Breastfeeding with Implants: Is it Safe?

At the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, we utilize a trans-axillary (under the arm pit) approach with submuscular placement of mainly silicone (and sometimes saline) breast implants. Not only does will it give you amazing results, but also our technique maximizes the chances that you will be able to breast feed after breast augmentation surgery. We also encourage you to meet with an obstetrician or lactation specialist after pregnancy to formulate the best plan for you either before or after having breast implants. Dr. Bitar has been performing this technique for over twenty years with great success, and not a single breast augmentation patient has reported not being able to breastfeed after their breast augmentation!

So, how does breast augmentation affect breast feeding? It is an important issue because the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breast feeding for all infants in the first 6 months of life. The benefits of breast feeding for infants include protection against illness, higher intelligence, decreased rates of obesity, and diminished chances of developing diabetes later in life. For the mother, breast feeding increases maternal-infant bonding, promotes faster weight loss, and decreases risk of breast and ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Breast augmentation is one of the most common aesthetic surgeries performed. In the United States alone, 313,000 breast augmentations were performed in 2018. Fortunately, breast implants have been the most studied medical devices in the world, and there are some answers regarding the impact of breast augmentation surgery on breast feeding.

Here are some facts about breast implants and breast feeding that you should know:

Fact #1: Implants placed behind the muscle are better for breast feeding than implants in front of the muscle.
Implant location was more important than the surgical approach or type of implant. According to one study, patients who had breast implants behind the muscle (our preferred approach) had a much higher chance of being able to successfully breast feed than patients with implants above the muscle.

Fact #2: The location of the incision does not impact breast feeding
Although we prefer the trans-axillary approach, studies have shown that there is no statistically significant difference in the ability to breast feed whether breast augmentations are performed from the trans-axillary approach, peri-areolar approach (around the nipple), or inframammary approach (under the breast).

Fact #3: The type of implant does not affect the success of breast feeding
There has been no evidence that saline is better than silicone or vice versa when it comes to breast feeding.

Fact #4: Breast feeding after breast augmentation is safe for baby and mom
Many women are concerned that the silicone will leach into the breast milk and be transmitted to the baby. Fortunately, the amount of silicon in blood and breast milk were no different in women with and without breast implants. There has also been no evidence that breast feeding increased the risk of implant rupture or capsular contracture.

Fact #5: Breast feeding does not create sagging of the breasts
It is often thought that breast feeding will ruin the appearance of the breasts. A study of women with breast implants did not show any difference in breast sagging whether they breast fed or not.

Fact #6: Breast augmentation decreases the ability to breast feed.
Studies have shown some decrease in lactation with breast implants; however, it is unclear whether that is statistically significant. Women with breast augmentation may need to supplement their breast milk with formula.

In summary, our technique at the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute of breast augmentations from the armpit and under the muscle is very safe for breast feeding afterwards. Studies have shown that there is no harm to mother and baby if the mother chooses to breast feed after having breast augmentation. Breast feeding is a personal decision that will benefit the mother and baby in many ways, and breast implants do not stand in the way.

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