Can you breastfeed after getting breast implants? - Evidence Based Babies
breast feeding
Silicone breast implants while breastfeeding

Can you breastfeed after getting breast implants?

If you’re a mom who had breast surgery, or multiple breast surgeries before having a baby and you want to breastfeed, you may have the question of whether you can breastfeed with implants. You may have heard that you won’t be able to breastfeed after breast implant surgeries, but I’m here to bust that myth.

Can you breastfeed with implants?

Yes, of course you can! I’ll remind you that breastfeeding is not just about the milk, it’s about so much more. It offers babies comfort and helps with the mother-infant attachment too.

Although exclusive breastfeeding is recommended, it’s not always possible. You can breastfeed even if you don’t produce any milk at all. Comfort and bonding are just as important as the nutritional benefits.

As for the breastmilk part of breastfeeding, every case is different. Some women can exclusively breastfeed, others may be able to produce only half of their baby’s milk needs, others may produce very little to no breastmilk at all.

Studies show that 75% of mothers who had implants done, can successfully breastfeed. No one can predict whether a mother with implants will be able to produce a full milk supply or not, but there are ways to reduce the risk factors and increase the likelihood of your breastfeeding success.

The safety of silicone implants while breastfeeding

One study showed that the group of lactating women with silicone implants had similar levels of silicone in their blood and breastmilk compared to the control group of women who didn’t have silicone implants.

These studies also showed that silicone levels are 10 times higher in cow’s milk and even higher in infant formulas than in the blood and breastmilk of women who have silicone implants.

There is no real difference in the success of breastfeeding in mothers with silicone implants vs saline implants.

Risks of implants and breastfeeding

Insufficient milk supply

When you have breast surgery, there is always a risk of insufficient milk supply while breastfeeding. This can be due to many reasons including underdeveloped breast tissue, inhibited letdown and scar tissue.

Sometimes, despite making every effort to reduce the risks during surgery, some women may still be unable to produce a full milk supply.

Inhibited letdown reflex

When a baby suckles at the breast, it signals the brain to release oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the letdown reflex. If your nipples have reduced sensitivity, this may cause complications with the letdown, and in return, the milk supply.

Sensitive nipples

After breast surgery, some women may experience excessive or reduced nipple sensitivity. If you’re experiencing excessive nipple sensitivity after your breast surgery, you may struggle with sore nipples while breastfeeding.

Breast engorgement

Because the implant takes up quite a lot of room in the breast, it may leave less room for breast expansion during normal engorgement, causing painful and prolonged engorgement which can lead to mastitis if not treated promptly.

Mastitis

Breast implants have been shown to increase the risk of mastitis in the first 6 months postpartum.

Factors influencing milk production

The reason for your implants

There are many different reasons women choose to get breast implants. One of the main reasons is because of breast size. Other reasons include flat chests, the shape of your breasts such as tubular shaped breasts and asymmetrical breasts.

You may have had smaller natural breasts because of insufficient glandular tissue, a condition where mothers do not have adequate secretory tissue to develop a full supply of milk.

The type of incision

Where the incision is made is a very big factor in the success of milk production after breast surgery.

If the incisions were made on the nipples or areolas, there is a big chance that there was damage to the nerves and milk ducts which will highly likely cause milk supply issues. If the incisions were made under the breast or in the armpit, the risk of damage, and therefore milk supply issues are reduced.

The implant placement

The placement of your implants can make a significant difference in your ability to produce breastmilk. If your implants were placed under the pectoral muscle, which is the chest muscle, it’s less likely to cause complications than if it were placed right under the glandular tissue, or in front of the pectoral muscle.

Placing an implant in front of the pectoral muscle, right under the glandular tissue, can cause pressure on the breast tissue and milk ducts, which can cause the milk supply to slow down.

The formation of scar tissue

Sometimes, breast surgery may cause scar tissue which can cause damage to the glandular tissue and milk ducts. In some cases, it may completely block or sever the milk ducts.

Nipple sensation

When a baby suckles at the breast it tells the brain to release oxytocin which is the hormone responsible for the letdown. If you have little to no sensitivity in your nipples, it may cause issues or even inhibit the letdown.

How long ago the surgery was done

Damaged milk ducts, glands, and nerves can sometimes repair themselves, but this happens over a period of years.

