Women from all walks of life have received breast implants over the last 30 or so years. Breast augmentation is the number one elective cosmetic surgery today in Australia. Due to the growing number of women having breast augmentation before having children many have questioned whether they will be able to breastfeed when they do finally decide to start their family. For most women with implants breastfeeding should not be a problem. The general consensus is, that if you would have been able to breastfeed before surgery then there should be no reason why you could not breastfeed after the surgery.
During surgery some nerves or milk ducts can be adversely affected due to how the breast is cut, the placement of the implants and the type of implants. There are three more commonly used incisions for breast implants – inframammary fold (under or the breast fold); periareolar (around the nipple); and transaxillary (through the armpit). It may be suggested that to avoid damage to the milk ducts or nerves the incision can be made under the breast, in the armpit or through the belly button. Under the breast seems to be the most common and widely used approach.Doctors seem to now be able to minimize the actual incision and thus the scarring. With the implants being placed beneath the muscle tissue it has been said that this poses a lesser chance of obstructing the milk ducts and nerves in the nipple area. This is definitely something to bring up with your surgeon at your consult.
Another consideration when receiving breast implants is whether to go with saline or silicone. Although, both are housed in a silicone package it all depends on how you want your breast to look. In Australia, the majority of implants chosen are silicone. Saline implants tend to cause a rippling of the skin, but it is easier to detect when an implant ruptures. Once ruptured the saline is absorbed into the body over the next few days changing the appearance of the breast. The only way to tell when the silicone implants rupture, is to perform an MRI to see if the silicone has reached as far as the lymph nodes. Doctors prefer to remove the implant and any loose silicone to avoid any problems that the rupture may cause.
Several studies have been conducted on the milk from women with breast enhancements and without. To date there has been shown no significant increase in the amount of silicone trace in the milk. Doctors have found nothing to link birth defects in children born to mothers with the implants to the implants themselves. One study did report low birth weight but could not be certain that this did not pertain to the mother’s low pre-pregnancy weight. So for now we will consider it an old wives tale that women who have implants can’t breastfeed.