Breastfeeding and Implants: What You Need to Know
Have you ever considered breast implants, but held off because you hoped to breastfeed your baby someday? Have you already gotten implants, but aren’t sure if breastfeeding is safe- or even possible? A recent study may offer some hope to patients considering nursing with implants. We asked plastic surgeon Dr. Ryan Mitchell for some clarification.
You may have heard the rumor floating around that it’s not possible to breastfeed a baby after having breast implants placed- but according to a study published in the December issue of the medical journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, that’s one rumor that is mostly untrue. The study was conducted by researchers at Sanatorio de la Mujer and Centro Quirúrgico Rosario in Rosario, Argentina, and followed 200 new mothers who planned to breastfeed their newborns. Of those 200 subjects, 100 had implants, 100 did not. Of the 100 women in the group without implants, 99% successfully breastfed their babies after one month. Of the 100 women with implants, a surprising 93% successfully breastfed after the first month as well.
Even more fascinating was the discovery that the type of incision used to insert the breast implant had no effect on the subject’s breastfeeding success rate. Says Mitchell "It has been long believed by many surgeons that women with submammary incisions have a better chance of breastfeeding successfully than women with periareolar incisions- but this study has found that to be untrue as well."
As for those women who are concerned that breastfeeding will cause their implants to sag or become damaged, there’s good news for them, too. An unrelated study conducted in 2013 by researchers at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in San Juan, PR found that breastfeeding had no effect on breasts with or without implants- though according to Mitchell, pregnancy itself still may change the breast. "Breastfeeding gets a bad rap for changing the breast tissue, but it’s actually the pregnancy hormones responsible for breast changes- not the breastmilk." So, what’s a woman who want’s it all supposed to do? "If you already have implants and would like to nurse your baby, the odds are in your favor," says Mitchell. "If you’re considering getting implants and don’t want to wait until someday when you may or may not have a baby, there’s no reason to put off a breast augmentation right now. But if you’re planning on getting pregnant in the next few years, it might be better to wait if you’re concerned about the effects of pregnancy on your body." For those who currently have implants and do notice a difference in their breasts post-pregnancy, Mitchell offers this reminder "Breast implants weren’t meant to stay in the body for the rest of your life. You eventually will need an update surgery, so if you’re unhappy with how pregnancy has changed your augmentation, it’s definitely correctable when you update your implants. That’s something you should absolutely mention to your surgeon."