Many women come to plastic surgery after extreme weight loss, particularly after bariatric surgery [link to article on bariatric surgery site], or after the up-and-down weight gain and loss of having children. When you gain weight, your skin gets stretched out. Losing the weight is wonderful, but unfortunately, most of us also lose our elasticity right along with the weight. Skin hangs in folds and breasts sag; once gravity gets involved, things really start heading south.

Plastic surgery shouldn’t be your means of weight loss; rather, it’s a powerful tool for contouring your new body to match your new, healthy weight. There are a few things you should know about how weight gain and loss can impact breast implants, breast lifts, and breast reductions.

The Effect of the Yo-Yo
Think about how your breasts change when you lose and gain weight — they can get larger and smaller (regardless of what you want them to do!). Some women lose and gain in their breasts first; for others, it’s the last place. Having plastic surgery on your breasts doesn’t change any of those tendencies. Your breasts — even with implants, even after a breast lift, or even after being reduced in size — can still continue to change their shape and size as a result of gaining or losing weight.

For example, if you gain weight after a breast reduction, your breasts can become larger again. The opposite is true too: If you have breast reduction surgery, and then you lose weight after that, your breasts can become even smaller than you intended. Procedures like breast lifts can absolutely help you to look and feel younger (and thinner), but they don’t stop the effect of gravity, which is sped along through weight gain and loss.

Timing is Everything
If you are having any cosmetic procedures after a significant weight loss, timing is key. For example, you don’t want to have a procedure like a breast reduction with a breast lift if you still have 30 more pounds to lose, because you can be left with more excess skin. It’s important to be at a stable weight for about two years before undergoing plastic surgery. If you are thinking of getting pregnant in the next few years, you might be wise to put off getting implants until after the pregnancy (and ensuing weight loss) because pregnancy weight gain (which is necessarily and healthy for you and the baby) can change the shape of your breasts and impact your implants.

When to have breast augmentation or breast reduction is unique to you and your particular situation. That’s why you should talk it over with your surgeon and come up with a game plan that makes sense for you.