Lowdown on Breastfeeding with Implants
By Dr. Michael L. Thornton | Feb 12, 2017
The most common concerns regarding breastfeeding and breast augmentation include milk production, nipple sensitivity, milk contamination, and changes in breast shape.
- Concern 1: Does beast augmentation have a negative impact on milk production? This concern is best addressed by the placement of the incision during breast augmentation. The most common placement of the incision is the inframmary breast crease where the breast meets the chest wall. I place my incision in the inframmary crease 99% of the time. This scar placement stays far away from the nipple and the delicate milk ducts located around the areola and lowers the chance for injury. Alternatively, incisions placed in the armpit or belly button also lower the chance of injury to the milk ducts. On the contrary, incisions placed directly around the nipple-areola complex may induce scarring and thus increase the risk of trauma to the milk ducts and glands.
- Concern 2: Does breast augmentation make the nipples more or less sensitive, which could affect breastfeeding? Overall, cosmetic breast surgeons are unable to completely guarantee there will not be any numbness to the nipple following breast augmentation. However, I strive to reduce nipple sensitivity by following careful dissection techniques and limiting direct trauma to the nipple or breast tissue. Furthermore, when the implant is placed behind the breast muscle, the risk of nipple sensitivity is reduced. Nipple sensitivity following breast augmentation is self-limited and resolves in several weeks and is caused by stretching of the 4th intercostal nerve located near the outer portion of your breast against the ribs. Following breast augmentation, this nerve may become compressed or stretched (referred to as neuropraxia). Again, this condition is not permanent and resolves with time. In summary, breast augmentation alone does not directly cause nipple sensitivity or insensitivity; however, creating incisions in the inframmary crease and placing the implants below the muscle may lessen this self-limited problem.
- Concern 3: What is the possibility of milk contamination if my implants rupture? No studies have supported the idea that a ruptured saline or silicone implant could contaminate milk supply. Breast implants placed below the muscle are well protected from the actual breast tissue and in no way come into direct contact with the breast tissue so the risk is extremely low. Furthermore, breast implants placed in front of the muscle are located deep to the breast tissue and the implants are wrapped in a protective capsule that creates a resistant barrier. In summary, this would be an extremely rare circumstance and I would not be overly concerned.
- Concern 4: Could breastfeeding change the size and shape of my breasts if I already have breast implants? Studies have shown that breastfeeding following breast augmentation does not affect the size, shape or appearance of the breast. In fact, most women have found that their breasts will appear similar following breastfeeding when implants are in place.
Finally, it is believed that concerns associated with breast implants and breastfeeding are much smaller than first thought. However, if you are concerned about your ability to breastfeed after breast augmentation, it might be wise to delay breast augmentation surgery until your family plans have completed.