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Breastfeeding With Breast Implants

Breastfeeding With Implants After Breast Augmentation Surgery

Breastfeeding is a sacred moment between the mother and her baby. With lactation, mother and infant forge a strong emotional connection and they both enjoy many long-term health benefits. Mother’s milk contains antibodies, vitamins and minerals that protect babies against infections and childhood illnesses. In addition, women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, ovarian or breast cancer.

The importance of lactation makes many women worried about whether they will be able to breastfeed their babies after breast augmentation surgery. In this article, we’ll answer the most common questions women ask about breastfeeding and pregnancy when they visit Dr. Stavrou at the European Institute of Plastic Surgery for undergoing breast augmentation.

Can You Breastfeed With Implants After A Cosmetic Boob Job?

Most women with breast implants can breastfeed. However, the state of the breasts before surgery, and the type, location and depth of incision, may affect milk supply. 

For patients who want to breastfeed after breast augmentation, the plastic surgeon will usually perform the incisions under the breast’s fold or through the armpit. Breast implants are placed between the breast and the chest wall, without the surgeon intervening in the mammary glands that produce milk. 

Apart from keeping the breast milk ducts intact, this type of incision does not damage the nerves in the dark area around the nipple (areola), which is crucial for breastfeeding. The areola is a sensitive area of the female breast that causes prolactin and oxytocin hormones to increase during lactation. Prolactin triggers breast milk production, and oxytocin triggers the letdown. 

Therefore, the common belief that women lose the ability to breastfeed after cosmetic breast augmentation surgery is a myth. Yet, no one can guarantee that the mother will have a full milk supply after a boob job. In this case, she will produce some of the milk the baby needs during the first days or weeks, and then supplement with formula milk or pasteurized donor human milk.

Is It Safe To Breastfeed With Breast Implants?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that the silicone in breast implants leaches into breast milk. In addition, no clinical research has linked breast implants to congenital disabilities of infants so far.

Yet, women with implants should be very cautious about a breast infection known as mastitis. This breast inflammation might occur during the first few weeks of lactation because of a blocked duct, poor latch, infrequent breastfeeding, a cracked nipple or a tight bra. Mastitis is painful enough, restricts milk flow, and can result in breast implant removal if not treated on time.

Will Breastfeeding Ruin My Implants?

It is normal for women’s breasts to change in shape and size after pregnancy and breastfeeding. The surge of hormones fueled when a woman gets pregnant stimulates the milk glands and milk ducts. The breasts become larger and the skin gets stretched in order to accommodate the incoming milk. When lactation is over, the breast will diminish, but may not go back to exactly how it looked before.

Every woman is different, so we cannot predict in advance the effect of pregnancy and breastfeeding on all women who have undergone breast enhancement. In general, women with breast implants do not experience drastic changes to their breasts, because good quality implants maintain their volume. If some skin sagging occurs around the implant, a breast lift can fix the problem.

The good news is that many women have reported that breasts with implants look more “natural” post-pregnancy. Patients should wait for at least six months after giving birth – or even longer if they are still nursing – to assess the appearance of their breast implants and decide on future procedures, such as a Mommy Makeover.

Can I Breastfeed After Reconstructive Breast Surgery With Implants?

Some women may seek reconstructive breast surgery to treat their underdeveloped, tubular, flat, asymmetric or widely-spaced breasts. Women with hypoplastic breasts (Mammary Hypoplasia) usually have limited ability to produce enough milk even before having breast augmentation surgery. Therefore, in this case, the inability of the mother to breastfeed is due to the breasts’ state before the surgery and not because of the surgery.

The same applies to women who have received treatment for breast cancer, including partial mastectomy and breast implants for reconstructive purposes. During a mastectomy, the surgeon removes breast tissue, while the nerves involved in lactation are also affected.

What Will My Breast Implants Look Like After Pregnancy?

Breast implants do not change after pregnancy or breastfeeding. 

However, there might be changes to the contour and size of the breasts, as we mentioned above. Hormonal changes during pregnancy alter the female body, with the breast size getting larger and the skin stretched. 

Some factors that appear to play a role in how women’s breasts change after pregnancy are the following:

  • Genetics
  • Breastfeeding time length
  • Weight gain
  • Number of pregnancies

When breasts return close to their pre-pregnancy size after the postpartum period is over, some women may experience sagging around the breast implants, which is easily fixed with a breast lift (mastopexy), or a Mommy Makeover. Alternatively, patients can replace their implants, with the same or different implant size, to restore their look.

Can Breast Implants Cause Low Milk Supply?

Milk supply in breasts with implants depends on the implant placement and incision type. 

Implants placed over the beasts’ muscle layers are more likely to put pressure on the milk-making parts (milk ducts and glands), which slows down milk production.

Moreover, an incision across or around the areola may help the scars to be invisible, but it damages the nerves in the area. Limited or no sensation of the areola restricts the increase of the hormones that trigger breast milk production and letdown (prolactin and oxytocin). 

In such cases, women might have trouble producing enough milk to breastfeed their babies. Formula milk or pasteurized donor human milk may supplement the lactation.

Can You Have Kids If You Have Breast Implants?

Getting pregnant has nothing to do with breast implants. Therefore, women who have undergone breast augmentation do not need to worry about implants affecting their fertility, their ability to give birth or the health of their newborn babies.

Talk To Dr. Demetris Stavrou

If you have concerns or questions about breast augmentation, implants and their relation to pregnancy and breastfeeding, contact Dr. Demetris Stavrou or book an appointment to meet him in person in one of his offices in Nicosia, Limassol (Cyprus), Athens (Greece), or Sliema (Malta).

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