Breast implants also need to be replaced every 7-10 years, this is once again additional surgery which can cause even further damage to the breast and breast tissue.

How to ensure the best possible success when breastfeeding

Any amount of breastmilk matters

It’s important that you realize that no matter how much milk you’re able to produce for your baby, it’s good enough. Even if it’s just a few drops, it’s still highly nutritious and full of many benefits for you and your baby. Breastfeeding is not just about the milk, it’s about so much more. It offers comfort to your baby and bonding between you and your baby.

Work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

It’s very important that you work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) from the very beginning, even before birth if possible. A lactation consultant can help determine whether you may have insufficient glandular tissue which can cause low milk supply even if you didn’t have implants.

They can help you to position and latch your baby effectively from the very beginning and help you with many different methods to ensure that you have a good start. They can also assist you with techniques to ensure that you establish the best milk supply you possibly can. It would be best to reduce any breastfeeding difficulties or to treat them as soon as possible so they don’t affect your milk supply.

A lactation consultant can also help you monitor your baby to make sure that they’re getting enough milk and gaining weight as expected. They can also help you supplement your baby with your own breastmilk, with donor breastmilk, or with formula milk when needed.

Do lots of skin-to-skin care and feed responsively

Skin-to-skin care is known to help increase the milk supply. It also helps with bonding and encourages breastfeeding.

Feeding responsively means you will feed both on demand, and as you see fit. You will need to feed very frequently, especially in the first few weeks to make sure you establish the best milk supply you possibly can.

Important notes

Infants of mothers who had breast surgery, whether it’s a breast lift, breast implants or breast reduction surgery, should be monitored closely

If you’re a mom who had breast surgery, or multiple breast surgeries before having your baby and you want to breastfeed, you may have the question of whether you can breastfeed after implants. You may have heard that you won’t be able to breastfeed after breast implant surgeries, but I’m here to bust that myth.

Can you breastfeed with implants?

Yes, of course you can!

I’ll remind you that breastfeeding is not just about the milk, it’s about so much more. It offers babies comfort and helps with the mother-infant attachment too.

Although exclusive breastfeeding is recommended, it’s not always possible. You can breastfeed even if you don’t produce any milk at all. Comfort and bonding are just as important as the nutritional benefits.

As for the breastmilk part of breastfeeding, every case is different. Some women can exclusively breastfeed, others may be able to produce only half of their baby’s milk needs, others may produce very little to no breastmilk at all.

Studies show that 75% of mothers who had implants done, can successfully breastfeed.

No one can predict whether a mother with implants will be able to produce a full milk supply or not, but there are ways to reduce the risk factors and increase the likelihood of your breastfeeding success.

The safety of silicone implants while breastfeeding

One study showed that the group of lactating women with silicone implants had similar levels of silicone in their blood and breastmilk compared to the control group of women who didn’t have silicone implants.

These studies also showed that silicone levels are 10 times higher in cow’s milk and even higher in infant formulas than in the blood and breastmilk of women who have silicone implants’.

There is no real difference in the success of breastfeeding in mothers with silicone implants vs saline implants.

Risks of implants and breastfeeding

Insufficient milk supply

When you have breast surgery, there is always a risk of insufficient milk supply while breastfeeding. This can be due to many reasons including underdeveloped breast tissue, inhibited letdown and scar tissue.

Sometimes, despite making every effort to reduce the risks during surgery, some women may still be unable to produce a full milk supply.

Inhibited letdown reflex

When a baby suckles at the breast, it signals the brain to release oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the letdown reflex. If your nipples have reduced sensitivity, this may cause complications with the letdown, and in return, the milk supply.

Sensitive nipples

After breast surgery, some women may experience excessive or reduced nipple sensitivity. If you’re experiencing excessive nipple sensitivity after your breast surgery, you may struggle with sore nipples while breastfeeding.

Breast engorgement

Because the implant takes up quite a lot of room in the breast, it may leave less room for breast expansion during normal engorgement, causing painful and prolonged engorgement which can lead to mastitis if not treated promptly.

Mastitis

Breast implants have been shown to increase the risk of mastitis in the first 6 months postpartum.

