With her full B cup bust size, Sandy (not her real name) used to be the envy of her friends.
But after two childbirths and years of breastfeeding, the 37-year-old stay-at-home mum felt that her breasts seemed to have shrunk considerably.
For one, she could no longer fit into her old bras and bikinis. And then there were the negative comments from her girlfriends about her deflated bust size.
“I breastfed my two babies for a total of two years. After I stopped nursing, my bust size seemed to have gone down. My breasts were also saggy and seemed to have lost their elasticity,” she laments. Her children are now aged four and two.
Not being able to fill up her bikini tops was particularly upsetting for Sandy, who loves water and outdoor activities. Eager to regain her original bust size and self-confidence, she recently underwent a breast enhancement procedure.
What Sandy did isn’t unusual. While there are no exact local figures, experts in plastic surgery and aesthetics procedures tell Young Parents that, in the last three years, they are seeing more women requesting breast augmentation or enhancements. Many complain about sagging or shrunken breasts after a period of breastfeeding.
Professor Walter Tan, a specialist in plastic surgery and general surgery at Raffles Hospital, says that while there is no scientific data to confirm that breastfeeding causes the bust to shrink or sag, the impression obtained from his clinical observation is that prolonged breastfeeding seems to have this effect.
According to Betty Lee, a lactation consultant in private practice, it is not unusual for a woman’s bust to go up to three cup sizes while she is breastfeeding. When she stops, it may appear that her bust size has gone down.
“Some mums, especially the more beauty-conscious ones, tell me they don’t want to breastfeed for too long because they’re afraid their breasts may sag. But this is not true,” says Betty.
“In lactating breasts, the milk cells are always filled with milk. That’s why the breasts feel fuller and swollen at times. When Baby is weaned, the cells are empty and, usually, the breasts become softer and seem to be smaller in size. It takes a while for the body fat to fill up again.”
Despite their worries, mums who breastfeed usually find the process worth it, says Betty.
“There are just so many other good things about breastfeeding that every mother should give it a go for at least six months.”
Interestingly, even though they may be open to getting a boob job, Singaporean women tend to be conservative when it comes to their preferred bust size.
For Sandy, upsizing to a massive C or D cup had never been a consideration. “I just wanted to fill up my old B cup bras again,” she says.
WHAT’S IN A BOOB JOB?
Traditionally, this job meant going under the knife. The woman decides on her preferred cup size and then undergoes breast implant surgery to increase the volume of the bust.
According to Prof Tan, the procedure is usually done under general anaesthesia and takes about one to two hours. On average, the recovery time is about two weeks.
At Raffles Hospital, the price ranges from approximately $12,000 to $15,000, depending on the type of implants used, the surgical procedure and whether the patients choose to do it as an in-patient or day surgery.
Prof Tan says the incisions can generally be made within the breast folds, under the arm or along the outline of the areola. But before undergoing the procedure, he says that the person would have to go through a thorough clinical examination to exclude any breast condition such as breast cancer.
Today’s boob job has gone beyond surgical options. Dr Gerard Tan, medical director for Neuglow medical aesthetics, says breast fillers are gaining popularity among women since the less invasive procedure was made available at his clinic in 2008.
The fillers Dr Tan uses are made of hyaluronic acid, a substance that occurs naturally in human skin. It is also used to smoothen out wrinkles and plump up saggy facial areas.
Dr Tan performs three to five such procedures – during which he would inject the filler gel into the breasts – each week. A number of his patients are post-breastfeeding mothers.
Unlike breast implant surgery, the breast filler injections are performed under local anaesthesia and leave only small puncture wounds that should heal without scarring.
He says: “The fillers help make the breasts a little perkier.”
That was why Sandy opted for breast fillers instead of permanent implants. According to Dr Tan, 100ml will increase the breast by one cup size.