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Breast Feeding

Breastfeeding a baby is something many women cherish as a way to connect and bond with their newborn. It provides not only the essential nutrients to the baby, but also passes along the mother's immunities to the child. Many women considering breast augmentation that are still planning on additional children have concerns about their ability to breastfeed after surgery. While it is still possible, there are many factors that can hinder a women's ability to produce milk after breast augmentation.

Lactation Insufficiency

A 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM) study found that breast implant surgery makes it at least three times more likely that a woman trying to breastfeed will have lactation insufficiency or an inadequate milk supply. The group based its conclusion on a number of studies with women who had breast implants or other breast surgery.

In one study the IOM reviewed, conducted by Dr. Marianne Neifert and her University of Colorado School of Medicine colleagues, women who had breast surgery were three times more likely to have lactation insufficiency than those that did not have breast surgery. Doctors compared the rate of weight gain of breastfed infants born to mothers who had previous breast surgery and mothers who did not, and mothers whose babies did not gain at least once ounce per day, or who required supplemental feedings with formula, were deemed to have lactation insufficiency.

Incision Location

There are four main choices for incision location for breast implant surgery, including pariareolar incision, which is made in the nipple area. The researchers found the women who had breast surgery through a pariareolar incision had even higher rates of problems then those with other types of incisions. Those women were five times more likely, when compared to women without breast surgery, to have insufficient milk.

Nancy Hurst, from Texas Children's Hospital, found that 64 percent of women with breast implants had lactation insufficiency compared to just 7 percent of women without implants. Most of the problems with lactation insufficiency among breast implant patients were because the pariareolar incision was used, though other incisions made it significantly more difficult for women to breastfeed.

Dr. Sara Strom and others at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center looked at nursing rates among 46 new mothers who had previously received saline-filled breast implants. Of these women, 28 chose to breastfeed their baby, but 11 had problems breastfeeding. Eight of the 11 women who had problems breastfeeding the researchers attributed to the breast implants, seven of which received their implants through a pariareolar incision. While the study did not have a control group of non-implanted women, the study had consistent results with other studies showing women with breast implants have a higher rate of problems breastfeeding.

Choosing To Breastfeed After Surgery

Strom's study also discovered that having breast implants in general could discourage women from breastfeeding. When the researchers asked the women why they didn't attempt to breastfeed their babies, implanted women who chose not to breastfeed said they feared lactation insufficiency and other complications because of their implants.

Regardless of breast implants or not, the decision to breastfeed or to bottle-feed is a personal one that can be based on many different factors. Many people can successfully breastfeed after having breast implants, but this is something that cannot be determined beforehand with 100% accuracy. Even without having breast implants, not all women are able to breastfeed, and there are no guaranteed results with anything.

Contact A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Near You

Women with breast implants or women who are considering getting them and are concerned about breastfeeding should talk to their individual doctors. Please contact us to speak with a qualified plastic surgeon who can discuss your individual needs to determine the best surgery options for you.