How Breast Implants Impact Breastfeeding

Plastic Surgeons Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Santa Clara & Nearby South Bay, California

Posted: August 2, 2018

Pregnancy Following Breast Augmentation.jpgIf you are considering breast augmentation and you plan on having children in the future, it is important to understand how breast implants may impact your ability to breastfeed - and what steps can be taken to help ensure such impact is minimized. During your initial consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons, we will take the time needed to fully understand both your current desires and future plans, and we will make recommendations that serve to strike a balance between the two.

To schedule your plastic surgery consultation at our Los Altos office, please call 650-934-7020 today. We welcome patients from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and all surrounding areas of California.

Breast Implant Incisions

There are three primary incision locations for breast implant placement:

  • Around the nipple in the dark skin of the areola (areolar incision)
  • Underneath the breasts in the crease where breast-fold and chest meet (inframammary incision)
  • Through the armpit, in the natural creases of axilla (transaxillary incision)

Of these, only the areolar incision may interfere with breastfeeding.

It is typically recommended that women who plan on having children in the future choose either inframammary or transaxillary incisions for breast implant placement. Incisions made in the lower, outer quadrant of the areola can reduce nerve response to the nipple, which can impede milk ejection. When milk ejection is reduced, milk production will slow. A similar reduction in nerve response has not been seen in women who have had implants placed through incisions underneath the breasts or in the armpits.

Breast Implant Placement

Breastfeeding With Breast ImplantsIn addition to incision location, the placement of your breast implants can have an impact on milk production. Women who are planning to breastfeed in the future may benefit from having implants placed underneath the muscles in the chest (submuscular breast implant placement). The alternative, above chest muscles (subglandular breast implant placement), is more likely to compress milk ducts and reduce milk supply.

The natural shape of your breasts may already be a hindrance to milk production. Women with underdeveloped breasts, tubular-shaped or asymmetrical breasts, or breasts that are spaced farther apart (a flat space of 1.5 inches or more) may already be at risk for lower milk production. Breast implants placed above chest muscles may serve to exacerbate this issue and make breastfeeding much more difficult. To avoid this potential complication, submuscular placement is best.

It should be noted that women with underdeveloped breasts are not typically good candidates for subglandular breast implant placement under any circumstances. Subglandular implant placement requires sufficient breast tissue to cover the implant. Insufficient breast tissue will make the implant visible and increase risks for aesthetic imperfections such as double-bubble and visible wrinkles and ripples.

While some modern implants, such as form-stable (gummy bear implants) may better mimic breast tissue, allowing for above the muscle placement in a larger number of women, even these advanced options are not ideal for women with very small breasts. During your initial consultation at our Los Altos office, your board-certified plastic surgeon will carefully assess your frame to help you determine which placement option is best. If you are considering breastfeeding in the future, that option is almost certainly submuscular.

Can Breast Milk Production be Increased?

Low milk supply may be the result of hormones or an underlying physical issue. It may also be the result of an infant who is a less enthusiastic eater or who has difficulty latching on. In these cases, a lactation specialist is often useful at helping find ways to improve production. Many hospitals have lactation specialists on site. The La Leche League also offers a number of resources, both through their website and local groups. There are currently eight La Leche League groups within 25 miles of Los Altos, including in Mountain View and Palo Alto. There are two La Leche League groups in San Jose.

It is possible that the removal of subglandular breast implants will help improve milk supply, but breast implant removal should not be done during the period that you are breastfeeding. If you currently have subglandular breast implants and you are concerned about future milk production, it is best to undergo breast augmentation revision surgery before you start trying to conceive.

Breastfeeding is Important

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing a number of diseases including:

  • Childhood leukemia
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

In addition, breastfed babies are less likely to struggle with obesity, eczema, and ear infections.

Breastfeeding With Breast ImplantsBreast milk adjusts to a baby’s needs, providing essential building blocks for organs, muscles, and tissue at each stage of development. Research has shown that information stored in the saliva of babies actually stimulates changes in breast milk nutrient content, allowing for the exact needs of the baby to be met. This is why most pediatricians and health care experts agree that breastfeeding is one of the most important gifts you can give to your child.

August is National Breastfeeding Month and the first week, August 1st -7th, is World Breastfeeding Week. Both of these campaigns are intended to increase awareness about the importance of breastfeeding, particularly as it relates to the healthy development of babies. Research has shown that babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives are less likely to develop asthma, diarrhea, and respiratory illnesses in addition to reduced risks for those diseases and disorders listed above.

What's more, breastfeeding reduces maternal risks of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. And, while a direct link has not been found, there is evidence to suggest breastfeeding also helps speed the weight loss process, helping new moms reclaim their bodies in a shorter period of time.

If you are at this stage and are having troubles restoring your body to its post-pregnancy state, we would be happy to discuss the mommy makeover procedure during your initial consultation. This procedure addresses excess skin and fat around the midsection, separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti), and other issues that may accompany pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.

Contact Us to Learn More

At Altos Oaks Plastic Surgery, we are dedicated to helping women achieve their goals while honoring their long-term plans. Please call our office at 650-934-7020 to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons where you can discuss these things in greater detail and learn more about the procedures and procedural techniques that will best meet those needs. 

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