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Can You Breastfeed After Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Published by Dr. Brandon Richland, MD

Undergo cosmetic breast surgery is a common process, often raising questions about its impact on future breastfeeding. Many prospective and new mothers worry about whether they can breastfeed after having breast implants. Research and clinical experiences suggest breastfeeding with breast implants is usually possible and safe.

The ability to breastfeed and the maintenance of milk supply, however, may be influenced by the specifics of the surgery, including the type of implants, the placement, and the incision site. The decision to undergo breast augmentation is a personal one, and understanding the potential implications for breastfeeding is an important consideration for women.

Ensuring post-surgery care for breastfeeding and addressing any challenges that arise are crucial for successful breastfeeding. Moreover, with the right support and information, mothers with breast implants can often navigate breastfeeding effectively, providing their babies with nourishment and the many benefits of breast milk.

Key Takeaways of Can You Breastfeed After Breast Augmentation

  • Breastfeeding after breast augmentation is typically feasible and considered safe.
  • Surgical specifics and post-surgery care can affect breastfeeding success.
  • Addressing breastfeeding challenges is key for nourishing an infant post-augmentation.

Understanding Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure to enhance breast size and shape. Specifics such as implant types, procedure methods, and potential risks are crucial for prospective patients to consider.

Image Credit: 3kstudio / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Types of Implants

There are primarily two types of breast implants used in breast augmentation surgery: saline and silicone. Saline implants consist of a silicone shell filled with sterile salt water, while silicone implants are filled with a silicone gel that feels more like natural breast tissue. Within these categories, variations in shape, texture, and size allow for a customized approach that fits a patient’s anatomy and desired outcome.

Procedure Overview

The procedure typically involves the surgeon making an incision in inconspicuous areas to minimize visible scarring. Common types of incision include inframammary (under the breast crease), periareolar (around the nipple), or transaxillary (in the armpit). The implants may be placed under the pectoral muscle or directly behind the breast tissue, over the muscle. This decision is strategically made by the plastic surgeon based on the patient’s body type, implant choice, and surgical approach, ensuring optimal integration with the patient’s chest wall.

Breastfeeding Post-Augmentation

Women who have undergone breast augmentation can often still breastfeed, but they may experience variations in milk production and nipple sensitivity. The ability to breastfeed successfully post-surgery can depend on the specific surgical techniques used and how they have affected the breast’s anatomy.

Breastfeeding Mechanics

Breastfeeding requires the coordination of glandular tissue, milk ducts, and nerves within the breast to produce and deliver milk to the baby. During augmentation, implants are placed either under the glandular tissue or the chest muscle. When implants are under the muscle, they might influence milk production less, as highlighted by the CDC. However, surgical technique and site placement can impact the breast’s natural functions.

Impact on Milk Production

The milk supply in mothers who have had breast implants might be sufficient, but can vary based on how the surgery was conducted. The Cleveland Clinic cites that starting to breastfeed farther out from the surgery can increase the likelihood of adequate milk production. Successful breastfeeding also relies on the preservation of key nerves and milk ducts during the augmentation procedure.

Nipple and Duct Considerations

The surgical approach can impact lactation if nerves and ducts are affected. For instance, peripheral nerve damage can lessen nipple sensitivity, impacting the baby’s latching ability and hence, breastfeeding. Any surgery around the areola can risk damaging milk ducts or nerves critical to lactation and optimal breastfeeding.

Post-Surgery Care for Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding after breast augmentation requires attentive post-surgery care to ensure the mother’s comfort and the successful initiation of breastfeeding. Adequate preparation and support are paramount.

Immediate Post-Op Care

After breast surgery, mothers may face initial challenges with breastfeeding. Engorgement, a common concern, occurs when the breasts become overly full with milk. To manage engorgement and promote comfort, the use of cold compresses can be helpful. Applying compresses in intervals of 15 to 20 minutes can alleviate discomfort. Additionally, a breast pump may be used to express milk and maintain supply if the baby is unable to latch properly in the early stages post-operation.

Lactation Support

Seeking help from a lactation consultant can be incredibly beneficial. These professionals provide tailored advice and strategies to aid in establishing breastfeeding after surgery. The lactation consultant will assess the mother’s unique situation, including incision placement and nerve damage, to optimize breastfeeding practices. Regular sessions with a consultant can help monitor milk supply, advice on proper latch techniques, and offer solutions to any issues that arise.

Breastfeeding Challenges and Solutions

Breastfeeding after breast augmentation has unique challenges, but with the right knowledge and support, many mothers can nurse successfully.

Common Concerns

Breast augmentation can sometimes lead to concerns about milk production and the ability for the baby to latch properly. Incision placement during surgery is a significant factor; incisions made under the fold of the breast or through the armpit are less likely to cause difficulties with breastfeeding than periareolar incisions, which are more likely to damage milk ducts or nerves. Mothers might experience nerve damage that can affect milk let-down, even though the production of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production, is typically not impacted by augmentation.

In some cases, breast milk supply may be insufficient due to the surgery, and mothers may need to supplement with formula to ensure their baby receives adequate nutrition. Engorgement and mastitis, a painful infection of breast tissue, are other issues mothers face, particularly when milk supply is not well established or if they have difficulty nursing.

When to Consult a Professional

It’s essential for mothers to seek guidance from a healthcare professional if they’re facing challenges with breastfeeding after augmentation. A pediatrician can monitor the baby’s weight and overall health to ensure they’re getting enough to eat.

Consulting with a lactation consultant is highly beneficial as they can offer personalized strategies to improve nursing techniques, suggest ways to increase breast milk production, and provide support for proper latching.

