Breast Implants and Breast Feeding

Many women contemplating Breast Augmentation surgery want to know if they will be able to breast feed future babies after the surgery. The answer, in most cases, is “Yes”. For most women who have had this type of surgery,  breastfeeding is no more difficult with implants than without.

Today, breastfeeding is a growing concern with patients who are considering opting for Breast Augmentation surgery. In earlier years, women who opted for surgical insertion of breast implants tended to be older, married women who had finished with childbearing. However, these days more and more single women, and young women, who have not finished or even started to have children, are considering breast augmentation surgery.

Reports of a silicone-induce illness first appeared in 1992. At that time fear developed that breastfeeding with silicone implants might endanger the health of the child. Subsequently, there have been studies to check out this possibility and these studies have conclusively shown that there is no such danger to children who are breast-fed by women with implants. The main reason for this is that silicone molecules cannot pass into the milk ducts as these molecules are too large.

Subsequently, saline implants have replaced silicone ones for general use. With these implants, safety levels are higher because, even if the saline does leach into the milk, it is an inert substance which can do no harm to the mother or to the baby being breast-fed.

There is a view that the location of the incision and placement position of the implants are of importance in relation to safe breast feeding. This view holds that the optimum placement of the implants is under the muscle, and that peri-aerolar incision should be avoided. The reasoning is that, with this procedure, there will be minimum interference with the milk ducts since these are located directly under the skin and in the tissue above the breast muscle. However, this not an absolute truth. There are many women who have had incisions and implant placements in positions other than what is considered optimum and who are able to breastfeed entirely successfully.

FDA Breast Implant Consumer Handbook – 2004

The FDA, in their handbook, states:

” Women of childbearing age should know that they may not be able to breast feed after breast implantation. Some women who undergo breast augmentation can successfully breast feed and some cannot. Women who undergo a mastectomy will be unable to breast feed on the affected side due to loss of breast tissue and glands that produce milk.

The IOM report said that women with either silicone gel-filled or saline-filled breast implants showed lactation insufficiency (not enough milk) ranging from 28-64%. The periareolar approach (incision site is around the nipple) was the factor most associated with lactation insufficiency.

Having a breast implant may also influence a woman’s decision about whether or not she will try to breast feed, particularly if she has capsular contracture or is worried about problems with the implants.

Consultation with Surgeon

It is very important to discuss your plans for future breastfeeding your babies at the time of your consultation. Your surgeon will be able to work with you, to get the best possible results, even if you are not planning on having children in the near future.

Breastfeeding remains the preferred method of feeding a baby, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.