Breast Feeding with Implants

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With over half-a-million women worldwide receiving breast implants each year, the question of breastfeeding after surgery is a pertinent one. While the reasons behind seeking augmentation may differ from correcting deformities to responding to treatment after breast cancer, the most common motive continues to be for cosmetic purposes. With that said, when women who have undergone this procedure fall pregnant and start to prepare for the birth of their babies, they can experience anxiety about breastfeeding.

Giving baby the best start

“Approximately 80% of women who receive breast implants are under the age of 30, and so it stands to reason that there is a heightened concern about breastfeeding after cosmetic implants and whether it is safe for babies. The good news is that it is possible to breastfeed after surgery. Most women have at least some milk, and it is important to bear in mind that any breast milk that can be given to baby is incredibly important, boosting their immune system, brain and gut development," explains Dr Rayne of the Netcare Breast Care Centre.

The science behind implants and breastfeeding

It is important to bear in mind that breast feeding does depend on adequate breast milk tissue. Women with small breast may worry that they would not have 'enough breast' to breastfeed. Studies have shown that the size of the breast is in no way related to the ability to breastfeed. In the case of a breast deformity corrected by implants, such as tuberous breasts or absent breasts (amastia), there is more difficulties. This is also true if breast tissue has been removed due to cancer or breast reduction."

The method used to place the implant, specifically the type of incision, does make a difference. In comparisons between women with and without implants, those who had had an incision around the nipple, as opposed to beneath the breast in the inframammary fold or armpit, were more likely to experience problems with breastfeeding. This is because the ducts which move milk to the nipple may have been cut, or the area is scarred. In addition, the nerve that gives feedback from the brain to make milk may be damaged, particularly if the cut is in the lower, outer quadrant.

Although moms will not know how good their milk supply will be, if sensation is felt in the nipple, the chances are higher that they will have a more complete supply.

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