How Pregnancy Affects Cosmetic Procedure Results

With women opting for aesthetic procedures earlier in life and the average age of first-time mothers getting older, here’s what to consider about the impact of pregnancy on cosmetic results.
Patient Perspective
Written by India Bottomley
07.21.2020
How Pregnancy Affects Cosmetic Procedure ResultsLightField Studios/Shutterstock

The effects of pregnancy on a cosmetic procedure may not be the first thing that comes to mind when consulting with your plastic surgeon or dermatologist for the first time. But, with women often undergoing cosmetic surgery and other minimally invasive procedures earlier on in life and the average age of first-time mothers getting older, it is something that increasingly needs to be considered.

For certain procedures, it may actually be preferable to wait until after having children to undergo treatment, but that isn’t always how it works out. From Botox® to breast reductions, we’re breaking down how pregnancy can impact the results of cosmetic surgeries and procedures and heading from women who have experienced the effects first hand.

1. Breast Augmentation and Reduction

Depending on when a woman plans to have children, plastic surgeons may recommend they wait until after her pregnancy to undergo a breast surgery. But many women opt to go under the knife long before getting pregnant.

During pregnancy, women experience changes in the size and shape of their breasts — regardless of whether they have previously undergone a breast augmentation. While the shape of the breast tissue will change, the implant will remain the same. Postpartum sagging is common, and many women choose to undergo a breast implant replacement and/or breast lift after giving birth and breastfeeding.

Women who have previously undergone breast reduction surgery, meanwhile, will naturally be concerned that their breasts may grow in size during pregnancy. But, like women who have natural breasts, the chest usually returns to its pre-pregnancy size postpartum. This being said, loss of skin elasticity in the area may result in the breasts sitting a little lower than they did previously. Consulting with a board certified plastic surgeon will give you a sense of your treatment options.

Patient Perspective

We spoke to Nora about her experience getting pregnant after having a breast reduction. As it turns out, the effects were not what she had expected.

The AEDITION: How did you expect your pregnancy to impact your brest reduction results? How did it compare to your experience?

Nora: My main concern was that I would be left with large, uncomfortable breasts once again. Breast reduction surgery isn’t painless, and I was somewhat concerned that I would find that I had gone through all of that for nothing. But, in fact, while my breasts did get bigger again throughout my pregnancy, they went back to their post-pregnancy size relatively soon after.

The AEDITION: Did pregnancy affect how satisfied you are with your breast reduction?

Nora: I genuinely thought it would. But I’m just as pleased with the results now as I was just after the surgery. Granted, there is some more sagging now, but that’s to be expected. After all, I’ve had a baby. I think because I had the reduction for medical as well as cosmetic needs, it had an impact on my unwavering satisfaction.

The AEDITION: Do you have any advice for women considering having a breast reduction prior to pregnancy?

Nora: I think having an honest conversation with your surgeon before the procedure is essential. — discussing the fact that you’re planning on having children, what your ideal timescale for that is, and any other concerns you might have. They will be able to establish clear expectations for you in terms of short and long term results, which can help you to decide when to have the procedure.

2. Injectables

Neurotoxins (think: Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin®) and dermal fillers are some of the most common minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, but their effects can change during pregnancy. Many women find their faces tend to swell naturally during pregnancy, especially in the lip area. The impact of this is two-fold:

  1. You may find that your lips (or other areas augmented with filler) are fuller than you would like them to
  2. The skin on your face may show fewer lines and wrinkles and generally look fuller

Neurotoxins and fillers are not administered to women during pregnancy or breastfeeding. But those who had a treatment prior to getting pregnant, may notice that the effects of the injectables wear off more quickly than usual due to the increase in the body’s metabolic rate. From that perspective, you may notice dynamic lines, in particular, become more pronounced.

3. Tummy Tuck

Abdominoplasty (a.k.a. tummy tuck) is one of the cosmetic procedures that is most affected by pregnancy. While the procedure has no negative impact on a woman’s ability to become pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy, excess skin in the area can become problematic again postpartum.

