Breast Implants and Breastfeeding

By Dr. James White

For many young women considering breast augmentation surgery, breastfeeding is often an area of concern. Many women fear that breast implants may interfere with the safety and ability to adequately nurse their babies. However, years of research have proven that, in most instances, breast augmentation surgery has little or no effect on the success of future breastfeeding.

Before undergoing breast augmentation surgery, it is still important to discuss breastfeeding concerns with your surgeons as certain incision placements and incision techniques can slightly increase the risk of nerve or milk duct disruption. In fact, peri-areolar (around the areola) incisions pose a slightly higher risk of impact on nerves and milk ducts than inframammary incisions (incision located at the crease of the breast fold).

While the preferred method of incision at our practice is inframmammary, we sometimes suggest a peri-areolar incision for patients who need a lift in addition to volume. Implant placement may also impact one’s ability to breastfeed. It is believed that sub-muscular (under the muscle) implant placement poses the least impact on milk ducts. This is why it is necessary to express your future breastfeeding plans with your surgeon. While many women who experience pregnancy after breast augmentation surgery remain happy with their results, it is important for patients who plan on getting pregnant in the future to understand that pregnancy may adversely effect their breast augmentation results. Due to the changes their breasts may endure after pregnancy weight gain and postpartum weight loss, some patients may want revision breast augmentation surgery with or without breast lift.

In regards to safety, much information has dispersed regarding the risk of silicon molecules, from silicone implants, infiltrating breast milk supply. This should be of no concern to those breastfeeding with silicone implants which were manufactured after the FDA re-approved them back in 2006. This is because the modern silicone implant is composed of cohesive gel, not liquid silicone. Even if the implants were comprised of the older liquid silicone, studies have shown that the silicone molecule size is too large to pass through milk ducts or breast tissue. Rest assured that your baby will not be ingesting silicon from your implants.

A good rule of thumb for determining your odds for breastfeeding success post-surgery? If you still have sensation in your nipples after surgery, chances are that you should be able to successfully breastfeed your little bundle of joy. However, there is always a slight risk for milk disruption. Therefore, some women may choose to hold off on breast augmentation until after they are done making babies.

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