Stephen McCulley, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon. MBChb, FCS(SA)Plast, FRCS(plast)

Can you Breastfeed with Implants?

With implants and breast augmentation operations becoming increasingly more common, one of the most frequent questions that gets asked is whether the surgery will affect your ability to breastfeed. As with many of the questions in and around this area, there is no simple “yes” or “no” answer. Broadly speaking you should still be able to produce milk and breastfeed a child in the usual way, but there are certain factors that should be taken into consideration and are certainly worth discussing.

If your breasts have been surgically enlarged with silicone or saline implants, your nipples may be more or less sensitive than normal. Once you’ve delivered a baby and your milk does start to come through, there is possibility that you will have exaggerated breast engorgement. You won’t know exactly how your milk supply has been affected by breast augmentation surgery until you try to nurse. However, if following the operation you still have feeling in your nipple you have a much better chance of producing a normal, full supply of milk for your child.

Breastfeeding after breast implantation will also depend on the type of surgery and the incision site. If the incision is done near the nipples it might damage the milk ducts. It is of vital importance if you are looking for surgery prior to starting a family, that you retain the services of a skilled, fully qualified plastic surgeon who will discuss your operation and needs with you in detail. A shoddy job is not only going to be uncomfortable, but will also increase the risk of not being able to breastfeed. Done properly and in the right way, the risk remains but is greatly reduced. Some women report no problems whatsoever following implants or augmentation.

If you are thinking about breast implants, it may be that you wait until after you’ve breastfed your children before having the operation. The other option available is feeding your baby with formula. This is an increasingly more popular way to nurse your baby and means that your breasts are free to be operated on with no knock on effect to the child. However, the majority of health professionals would argue that breastfeeding is the most natural way of getting the correct nutrients to the child and creates a bond that cannot be replicated by formula feeding. There are arguments on both side, the important thing is to carefully consider all the options available to you before agreeing to surgery.

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