Many women with breast implants wonder if they can still breastfeed their babies or not. Patients should always bear in mind that breast augmentation may somewhat affect the sensation of the nipple, although the devices do not automatically prevent mothers to produce natural milk.
Majority of women with breast implants are able to breastfeed successfully, despite some rumors that the devices can prevent them to do so. There are also some misconceptions that these can contaminate the milk, potentially harming the baby; in fact, studies have suggested that formula milk contains significantly higher amounts of silicone than the milk produced by breast augmentation patients.
Meanwhile, small amounts of silicone are naturally present in mother’s milk.
According to a recent study, most breast augmentation patients who were unable to breastfeed were concerned that doing so may lead to sagging; this means the “inability to breastfeed” is really not the issue but more likely their “unwillingness.”
But contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding does not cause sagging as pregnancy alone is the culprit. And the more pregnancies a patient will experience, the more likely her breast tissue and ligament will droop.
Breast implant itself does not cause compromised ability to breastfeed. Most plastic surgeons believe that the incision site (e.g., within the breast crease, around the areola, and inside the armpit) is the factor that primarily affects the sensation of nipple after surgery.
For women who are considering breast augmentation but are planning to have a baby in the future, the best thing is to avoid the peri-areolar incision in which a U-shaped cut is made within the dark pigmented part of skin. During the technique, there is a higher chance that the nerves are severed, thereby affecting the sensation.
Patients should remember that loss of sensation in the nipple makes it difficult to breastfeed.
However, several studies have suggested that years after breast augmentation surgery, most of the severed nerves can repair themselves, a process called reinnervation. This clearly shows the remarkable ability of the body to heal itself.
For women with breast implants, they often have a better chance to successfully breastfeed if longer time has transpired since their surgery. In fact, one study has suggested that five years after the procedure, most of the nerves that were damaged during the incision have already reconnected and have been repaired by the body.
Nevertheless, many doctors believe that inserting breastimplants on the side or underneath the breast will cause the least amount of damage to the nerve endings and milk ducts.