The decision to supplement with formula should be made with professional advice, as it might affect breast milk supply and the baby’s willingness to breastfeed. Mothers should also consult a professional immediately if they experience symptoms of mastitis or if there are concerns about incision healing or pain that could hamper the breastfeeding experience.

Image Credit: Traimak / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Health and Nutrition

When considering breastfeeding after breast augmentation, attention to health and nutrition is paramount. Key factors include a well-balanced diet and understanding the implications of medications on breast milk.

Diet and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding mothers should maintain a nutrient-rich diet to support milk production and their baby’s growth. This involves:

  • Adequate Caloric Intake: They may need up to 500 additional calories per day compared to their pre-pregnancy diet.
  • Diverse Food Groups: Including whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of water is crucial as dehydration can impact milk supply.

Medications and Impact on Breastfeeding

Mothers should consult their healthcare providers about any medications they are taking, as some can affect breastfeeding.

  • Medication Transfer: Medication can be transferred to the infant through breast milk, potentially affecting their health.
  • Weight Gain: Certain medications can promote weight gain, which might impact a mother’s health during and after pregnancy.
  • Prescription and OTC Drugs: Transparency about all medicines, including over-the-counter drugs, is essential for assessing their safety for breastfeeding.

Following the guidance from healthcare professionals ensures mother and infant well-being during the breastfeeding period post-breast augmentation.

Breast Surgery Beyond Augmentation

Breast surgery encompasses various procedures that can affect breastfeeding potential, with outcomes dependent on the type of surgery and extent of tissue removed or altered.

Comparing Reduction, Lift, and Mastectomy

Breast Reduction: Often sought by individuals experiencing discomfort from larger breast size, breast reduction surgery may impact milk production. Techniques that preserve the nipple and areola connection to milk ducts may allow for more successful breastfeeding experiences.

Breast Lift: A breast lift, or mastopexy, which repositions the breast tissue and nipple without removing much tissue, typically has less of an impact on breastfeeding. This procedure is primarily cosmetic and does not usually interfere with the breast’s functional elements.

Mastectomy: This surgery, performed as a treatment for breast cancer, removes breast tissue and possibly lymph nodes. Depending on the extent, a mastectomy can significantly reduce or eliminate the ability to breastfeed. Women who undergo a partial mastectomy might retain some breastfeeding capability if essential nerves and ducts are intact. Radiation therapy, which may follow a mastectomy, can also impact breast tissue and milk production.

Future Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Potential

Breast Surgery Before Pregnancy: Women contemplating future pregnancies should discuss with their surgeon the potential impacts breast surgery could have on breastfeeding. In breast augmentation, for instance, surgical techniques that avoid incisions around the areolar region generally preserve milk ducts and nerves, fostering better breastfeeding outcomes.

Breast Surgery After Pregnancy: Those who have had breast surgery are often concerned about their ability to breastfeed. With surgeries like reduction or mastectomy, milk production might be compromised. However, every woman’s body responds differently, and many can produce sufficient milk for breastfeeding. Consulting with a lactation specialist post-surgery can provide guidance tailored to an individual’s circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Breastfeed After Breast Augmentation

1. How Does Breast Augmentation Impact Milk Production and Supply?

Breast augmentation can potentially affect milk production and supply, depending on the type of surgery and location of incisions. In most cases, women with breast implants are able to breastfeed, given that the ducts and nerves important for lactation remain intact.

2. Are There Any Risks Involved in Breastfeeding with Implants?

Breastfeeding with implants is generally considered safe, although there is a need for mindful observation. Risks may include concerns about implant leakage or the potential for decreased milk supply, depending on how the surgery was performed.

3. Can Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Cause Changes to The Appearance of Breast Implants?

Pregnancy and breastfeeding may lead to changes in breast tissue, which can alter the appearance of implants. These changes include potential sagging or shape alterations due to the expansion and contraction of breast size.

4. Is It Possible to Use a Breast Pump Effectively with Breast Implants?

Using a breast pump with breast implants is often possible. It’s important to use a high-quality double-electric breast pump to ensure effectiveness and maintain milk production.

Image Credit: Halfpoint / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Conclusion and Summary of Can You Breastfeed After Breast Augmentation Surgery?

Breastfeeding after cosmetic breast surgery encompasses a range of experiences and outcomes. By understanding the potential impacts of silicone breast implants and other surgeries, engaging with healthcare professionals, and employing adaptive feeding strategies, mothers can approach breastfeeding with confidence and knowledge.

As most women navigate this aspect of post-surgery life, the support from the medical community and published studies will continue to evolve, promoting positive breastfeeding experiences and the overall well-being of both mother and child.

The chances of successfully breastfeeding after a mastectomy vary greatly and largely depend on the extent of the surgery and whether any breast tissue or nerves have been preserved. Specialist guidance should be sought as every situation is unique.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before making any changes to your treatments, please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the appropriateness and safety of such changes.

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About the Author

Dr. Brandon Richland, MD is a respected Board Certified Licensed Plastic Surgeon in Orange County / Southern California specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Driven by his passion for medicine, Dr. Richland obtained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the prestigious program at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine in 2013. His exceptional skills were recognized when he received the McGraw Hill / Lange Medical Student Academic Achievement Award, and graduated top of his class with Honors. For his undergraduate degree, he attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with Honors in 2009.

To further enhance his surgical expertise, Dr. Richland completed his Residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2013 to 2019 earning the Academic Achievement Award twice during this period. A total of 14 years in dedicated schooling and medical residency.

Dr. Richland is actively involved with healthcare and medical societies, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Contact Dr. Richland today by visiting RichlandMD.com, scheduling a cosmetic consultation, or by calling 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 directly.