Thousands of women undergo breast implant surgery every year. Some opt for saline implants, while others choose silicone implants. In some instances, the procedure is chosen because of a desire for a specific aesthetic. However, a large percentage of women that get breast implants do so for reconstructive purposes after a mastectomy.
The number of breast implant surgeries performed each year has grown significantly and that growth does not appear to be slowing down. Below is helpful information that will shed light on the procedure as it relates to breastfeeding.
Whether or not you can breastfeed when you have breast implants will depend on the kind of implants you have. It will also depend on how the implants were placed and the way the surgery was performed. The most common concern that women have is that the chemicals found in the breast implants will integrate with breast milk, especially when the breast implants are filled with saline. Since saline is saltwater, healthcare professionals have not identified any problems or harmful effects associated with saline mixing with breast milk.
In the event that there were problems during the breast implant surgery, such as damage to the milk glands or nerves, there’s a possibility that the nipple area was affected. This means there might be a reduced ability to feel your nipple. While this would not entirely prevent you from breastfeeding, it will affect the let-down response, which is when the milk releases into the milk ducts from the glands. When there is significant damage to the milk ducts, you can experience a reduced amount of milk production.
A surgeon that’s proficient in performing breast implant surgery will understand that the kind of incision made during the procedure can have an impact on breastfeeding. For instance, when the incision is made across or surrounding the areola, there’s a greater chance of experiencing nerve damage. This is why it’s often best to make the incisions under the armpit, breast, or belly button. In fact, making an incision in these areas reduces the chances of damaging the nerves, milk ducts, and glands.
Another key consideration as it relates to breast implants is how they’re placed as this too can impact the ability to breastfeed. There are different ways in which breast implants can be placed, such as between the chest muscle and between the breast tissue. In some instances, breast implants are placed underneath the muscle of the chest to avoid damaging nerves and milk ducts. When implants are placed underneath the patient’s chest muscle, there won’t be any issues with saline seeping into the breast milk.
If you already have breast implants and you want to increase your milk supply, you can do so using a breast pump for the purpose of stimulating your breasts so that you’re able to produce more milk. This is also helpful because it’s a great way to ensure your breasts are completely empty of milk. Another way to increase your supply of milk is by feeding your baby frequently.
Dr. Edward Eades is a board-certified plastic surgeon with expertise developed over several decades. He has been serving the Tucson community since 1990 and can answer any questions you have about breast implants