Breastfeeding and Breast Implants
By Barbara Wilson-Clay, BS, IBCLC
While any form of breast surgery carries some risk of damage to milk ducts and nerves, many women with breast implants experience happy and successful breastfeeding.
Some parents worry that implants affect the quality of the milk. Current research considers breastfeeding to be safe even if a leak in the implant packet occurs.
The location of the implant incision may affect breastfeeding. Implants inserted under the fold of the breast or under the arm are least likely to damage important nerves and milk ducts. Implants inserted at the edge of the areola may affect nipple sensation, reducing both milk release and milk supply. Scar tissue from implant surgery may occasionally block milk ducts. Breast drainage may be affected, especially during periods of unusual breast fullness. Women with implants sometimes need extra help during the engorgement phase, and may be more prone to mastitis (breast infection).
Some women get implants because one or both breasts failed to develop normally. Without adequate glandular tissue, full milk production may not be possible. In such cases, it is not the implants causing the problem, but rather the lack of glandular tissue.
Women with milk supply problems should tell the baby’s doctor that they have had breast surgery. Their babies need closer follow-up to make sure growth and weight gain are normal. A lactation consultant can be a valuable resource to the woman who has experienced breast surgery.
Neifert M, Seacat J, Jobe W. Lactation failure due to insufficient glandular development of the breast. Pediatrics 1985; 76(5):823-827.