just want to replace what is missing due to breastfeeding.”
Breast fat transfer uses liposuction to move a woman’s fat from areas like the thighs and stomach to their breasts to increase natural volume. While fat transfer will increase the size of the breasts, implants are a better option for those seeking a fuller or larger cup size.
Breast implant surgery typically takes between one to three hours, depending on the implant used and the doctor’s technique.
“Breast implant recovery goes through some predictable stages,” says Dr. Rady Rahban, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, in this Q&A. “Initially, the breasts are tight, swollen and possibly very painful. Over the next six weeks, there is a significant amount of settling. By three months, I would say 90 percent of the swelling has resolved, and the breasts are soft and look more natural. Of course, everything has to do with your anatomy, but this is a rough guideline.”
Important to note: Breast augmentation should not affect breastfeeding in the future.
Worth It Rating: 97%
Concern: Lighter or Smaller Nipples
Remedy: Nipple Surgery
Despite the latest trend to get nipples like model Kendall Jenner, in reality, nipples can endure an incredible amount of wear and tear during breastfeeding. Soreness, heightened sensitivity and even blisters are just a few side effects. The size, shape and color of your nipples may change during breastfeeding, with hormones playing an important role in fluctuations, too.
In a RealSelf Q&A, Seattle plastic surgeon Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder said, “Breastfeeding can result in the nipples and areola stretching and enlarging. This also applies to using a breast pump (those suckers could have bailed out the Titanic!). Once a woman is done with childbearing, the changes in the nipple and areola can be addressed either alone or in combination with an augmentation or lift or reduction. Sometimes, we can get a result that looks even better that what you started with.”
Worth It Rating: 94%