Factors influencing milk production

The reason for your implants

There are many different reasons women choose to get breast implants. One of the main reasons is because of breast size. Other reasons include flat chests, the shape of your breasts such as tubular shaped breasts and asymmetrical breasts.

You may have had smaller natural breasts because of insufficient glandular tissue, a condition where mothers do not have adequate secretory tissue to develop a full supply of milk.

The type of incision

Where the incision is made is a very big factor in the success of milk production after breast surgery.

If the incisions were made on the nipples or areolas, there is a big chance that there was damage to the nerves and milk ducts which will highly likely cause milk supply issues.

If the incisions were made under the breast or in the armpit, the risk of damage, and therefore milk supply issues are reduced.

The implant placement

The placement of your implants can make a significant difference in your ability to produce breastmilk. If your implants were placed under the pectoral muscle, which is the chest muscle, it’s less likely to cause complications than if it were placed right under the glandular tissue, or in front of the pectoral muscle.

Placing an implant in front of the pectoral muscle, right under the glandular tissue, can cause pressure on the breast tissue and milk ducts, which can cause the milk supply to slow down.

The formation of scar tissue

Sometimes, breast surgery may cause scar tissue which can cause damage to the glandular tissue and milk ducts. In some cases, it may completely block or sever the milk ducts.

Nipple sensation

When a baby suckles at the breast it tells the brain to release oxytocin which is the hormone responsible for the letdown. If you have little to no sensitivity in your nipples, it may cause issues or even inhibit the letdown.

How long ago the surgery was done

Damaged milk ducts, glands, and nerves can sometimes repair themselves, but this happens over a period of years.

Breast implants also need to be replaced every 7-10 years, this is once again additional surgery which can cause even further damage to the breast and breast tissue.

How to ensure the best possible success when breastfeeding

Any amount of breastmilk matters

It’s important that you know that no matter how much milk you’re able to produce for your baby, it’s enough. Even if it’s just a few drops, it’s still highly nutritious and full of many benefits for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding is not just about the milk, it’s about so much more. It offers comfort to your baby and bonding between you and your baby.

Work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

It’s very important that you work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) from the very beginning, even before birth if possible.

A lactation consultant can help determine whether you may have insufficient glandular tissue which can cause low milk supply even if you didn’t have implants.

They can help you to position and latch your baby effectively from the very beginning and help you with many different methods to ensure that you have a good start. They can also assist you with techniques to ensure that you establish the best milk supply you possibly can. It would be best to reduce any breastfeeding difficulties or to treat them as soon as possible so they don’t affect your milk supply.

A lactation consultant can also help you monitor your baby to make sure that they’re getting enough milk and gaining weight as expected. They can also help you supplement your baby with your own breastmilk, with donor breastmilk, or with formula milk when needed.

Do lots of skin-to-skin care and feed responsively

Skin-to-skin care is known to help increase the milk supply. It also helps with bonding and encourages breastfeeding.

Feeding responsively means you will feed both on demand, and as you see fit. You will need to feed very frequently, especially in the first few weeks to make sure you establish the best milk supply you possibly can.

Important notes

Infants of mothers who had breast surgery, whether it’s a breast lift, breast implants or breast reduction surgery, should be monitored closely by their healthcare provider for both milk intake and the baby’s weight gain should also be monitored closely during the early days.

If you’re a woman wanting to have breast implant surgery before having babies, it’s recommended to wait until after having babies. Even if all of the risk factors were taken into account, there is still a possibility that it might affect breast milk production.

Always mention your future plans of having babies and breastfeeding to your breast surgeon/plastic surgeon so they can take care to reduce all the risk factors to give you the best opportunity to have a successful breastfeeding journey.

Additional information and resources:

AAP Silicon, Silicone, and Breast Implants

The World Health Organization (WHO)

Do Breast Implants Influence Breastfeeding? A Meta-Analysis of Comparative Studies

The impact of cosmetic breast implants on breastfeeding: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Impact on Breastfeeding According to Implant Features in Breast Augmentation: A Multicentric Retrospective Study

Associations between breast implants and postpartum lactational mastitis in breastfeeding women: retrospective study

Lactation Outcomes in More Than 3500 Women Following Primary Augmentation: 5-Year Data From the Breast Implant Follow-Up Study

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