Breastfeeding After Breast Augmentation Surgery


Jill Daniels, Freelance Medical Writer

Jill Daniels is a freelance health writer based in New York City. She spent several years writing for WebMD, including their Weight Loss Clinic and Fertility Center programs. Jill has also written/reported for publications including InStyle, People and Women's Own. She received a degree in journalism for Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

November 15 2007

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Breast implants can give you the bust line you've always wanted. They can boost your self-confidence and make you feel great! But what happens when baby arrives? Breastfeeding with implants is a very real concern for many women.

The good news is breast implants should not interfere with your ability to breastfeed. How the breast implant surgery is performed, however, makes a difference.

The placement of the implant and location of the incisions play a major role in determining whether breast feeding after breast augmentation is possible. Breast implants inserted through incisions in the folds under the breasts or the armpit are less likely to disrupt milk production and delivery. Procedures using incisions around or across the areola (called periareolar incisions) are more likely to sever milk ducts, and affect important nerves responsible for triggering milk production and release. In these cases, a woman's breasts may produce a full milk supply, but the milk is not able to pass through damaged ducts to the nipple or be released from the nipple.

One important note: If a woman has had a mastectomy or opted for breast implants because her breasts never fully developed, it is unlikely that she will be able to breastfeed normally.

Can Leaking Breast Implants Affect a Baby?
You shouldn't be too worried about material from your implants winding up in your baby's digestive system. For starters, breast implants filled with saline are fairly safe; even if leaking does occur saline poses little risk to a baby. Silicone implants should not create a breastfeeding risk either. The silicone molecules used in implants are too large to pass easily into a mother's milk. In fact, it's been reported that similar amounts of silicone are found in the breast milk of women with silicone implants, women without breast implants, cow's milk, and baby formula.

Will Your Milk Be Enough?
While breast feeding with implants is definitely possible and encouraged, new moms may experience insufficient milk production. According to an Institute of Medicine study, women with implants may have a 28%-64% drop in milk production. Research from the Institute has concluded that women who have had any kind of breast surgery, including breast implants, were three times more likely to have insufficient lactation than those who did not have surgery. Women whose breast implants were inserted through a periareolar incision had a greater chance of having insufficient milk.

But it's important to note that insufficient milk production does not mean a woman has to forgo breastfeeding with implants altogether. Rather, she needs to keep a close watch on the amount of milk her baby is receiving and possibly supplement breast milk with bottles of formula. The baby's doctor can help determine the best route to take with feeding.

If you are considering breast implant surgery and you are planning to breastfeed with implants, it is essential to talk to your surgeon so he or she will be able to work to preserve as much of your breast tissue and milk ducts as possible. If you already have breast implants, you should speak to your baby's doctor about the benefits and risks of breast feeding. A lactation consultant can also be a valuable resource for a woman who chooses breastfeeding after implants.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the best form of nutrition for a baby.