Can I Breastfeed With Breast Implants?

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Are you worried that getting breast implants will keep you from breastfeeding your baby? Just take a look at former Playmate Kendra Wilkinson!

Kendra has had breast implants for a while, and had no problem breastfeeding her first baby, but this is still a hot topic among mothers-to-be. If you’re on the road to parenthood, you’ve probably gotten a lot of mixed information about breastfeeding with implants. Don’t worry! It’s not as scary, or as complicated, as you might think.

Keep Reading to find out why…

Breast Implants are Breastfeeding-Friendly

Research suggests that women with breast implants have the same success rate with breastfeeding as women without implants. In other words, getting breast implants doesn’t change your ability to breast feed. All women, regardless of whether or not they have implants, are able to breastfeed successfully about 50-60% of the time.

Consider Your Incision Choices

If you want to increase your chances of being able to breastfeed after getting breast implants, it’s important to consider your incision choices. Even though most research suggests that there is no correlation between incision choice and breastfeeding, it’s still worth thinking about it logically.

If your implant incisions were made underneath your breast in the fold (an inframammary incision) or through your armpit (a transaxillary incision), you’ll probably be in the clear. These incision do not disrupt the breast gland or milk ducts, which means that there should be no effect upon your breastfeeding ability as a result of your surgery.

Periareolar and transareolar incisions (incisions around the areola or through the nipple) can cut through your milk ducts, which means your milk may not find a direct pathway to the nipple. Secondly, the incisions can cause damage to the nerves around your areola that help stimulate your milk production. If this happens, it can affect your ability to produce enough milk to nurse. That being said, many women have had periareolar or transareolar breast surgery and subsequently been able to breastfeed with no problems whatsoever.

“Spoiled” Milk

There has been some controversy over the question of how the silicone breast implants affect breast milk (remember, saline breast implants have silicone shells too).

Some small-scale studies conducted in the early ‘90s suggested that the leakage of silicone from implants into breast milk was causing health problems for some nursing infants. Since then, several large-scale studies on the subject have failed support those findings, and the official medical stance is that there is silicone levels in breast milk are completely unchanged by silicone breast implants. Silicone levels in the blood of women with silicone implants are exactly the same as in women without implants, and some studies even suggest that infant formula has more silicone than breast milk in women with implants!

“Planned Parenthood”

A little careful planning can go a long way! If you know you’re planning to have children, talk to your surgeon and a lactation consultant before you pursue implants. They’ll be able to give a thorough idea of the risks and benefits involved.

If think you’re going to start, or continue, your family soon, you may want to wait to get implants until after you’ve finished breastfeeding… not because you should be worried about the breastfeeding itself, but because the process of breastfeeding could change how your implants look. If kids are still years off and you really want your surgery now, let your doctor know that breastfeeding is in your future. That will ensure that you get the surgery that’s right, not just for you, but also for your future baby.

The Bottom Line

Experts estimate that getting breast implants gives you an extra 5-10% risk of not being able to breastfeed, but don’t forget that only 50-60% of women can breast feed successfully in the first place. If you get breast implants and end up not being able to breastfeeds, chances are that you wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed regardless.

Having a breast augmentation is as personal of a decision for a woman as having a child is. Do your research and be honest with your doctor before you go through the procedure. The bottom line is, if you were capable of breastfeeding prior to having your breasts augmented, you’ll probably be able to do it afterward too!

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Usha Rajagopal, MD

San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

NOTICE: None of the celebrities or individuals discussed here have ever received treatment, surgery, medical advice, or evaluations from any author, physician, surgeon, or representative of this blog. All images and photos in this article represent models only. No actual patients or clients are shown.

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