Whether a woman is thinking about getting breast augmentation at our Birmingham, AL, practice or already has breast implants, questions about their ability to breastfeed with breast implants are fairly common.
In this blog post, I’ll explain some factors to consider if you’re going to breastfeed after getting breast augmentation surgery. It is important to remember that a certain percentage of moms have difficulty breastfeeding their infants whether or not they have implants. Women who experience difficulty getting their infants to nurse often consult with lactation experts for help.
Yes, You Can Breastfeed With Implants
Most women who have breast implants can breastfeed and use breast pumps to have extra breast milk available. There is no evidence that breast pumps can rupture an implant or cause other damage. Women with breast implants or those considering augmenting their breasts can ask a few questions to assess whether their ability to breastfeed is affected (or might be impacted) by breast implants.
These questions include:
Where were the incisions made?
The most common incision location for breast augmentation surgery is at the base of the breasts, called the inframammary fold, where the breast skin connects to the torso. Inframammary incisions pose virtually no risk to the milk ducts that supply breast milk. Most surgeons offer alternative incision locations, including on the lower edge of the areola (the dark skin surrounding the nipple), for patients who are concerned about scarring. This location, called a periareolar incision, poses the most risk to women who intend to breastfeed because of its proximity to the milk ducts.
Incisions made in the armpit area (called transaxillary incisions) are much less common but aren’t associated with breastfeeding issues.
Do you still have feeling in your nipples?
Women who retain sensation in their nipples are less likely to experience problems with breastfeeding. That’s because nipple sensation means the nerves are working as expected and won’t interfere with milk production. One thing you should keep in mind, however, is that nipple sensitivity can take up to 2 years to return for some women who get breast implants. That doesn’t mean there’s damage to the nerves, though, and breastfeeding shouldn’t be affected.
Where are the implants located?
Breast implants are inserted into 1 of 2 general locations during breast augmentation surgery—behind the breast tissue or behind the pectoral muscle. When plastic surgeons insert implants behind the existing breast tissue but in front of the muscle, that’s called a subglandular placement. Submuscular placement is behind the muscle. Implants placed above the muscle are more likely to interfere with breastfeeding. The submuscular placement is typically a preferred option not just to help women who intend to breastfeed but also to produce better results.
What was the reason for getting implants?
Many people assume the only reason for getting breast implants is to enhance the size of naturally small breasts. That’s the most common reason, but some patients undergo breast augmentation surgery to address other cosmetic issues. Implants can improve the appearance of asymmetrical breasts, for example, or help a patient who never developed breast tissue or who has tuberous breasts. If the latter is the case, the lack of glandular tissue could impede the ability to produce milk.
If you’re considering breast augmentation surgery, it’s important to have an honest conversation with your plastic surgeon about whether you plan to breastfeed children in the future. This can influence certain surgical decisions (such as incision location and implant placement).
Women considering breast augmentation in Alabama travel from Huntsville and throughout the Southeast to Birmingham to get breast implants. You can contact us to request a consultation using the online form or call us at (205) 933-9308 to schedule an appointment.