According to the latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation has been the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States since 2006 with 286,000 performed in 2014 alone. With more and more women seeking implants at a younger age, one of the most pressing questions for many patients is: If you get breast implants, can you still nurse? The answer is a resounding YES.
by Katherine Stuart
The Plastic Surgery Channel
If You Could Breastfeed Before, You Can Afterwards
The question of whether or not breast implants will impede a patient’s ability to nurse is a common one. Our panel of experts agree that there is not a problem with breast implants and nursing with some caveats. “If you could nurse before, you should be able to nurse after breast augmentation.” says Dr. Laurie Casas of Chicago, IL . But if you’ve never had kids, how do you know if you can nurse? Well, your natural breast tissue can be a pretty good indicator of potential milk production. If you don’t have a lot of glandular tissue to begin with either due to tubular breasts, widely spaced breasts, asymmetric breasts or undeveloped breasts then you’re at a higher risk of not be able to breast feed regardless of whether you have an implant or not.
Other factors to consider are incision and implant placement. It’s rare, but areola incisions can reduce nerve response to the nipple and inhibit milk production. So, if you are planning on having kids, opt for an incision under the breast. And place your implant beneath the muscle. That way the implant won’t be pressing on glandular tissue and potentially impeding your flow of milk.
Surgery Does Produce Scars
Although there is no real interference between a breast implant and the breast tissue, every surgery results in some kind of scarring both internally and externally. Dr. Robert Grant of New York, NY advises his patients who “positively want to nurse” that “they probably should have their children first and think about their implants latter.” Although scarring that would impair a patient’s ability to breastfeed happens rarely, he feels that it is an important part of the consent process for patients to truly understand the risk. “Most of the patients go on to successful nursing no matter what age they had their implants put in.” For Dr. Robert Whitfield of Austin, Texas, it really comes down to age. For patients who are still in their 20’s, “They should probably worry about nursing latter. At that age, they can have their procedure.”
Breast Tissue is the Key
The key for Dr. Casas is does the patient have breast tissue at all? For her pre-pregnancy patients who have zero breast tissue, there’s really no reason to wait. “But my patient who has maybe a beautiful, small B cup breast, that’s the person to counsel. Because there’s breast changes with pregnancy and nursing that will affect the breast size so then the breast implant that was chosen, so carefully, now isn’t he right fit. “
Bottom line: If you still plan on having kids, but want implants then do it. Just consider your risks first.