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Breastfeeding with Breast Implants: What to Know

Breastfeeding is inarguably the most natural way to nourish your baby. And that’s why it’s the top choice for many new mothers, who want to provide their child with the colostrum, antibodies, hormones, and other benefits that breast milk offers. Mothers who’ve had breast augmentation often wonder if breastfeeding is an option for them, due to the trauma and potential areola nerve damage associated with breast implants. Fortunately, breastfeeding with implants is possible—but it varies from case to case. Read on to learn about how breastfeeding with implants works, the likelihood that it’ll work for you, and potential safety concerns.

How Implants Effect Breastfeeding

Contrary to popular belief, most mothers with implants will be able to breastfeed their children. Former Playboy model Kendra Baskett (née Wilksinon) was surprised at her ability to nurse after having implants: "I was so scared that I wasn't going to be able to nurse that when I saw stuff come out of my nipples the other day, I was like, I can breastfeed?" Baskett, 24, told the magazine. "And I asked my doctor, who said, 'That's fine, but it's not milk yet!'" Other public figures with implants, such as Kourtney Kardashian, have said that they were able to breastfeed with implants.

With that being said, the insertion method of the implants may increase or decrease the odds of the ability to breastfeed with implants. "If you avoid a nipple incision and instead put the implants under the breast crease – a procedure called an inframammary incision – or if you put the implants under the muscle of the chest wall, the majority of patients do not have a problem breast feeding," said Dr. Stephen Greenberg, a popular Long Island plastic surgeon . Women who’ve had their implants inserted through their armpit or under the breast fold are good contenders for breastfeeding with implants, regardless of whether they were placed over or under the pectoral muscle.

Areola incision may pose some threat, due to the fact that breastfeeding is largely dependent on the nerves around the nipples. Even a perfect breast augmentation via areola incision can damage the nerve endings around the nipple as well as the milk ducts. So if areola incision can have detrimental effects on breastfeeding, why don’t women who want to nurse in the future just opt for a different type of incision? Placing implants through the areola is often considered the most desirable form of breast augmentation. Dr. Marianne Neifert, a pediatrician and breastfeeding expert, shared some insight: “Surgeons often like to make the incision around the nipple because it's very cosmetic and because its right where the pigment of the skin changes the scar is not as noticeable," said Neifert. "But all the milk ducts that drain the different lobes or sections of the breast kind of convene there. It's possible to accidently cut milk ducts or the nerve that sends the signal to your brain to release more hormones that then helps you to produce more milk.”

Silicone Implants and Breastfeeding

You should never attempt breastfeeding if there are signs that your breast implants (silicone or saline) are leaking. But if your breast implants are healthy and intact, there’s no evidence to suggest that the material found in breast implants leaks into breast milk. Even so, small amounts of silicone or saline are both present in baby formulas and medicines and should not pose a problem

If future breastfeeding is primary concern in your potential breast augmentation procedure, the best thing you can do is discuss your concerns with a board-certified plastic surgeon. During your consultation, you’ll be able to learn more about what steps can be taken to raise the likelihood that you’ll be able to breastfeed and still get the implants you desire. Contact our representatives today—we’d be happy to schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon near you!

--Marisa Amorasak

 

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