One of the most common questions plastic surgeons get about breast implants from patients who are thinking of having children down the line is whether they will affect the ability to breast-feed. It’s a valid question considering that milk ducts are part of breast anatomy, but are they even disturbed during surgery? Can you still produce the same amount? Where should the implant go? Here, top plastic surgeons break down exactly how breast implants can affect your breast-feeding success.
Average Success Rate
“Interestingly, not all women can breast-feed,” explains Tucson, AZ plastic surgeon Raman Mahabir, MD. “According to research only 70 percent of women do. After getting breast implants, only about 60 percent of women can. So, while there is a slight reduction in the ability it’s not off the table and women with implant should be encouraged to try if they desire to do so.”
The Best Time for Surgery
In general, most surgeons will recommend having a breast augmentation after you’re done having children if you plan to do so. “Having children can have a big impact on breast shape and size, so it’s ideal to be done or have no immediate plans to do so,” says Des Moines, IA plastic surgeon David L. Robbins, MD. “If you do expect to have a pregnancy in the future, you can still have a breast augmentation as long as you understand that your breasts may change in size, shape and skin laxity, which may require the need for a breast lift at a later date after childbirth.”
Nashville plastic surgeon Daniel Hatef, MD says questions surrounding the ability and safety of women breast-feeding after breast augmentation have been around since silicone breast implants began to be used en masse in the 1960s. “Generally, it has been said that about 25 percent of women have difficulty with milk production after breast augmentation,” he explains. “While some will be able to breast-feed with formula supplementation, a few will be completely incapable of breast-feeding and will completely rely on formula.”
According to Houston, TX plastic surgeon Henry A. Mentz, MD there are some surgical factors that can negatively impact breast-feeding. “Like peri-areolar incisions, meaning around the nipple, which can cause some sensitivity changes,” he explains. “This incisional approach cuts across breast tissue that typically contain some of the milk ducts involved in mild production.”
Where the implant is placed does not seem to matter. “At this time, there is no data to suggest that there is a difference in breast-feeding success whether or not the implant is placed above or below the muscle,” says Dr. Hatef.
However, Dr. Mentz says about 95 percent of patients can successfully breast-feed after breast augmentation. “If a patient can breast-feed normally, then implants will not restrict them,” says the surgeon.