Breast Augmentation, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Click on the links below to jump to the relevant questions:
- Can I breastfeed after having breast implants?
- Does the type of implant I have make a difference to breastfeeding?
- What’s the best placement for breast implants to allow breastfeeding?
- What are the potential complications of breastfeeding after implants?
- What’s mastitis and how could it affect me?
- What happens if I have damaged milk ducts?
- Will my breasts sag after breastfeeding, even if I have implants?
- I want to have breast augmentation surgery but I might start a family soon. What should I do?
Can I breastfeed after having breast implants?
Yes, most people who have breast augmentation prior to having children are still able to breastfeed safely and effectively, providing their breasts were capable of producing milk before the surgery. A small number of women are unable to produce a sufficient amount of milk for a baby regardless of whether they have implants, but it’s difficult to know whether this affects you unless you have attempted to breastfeed prior to having breast enlargement surgery.
Does the type of implant I have make a difference to breastfeeding?
The type of implant, whether saline or silicone, is unlikely to affect breastfeeding, but it’s a good idea to talk to your surgeon before having breast implants for reassurance if you’re worried. Where in the breast the implant is inserted has the potential to affect breastfeeding, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you go to a reputable, certified surgeon.
What’s the best placement for breast implants to allow breastfeeding?
Firstly, where the incision is placed can have a direct bearing on milk production capability. An incision that goes around the areola is likely to reduce nerve response more than an incision under the breast or in the armpit. And for the implant, placing it directly under the glandular tissue is more likely to impede milk flow, compared to an implant positioned under the chest muscle and away from the gland. Sub-pectoral (under the chest muscle) implants are also more likely to remain pert after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
What are the potential complications of breastfeeding after implants?
Depending on where in the breast the implants have been positioned and where the incision has been made, there can be an increased risk of damage to the milk ducts, glands and nerves. And mastitis, which is a fairly common infection among breastfeeding mothers, can cause capsular contracture if the mother has breast implants — this is where scar tissue forms around the implants and causes the breasts to harden.
Also, one issue that is more of an aesthetic consideration than a complication is that breasts can lose volume and sag after breastfeeding, even with implants.
If it’s possible, wait until around 6 months after breastfeeding before having breast surgery; this is the recommended option.
What’s mastitis and how could it affect me?
Mastitis is an infection in the breasts that affects one in 10 mothers and can cause areas of the breasts to become red and swollen, with a burning pain when breastfeeding.
As well as changes to the breasts, mastitis can cause flu-like symptoms including aches and pains and a high temperature. Although painful, it can be treated easily in most women with antibiotics.
But if you have had breast enlargement surgery there can be complications. Mastitis can cause capsular contracture, where scar tissue forms around the implants, causing the breasts to harden. This is more common if breasts become engorged.
What happens if I have damaged milk ducts?
Any surgery carries risks of unwanted side effects and unfortunately one of the possible risks of breast surgery is damage to the milk ducts, milk glands and nerves, particularly if the implant has been inserted through the areola and directly under the glandular tissue, rather than under the chest muscle.
Damaged milk ducts and glands can cause a reduction in the amount of milk made by the breasts. Glands and ducts that have been damaged during surgery will stop producing milk, while those that haven’t will produce milk as normal. This type of damage is more common in women who have had breast implants inserted through an incision in the nipple, which is known as a periareolar incision.
Damaged nerves can affect the let-down reflex when you’re breastfeeding. This is where the nerves in your nipples tell the brain to release the hormone oxytocin, which causes the breasts to push out or ‘let down’ the milk.
Will my breasts sag after breastfeeding if I have implants?
The look of your augmented breasts could change with breastfeeding. This is because your breast size is likely to grow considerably during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but when breastfeeding ends, the gland in the breast atrophies — becoming smaller — which can cause the breasts to look deflated.
Usually, implants will stay in the same place but the breast tissue will sag around the implant. If this happens then you may require further surgery, such as a breast lift, to correct it. If your breasts have grown considerably during pregnancy and feeding then you may notice they develop stretch marks; however, this can happen whether you have had implants or not.
I want to have breast augmentation surgery but I might start a family soon. What should I do?
If you’re planning to have breast implants but are likely to become pregnant in the near future then it’s best to wait until at least 6 months after you have finished breastfeeding to ensure your breasts have settled down into their permanent shape and size.
If you have any concerns about the breast augmentation procedure and how it might affect pregnancy and breastfeeding then speak to Stephen McCulley or his team on 0115 962 4535 or visit our contact us page.
Milk ducts – A branch network of small tubes that carry milk from your breast tissue to your nipples.
Milk glands – Also known as mammary glands, these glands create breast milk.
Let-down reflex – The response of the muscle cells in the breasts to the release of the hormone oxytocin, which prompts the breasts to squeeze out milk. This process can be accompanied by sensations such as tingling or aching.
Colostrum – This is the first milk your breasts produce. It is a thick, creamy substance that contains proteins and antibodies which help keep your baby healthy.
Milk ‘coming in’ – 3 to 4 days after your baby is born you will notice a change to your breast milk and your breasts. Your milk will become thinner and whiter and your breasts will become firmer and larger. You may notice that they feel warm as well. Your breasts may swell by a cup size or more during this phase but will settle down once your milk flow is established.
Engorgement – Engorged breasts become swollen and hard. This usually happens when your milk comes in but can happen at any point during feeding if you miss a feed or there’s an issue with your baby’s latch.