The popularity of breast implants has grown over the last 20 years with an increasing number of women undergoing the procedure. In Australia, around 8,000 women receive breast implants per year and almost 75% cite cosmetic reasons for doing so.
Breast augmentation has indeed become one of the most common cosmetic procedures worldwide. Since the majority of women who opt for breast implants do so during their reproductive years, it is only logical that they require more information regarding the impact of breastfeeding after a breast augmentation.
Can Implants Affect Breastfeeding?
While there’s a considerable amount of information about breast implants that can be accessed online, there are conflicting reports about breast augmentation in general and its effects on a mother’s ability to breastfeed.
Most specialists report that breast implants post no risk to milk production.
However, women who undergo any kind of breast surgery, breast implants included, are up to three times more likely to have inadequate milk supply. In some cases, this is as a result of the silicone or saline implant being placed right on top of the breast tissue, which compresses the milk ducts and glandular tissue. When these areas are compromised, milk production can be noticeably reduced.
Fortunately, there are surgical techniques that can prevent these risks from happening. Hence, it’s very important to consult an experienced and skilled plastic surgeon, like Dr Ellis Choy, about your desire to breastfeed following your breast augmentation procedure.
Breast Augmentation Surgery
Generally, mothers who breastfed prior to breast augmentation should have no issues with breastfeeding after surgery.
There are a number of considerations that Dr Choy will discuss with you during your breast augmentation consultation:
- Incision site
Breast augmentation has come a long way in terms of providing various incision site options for patients.
For most patients, Dr Choy chooses an inframammary incision, where the incision is made in the fold under the breast. This option eliminates the risk of cutting any nerves around the milk ducts or the nerves that affect nipple sensation, which are responsible for sending signals to help you produce more milk.
- Implant placement
Where the implant is placed is also essential because the position and size of the implant can put pressure on the glandular (milk producing) tissue. If the implant is placed between the glandular tissue and muscle layer, its pressure could interfere with milk flow.
Therefore, it is best to have the implant placed beneath the muscle layer so that it does not disturb the glandular tissue. The less pressure placed directly on the mammary glands, the less chances for disruption and better chances to produce more milk.
- Breast Lift or Breast Reconstruction with Implant Surgery
The impact on breastfeeding is greater during more extensive surgeries, such as breast lift with implants and breast reconstruction. The risk is increased as there is more to these procedures including the incisions and repositioning of the breast on the chest cavity.
Keep in mind that if you want to successfully breastfeed with implants, you should carefully consider the new procedure and discuss your options with Dr Choy, during your consultation with him.
The Bottom Line: Is Breastfeeding with Implants Safe?
This is still a grey issue for some, but at least for experts and specialists, like Dr Choy, the consensus right now is that women can breastfeed with implants. There is insignificant evidence that suggests that breast implants significantly affect how mothers produce milk.
As with most life decisions there is no definitive right or wrong answer, take your time consulting with Dr Choy about your decision to have breast augmentation and the possibility that you would like to breastfeed. You can never ask too many questions when it concerns you and your child’s health and overall wellbeing.
And remember, some women will ultimately find it difficult to breastfeed, regardless of whether they have implants or not. So, don’t feel guilty should you have trouble breastfeeding. Find the appropriate support system and lactation experts who can help if you are experiencing problems with breastfeeding.