The relationship between breastfeeding and breast implants is potentially one of the most questioned aspects of breast augmentation for young patients. Many would-be patients may even consider the question a major deciding factor as to whether or not they go forward with implants. Even for patients who already have implants, the question may be one they’re scared to ask, and they might even consider having implants removed, “just to be safe.”
Two breast augmentation experts, board certified plastic surgeons Dr. Kevin Smith of North Carolina and Dr. Brian Brzowski of Utah, discuss the oft-spoken of topic, helping patients understand how breastfeeding and breast implants go together.
Simple Question: Can You Have Breast Implants and Breastfeed?
“Of course!” says Dr. Brzowski. There is no major impact on breastfeeding by having breasts implants. There is a very, very important ancillary point that ALL women need to understand: some women cannot and/or struggle with breastfeeding naturally, regardless of breast augmentation. “I think the biggest thing women need to know is there’s an unpredictable ability to breast feed in most every woman – even those who haven’t had breast implants,” continues Brzowski. “For us to be able to predict whether a patient is going to be able to breastfeed after implants, we really don’t know that for sure. I think the risk of it being affected is very low.”
Dr. Smith agrees: the results from hundreds of thousands of breast augmentation procedures and the resultant histories of patients show no cause for concern regarding breast implants and breastfeeding. Beyond potential disruptions caused by the surgery and the placement of implants, there is also nothing within or about the implants themselves that offer harm to infants.
“I think the bottom line in all cases, as Brian said, we can’t guarantee that a woman could breastfeed before surgery,” says Smith. “And after surgery, I’d tell my patients that there chance is maybe 1 or 2% lower that they will not be able to breastfeed. And, there’s nothing in that implant that’s going to hurt the baby.”
A Tough Call – Breast Augmentation Now? or Wait Until After Pregnancies?
The decision as to when a woman should have her breast augmentation can be immense. Women in their early to mid 20’s may be extremely interested in the idea of implants, but as the idea because more and more real, other questions began to crop up.
- Will I have children? When?
- How many children will I have?
- Will my breasts change shape after 1 pregnancy?
- What if I have multiple?
- Will I need a lift afterwards if I get an augmentation now?
The answers to these questions do not exactly lead to a firm answer; it will ultimately be a choice for the patient. In simple terms, does a patient want to undergo an augmentation now, enjoy the enhancement for all of the years leading to her final pregnancy, then see what needs to be done to correct it? Or would she rather just wait until then?
“I think if women are unsure whether they want to proceed, I suggest that they not,” explains Dr. Smith. “There’s always time for this. Whenever a woman is contemplating having children, having had children, maybe having more – it’s always best to go through that stretch/shrink cycle for as many kids as she wants to have. Then, we do a breast augmentation or a lift. I think the results are much more predictable that way.”
For patients, predictable means that the possible goals communicated from the surgeon during consultation will more readily be met. Voluminous data on breast augmentation procedures show how they should end up and age, assuming no major unpredictable variables occur – multiple pregnancies being a major one. Waiting until they’re over means a board certified plastic surgeon can more accurately define what a patient’s results will be, as well as precisely estimating how they will age.
Ultimately, pregnancy is a beautiful and wild ride for mothers; for some, it’s not so bad and for others, very trying. Likewise, some women go through multiple pregnancies and a masterful expression of genes keeps her body taut, tight, and shapely, while for many others the opposite can take place. The bottom-line is breastfeeding is virtually unaffected by breast implants, only incurring maybe a percentage point or two of risk. When it comes to an earlier question – whether or not a patient should have an augmentation pre-pregnancies – the answer is ultimately up to the patient. One thing surgeons can significantly predict, however, are great, lasting results if procedures are performed when pregnancies have been completed.