Breast-Feeding After Implants: Your Questions Answered
Dr. Darren Smith / July 24, 2020
Whether you already have beautiful, flattering breast implants or are just considering them, you may wonder whether it’s safe — or even possible — to breastfeed after your surgery. In general, the majority of women who undergo breast augmentation through one of the three standard approaches (under the breast “inframammary”, under the arm “transaxillary”, or under the areola “periareolar”) will be able to breastfeed after breast augmentation if they had the potential to breastfeed before breast augmentation. However, every case is different and there are many variables involved. While you should ultimately have this conversation with the surgeon performing your procedure, board-certified plastic surgeon Darren M. Smith, MD — one of New York City’s top experts in aesthetic surgery — will answer frequently asked questions about implants and breastfeeding here to offer a starting point in your information gathering.
Is breastfeeding with implants safe for my baby?
You can choose from a variety of types of breast implants, including saline implants, “structured” saline implants, and silicone breast implants. Even saline and structured saline implants have a shell that is made of medical-grade silicone.
The medical profession chose silicone as a material for medical devices and implants because it is:
- Resistant to bacteria
- Easy to sterilize
- Sturdy and resilient
We have no reason to believe that the silicone used in breast implants poses any risk to infants that are breastfeeding, and studies did investigate this issue support the position that breast implants are safe for nursing infants. This is also the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Does it matter where my breast implants are placed?
Breast implants can be placed under the breast tissue (the “subglandular” position) or under the muscles of the chest (the “subpectoral or “submusclular” position). Dr. Smith generally prefers to place breast implants in the subpectoral position for several reasons, including a more natural look and feel, a decreased risk of capsular contracture (abnormal hardening of the pocket around the breast implant), and improved visibility on mammograms. Additionally, since less dissection of the breast tissue is necessary when the implants are placed in the submuscular position, it stands to reason that there will be less damage to the milk ducts when breast implants are placed under the muscles than when that is placed under the breast tissue itself. Therefore, there may be a reduced risk of difficulty breastfeeding after breast augmentation when the implants are placed in the subpectoral position.
Does it matter where my incisions are?
As mentioned earlier, there are three standard approaches for breast implant placement (inframammary, periareolar, and transaxillary). The inframammary and transaxillary positions almost completely avoid dissection of breast tissue and disruption of milk glands, and therefore theoretically pose the lowest risk to your potential to breastfeed after breast augmentation. The periareolar incision, however, requires Dr. Smith to dissect through breast tissue in order to place your breast implant. This approach, therefore, has the greatest potential to put your milk ducts at risk. However, even with this approach, the risk to milk production is small in most patients.
What if my nipple is repositioned during surgery?
Dr. Smith’s goal is to create the most beautiful and natural-looking augmentation possible while keeping your breasts healthy and functional. If you need a breast lift as well as an augmentation, Dr. Smith may need to reposition your areola and nipple to a more youthful and uplifted height. He takes care to preserve delicate nerves in the nipple area as well as the integrity of your milk ducts. However, a breast lift, or mastopexy, does involve more manipulation of the breast tissue than an augmentation alone. Therefore, there is more risk to the milk ducts and an increased risk of difficulty in nursing after breast lift than after breast augmentation alone. Additionally, Dr. Smith recommends in most cases that you wait until after you are done having children to have a breast lift, as pregnancy and breastfeeding can lead to a recurrence in the sagging or deflation of your breasts that you are trying to address with the lift in the first place.
If you want to move forward with your dreams of having larger, more beautiful breasts, contact our office today. You can reach Dr. Smith with our online form or by calling our friendly team.