Breast Implants and Breastfeeding
Women who have had their breasts surgically enlarged are often concerned about breastfeeding, how their breasts will look after breastfeeding and any risks it has on their child's health.
Can You Breastfeed Following a Breast Enlargement Procedure?
Many women with breast implants breastfeed their babies with no problems at all. However they may affect the ability to breastfeed in some of them. The most common method used in breast enlargement called periareolar method, that is, making an incision around or in the middle of the areola may make it difficult to nurse your baby because the galactophore ducts can be damaged during the operation. In order to avoid this, other options are more suitable: like incisions made through the armpit or under the fold of the breast. Periareolar incision is then the most risky option regarding problems when breastfeeding.
Watch Mr David Floyd, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, explain more about how breast implants impact on breastfeeding:
"Because the implant goes underneath the breast tissue, or under the pectoris muscle, it doesn’t disturb the milk production by the breast. It doesn’t affect the breast ducts; it doesn’t actually affect the gland of the breast tissue, so there’s no impact on breastfeeding at all. All patients are able to breastfeed just as much as they were before their breast implants.
But remember many patients have a breast implants have actually very small breasts and often don’t produce a lot of breast milk anyway, but the implants themselves don’t affect milk production.
Also studies have shown that the presence of a silicone implant does not affect the baby. There were concerns that there might be more silicone in breast milk than in normal milk, but in fact that’s not the case and it’s been disproven."
Mr David Floyd, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital
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Can Having Implants Affect My Baby?
Recent research indicates that breast milk from women with breast implants (silicone or saline implants) does not have more silicone than the breast milk from women without them. You should remember that silicone derives from silicon, a mineral which is found in cow's milk and in formula milk (in a higher level than milk from mothers with implants), so it is very unlikely it will cause any problems.
How Long Do I Have To Wait After Plastic Surgery To Breastfeed My Baby?
It is advisable to wait at least 10 months after the breast augmentation surgery. It is also advisable to wait until you finished nursing your baby if you are thinking about getting breast implants but also want to breastfeed.
Will Breastfeeding Damage the Results After the Operation?
Many women are worried about the aesthetic deterioration of their breasts after nursing their children and because of that they rather not do it. Your breasts will go through changes both during and after pregnancy: these can be an increase or a decrease in their volume and/or stretch marks. You should be aware that these changes are likely to happen even if you decide to not breastfeed. According to the latest researches by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breastfeeding is not related to the sagging or drooping of breasts. So either if you have breast implants or not your breasts may change with pregnancy; these changes may lead to the need of surgery but it must be clear that such changes do not have to do with breastfeeding.
It is difficult to know how the surgery will impact your ability to nurse until you try to breastfeed.
There are certain breast types that are at-risk of low milk production, such as underdeveloped breasts and asymmetrical breasts, both of which would be common grounds for augmentation. There is also the risk of low milk supply with small breasts, as the lack of glandular tissue can hamper milk production. Severing nerves, ducts and interfering with levels of glandular tissue are to be expected with any breast augmentation surgery, and this can lead to a lower milk supply. If you have had surgery around the nipples, the incisions can damage the nerves, which will limit your ability to express milk, which will in turn affect your ability to produce it.
Depending on your procedure, your surgeon may actually advise against breastfeeding. Discuss your options with your surgeon before you commit to the surgery if you hope to breastfeed afterwards.
How To Increase It
Increasing milk supply is key for many mothers, regardless of whether they have had breast augmentation or not. If you are struggling with your supply, you should discuss this with your healthcare provider as soon as you become worried. They will be able to help isolate the reasons why, which may or may not be related to past surgery. There is no magic formula for creating more milk, but there are certain techniques you can try that may assist with stimulation. Firstly, there’s the supply-and-demand rule. The more you nurse, the more the body will understand there is a demand for milk, and so will strive to increase production. Staying hydrated can help increase milk production as well, as can getting plenty of rest.
There is some evidence that breast massage can also stimulate the production of milk. Talking to friends, family and your healthcare providers to feel supported as you navigate breastfeeding can also help.
When Should You Be Concerned?
If you begin to feel concerned about milk production, it’s wise to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine the cause. If you have not stimulated any milk supply within five days after delivering, you may wish to consult your healthcare provider. Keeping an eye on baby’s nappy will indicate whether they are receiving enough milk; if they have less than six wet diapers a day after five days, or they are not having at least three bowl movements a day, it could be a sign they are not receiving enough milk. If you are not able to feed eight times daily, you could not be producing enough milk. If you feel hardening or lumps anywhere on the breast, consult your GP immediately.
You should also seek immediate help if you think your baby is dehydrated. Signs of this include rapid breathing and heartbeats, dry skin, and not enough wet diapers.
Opinions Against It
Some plastic surgeons advise against nursing your baby after breast augmentation. They defend that once you have gone through it you need to keep in mind that there is formula milk, although not as good as breast milk, it is still good enough. But above all they defend that it is very likely mastitis will appear and this will cause your implants to be removed which means going back to where you were before. They also say that during a periareolar incision, milk ducts are damaged and this deterioration will very likely cause milk retention and so mastitis.