The skin and muscles that were tightened during the procedure will stretch during gestation, as they would for women who have not had the procedure. Since the skin and muscles may not bounce back to the shape they were in before pregnancy, a revision procedure may be needed to restore the original results. It’s advised that women wait until they have finished having children to avoid repeated surgery.

Patient Perspective

New mom Clara explains the impact pregnancy has on her tummy tuck.

The AEDITION: How did pregnancy changed the results of your tummy tuck?

Clara: I have the usual mommy tummy you would expect after having a baby. There is excess skin and things are generally quite loose. Initially after surgery, the skin on my stomach was pretty much tight and flat. Now, it’s kind of returned to how it was pre-surgery to a point. It certainly isn’t as bad as it was before though.

The AEDITION: Did these effects fall in line with what you expected?

Clara: I had a very open conversation with my surgeon before the initial procedure. She went through the pros and cons of waiting for the surgery versus going for it now, and I settled on taking the plunge before having kids. We spoke about the option of having a bit of a ‘mommy makeover’ once I was ready, so I know there’s always that option if I want to.

The AEDITION: Do you have any advice for women considering having a tummy tuck before having children?

Clara: I think being a bit of a realist is important. Just because you do the work before pregnancy does not mean your body won’t go through all the usual changes it’s supposed to. Be honest with yourself that you might face having to have a revision procedure to get the results back again. If that doesn’t sound like it’ll work for you, then consider waiting a little while and getting it done in one go.

4. Labiaplasty

Women who have had labiaplasty in the past may be concerned about how the area that was treated will change during pregnancy and childbirth. Much like for tummy tuck patients, the effects of pregnancy and childbirth will be the same for them as for women who have not had the procedure. Depending on your body and hormone levels throughout, the labia may grow significantly.

In these cases, revision surgery is usually possible. There are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration, including the viability of the remaining tissue. Women would ideally wait until after they have finished having children to undergo a revision procedure, if possible.

5. Laser Hair Removal

Women who have completed their course of laser hair removal before pregnancy may need to revisit their hair removal routine again after pregnancy. While the hair may seem to be gone forever, the treatment can't target every single follicle. When women’s hormones fluctuate after childbirth, it is not uncommon for some of those follicles that were missed the first time round can be activated and start growing hair.

While it is possible for significant regrowth to happen, it’s very unlikely that the areas will be as hairy as they were before treatment. If you’d like to undergo laser hair removal again after pregnancy, consult with a board certified provider on when it’s safe to do so.

Patient Perspective

We spoke to Natasja, who had laser hair removal before having her two sons and then a revision course to get the results she loved once again.

The AEDITION: How did the results of your laser hair removal treatment change after your pregnancies?

Natasja: After my initial course, I no longer needed to shave at all. I could effectively forget about body hair being an issue and was able to get away with plucking the odd unwanted hair. Honestly, it was pretty life-changing. After my pregnancies — I decided to wait until after I had my second son before having a second course of treatment — I needed to shave, but it wasn’t as bad as before I had IPL the first time. I wouldn’t want to not do anything about the hair, but it also wasn’t awful like it had been in the past.

The AEDITION: Were these effects as you had imagined?

Natasja: It was less dramatic than some of my friends had led me to believe. Like any of these things, I’m sure everyone’s experience is different, but some of my friends said I would basically turn into a Yeti. I did not, thankfully! So I would say it’s probably best to expect to see 75 percent of the hair you thought you’d said goodbye to for good. But, if it’s less, then see it as a reason to celebrate.

The AEDITION: Do you have any advice for women considering hair removal and planning to have children?

Natasja: I’d say go for it. It’s an affordable and quick procedure. The results are life-enhancing. So, why wait? Yes, you probably will need a second course in a few years. But if you go in knowing that, then I don’t see any reason to wait.

The Takeaway

Cosmetic surgery and procedures are elective, which means patients can generally undergo them whenever they wish. With that said, it is important women understand how their results may change due to pregnancy and childbirth. Most of the time, a revision is possible. But consulting with a board certified provider will ensure you understand why you might wish to time your treatment a certain way.

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INDIA BOTTOMLEYis a freelance writer for AEDIT.
tagsPregnancyFor WomenCosmetic Surgery
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