Breastfeeding with Implants
Some folks assume that breast implants and lactation are mutually exclusive, but that is a myth. Plenty of our patients find that breastfeeding with implants has been possible for them. However, everybody is different — and lactation is something that many mothers struggle with, even if they’ve never had implants. The ability to breastfeed after implant procedure will also depend on what type and placement of incisions were made during the augmentation.
Here, we’ll discuss the specific factors that can impact breastfeeding with implants. For further information, please reach out to our team — Dr. Lapuerta will be happy to answer any of your questions about breast implants, breastfeeding, and whether both might be possible for you. He has performed countless successful procedures, including breast revision and breast reconstruction surgery.
Breastfeeding After Implant Surgery: Is it Possible?
Breastfeeding after breast surgery with implants is certainly possible, but there are a number of factors to take into account before determining any one person’s ability to breastfeed following a breast augmentation surgery. Different types of breast augmentation surgery use different approaches, with specific incision types and placement. These can make a difference in the ability to breastfeed later, along with a mother’s medical history and unique anatomy.
Dr. Lapuerta performs two primary forms of breast augmentation: inframammary and periareolar. There are two additional, less common methods — transaxillary and transumbilical — that are generally only performed under exceptional circumstances and in a hospital setting. Every patient is different, and we cannot promise anyone whether or not they will be able to breastfeed. This will need to be determined through trial and error after the baby is born. However, in most cases, the following is true:
- Inframammary implant patients are generally able to breastfeed. This is because the incisions made for this type of augmentation are performed in the breast crease, meaning they’re less likely to affect the milk ducts.
- Periareolar implant patients can sometimes breastfeed, but it will depend on the condition of their milk ducts. Periareolar augmentation surgery is performed via incisions around the areola, which can sometimes cut the milk ducts. If this is the case, breastfeeding may not be possible. However, there’s no way of knowing for sure until attempting to breastfeed.
- Transaxillary implant patients are often able to breastfeed, as this procedure places incisions under the armpit. However, this approach is less common than the previous two. Patients who wish to undergo a transaxillary implant will likely do so in a hospital rather than a plastic surgery clinic.
- Transumbilical implant patients are typically able to breastfeed, as the incision is made in the belly button. However, Dr. Lapuerta does not offer this style of procedure, and we generally advise against it.
Breastfeeding and Implants: How do They Affect Each Other?
Many women with implants go on to successfully breastfeed their babies. However, it is still possible for breast implants to have other effects on pregnancy, and vice versa. Although most pregnant women or new moms with implants tend to ask about milk duct damage first, there are a few other elements for augmentation patients to consider when breastfeeding with breast implants:
- Nerve Damage Can Have an Effect on Breastfeeding
The nerves which surround the nipples are an important part of breastfeeding; these nerves trigger prolactin and oxytocin, two key hormones for lactation, when the nipple is suckled by a newborn. However, some breast implant procedures can damage these nerves, reducing the sensation and therefore release of these hormones.
- Implant Patients May Experience More Intense Engorgement
Though breast engorgement can happen to any new mother, it is often more severe with implant patients. This is one of the most common risks with breastfeeding with implants. Engorgement is generally categorized by a swollen, “full” feeling in the breasts, and is sometimes hard to touch. This issue most commonly happens during the first week or two of your baby’s life. It takes some time to adjust your milk supply to meeting the baby’s demands. Engorgement can also happen if you don’t breastfeed, or when pumping milk for a longer than usual time. This situation can cause your ducts to become plugged.
- Mastitis Can Affect Implant Patients More Severely
Mastitis, or inflamed breast tissue, can be very painful but is easily treated. Generally, this condition occurs within the three months following childbirth, and typically only affects one breast. Although plenty of patients without implants experience mastitis, symptoms of this condition can be more severe for augmentation patients.
- Reduced Milk Supply with Breast Implants
While some women produce milk and are able to breastfeed with breast implants, others may experience a reduced supply of milk. This issue can happen for several reasons. Some of the nerves in the breast may have been damaged during the implant surgery. Another issue comes with engorgement. As mentioned earlier, engorgement can be more severe with breast implants. This signals that less milk is needed. To help prevent this problem, feed your baby as often as possible. Not only does it prevent engorgement, it sends the message to your body that more milk is needed.
You may have less sensitivity in your breast nerves, especially if you have larger implants. This lack of sensitivity can lead to less milk for the infant. The good news is it’s entirely possible to continue to breastfeed and just supplement with formula or donor milk. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you want to breastfeed, even if you can’t do it exclusively.
Challenges with Breastfeeding
Even women who have never had breast implants often find it challenging to breastfeed. Many of the experiences faced in breastfeeding with implants are common to most new mothers, including those who have never had implants. Three of the most common issues include low milk supply, sore nipples, and engorgement.
With each of these three issues, a doctor will offer suggestions to help the mother be able to breastfeed. They may suggest feeding the baby more often to increase the supply of milk and prevent engorgement or using a gel to prevent nipples from being sore.
If you experience any of these issues or others while trying to breastfeed your baby, talk to your doctor. Don’t assume that just because you have breast implants, they are making it difficult or impossible to breastfeed. In many cases, making a few changes can resolve the issues and allow you to continue breastfeeding.
Post-Breast Implants: Breastfeeding Facts and Tips
When navigating childbirth and breastfeeding after breast implant surgery, the most important thing to remember is that your baby is safe. Although the mother does run a small chance of the previously discussed complications, none of these is a risk to your little one. There have been no indications of higher silicone levels in breast milk from mothers with implants than anyone else, nor has any evidence of related birth complications or defects been found. These are reassuring facts for many newly pregnant patients!
We advise all breastfeeding mothers with implants to work with their OBGYN, midwife, or lactation consultant to ensure the best outcome. It’s also important to remember that, although many sources recommend breastfeeding, it is not the only way. Patients who cannot produce enough milk to feed their children are advised to speak with their pediatrician about recommendations for formula supplements.
Schedule Your Breast Implant Consultation Today!
If you are interested in getting breast implants now, you should schedule a consultation with Dr. Lapuerta to discuss your goals. Dr. Lapuerta will meet with you and determine which type of breast implant surgery is right for you. At this time, you should also talk to him about your future plans for a family and your hope of being able to breastfeed. While no one can guarantee that any woman will be able to breastfeed successfully, it will provide valuable information to the doctor when determining your plan of treatment.
Dr. Leo Lapuerta has been performing breast augmentations and other forms of plastic surgery in the greater Houston area for over 20 years. If you’re ready to take steps toward your breast augmentation procedure, please get in touch with our team and contact us today for a free and discreet consultation with Dr. Lapuerta about your options. We look forward to helping you meet your goals!