The quick answer is – yes, probably.
While it is impossible to know for sure whether you will be able to breast feed after having breast augmentation, if you are able to feed before surgery you will likely be able to feed after surgery. However, you will breast feed at your pre-operative cup size rather than your post-operative cup size. (Example: if you are an A cup before surgery and a C cup after, your milk will be produced as if you are still an A cup.)
Breast implant type (saline or silicone gel) has no effect on the ability to breastfeed and neither substance from the breast implant is transmitted into the breast milk. Therefore, implants are considered very safe in the setting of desired breastfeeding.
The production of breast milk is greatly affected by the nerves and milk ducts of the breast. The nerves in the breast send signals to the brain, triggering the release of chemicals that start milk production. If the milk ducts or breast nerves are damaged or severed during a lift or augmentation, the ability to breastfeed can be reduced or made impossible. For this reason, I choose incisions and techniques that reduce the chances of those vital nerves and ducts being damaged.
The type of incision used is very important in determining your ability to feed after surgery. The periareolar incision (or around the nipple) has greater likelihood of severing milk ducts and nerves than does the inframammary fold incision (underneath the breast).
The type of plastic surgery performed (breast augmentation alone or breast lift with augmentation) and the technique used can also make a difference. My preferred breast lift and breast augmentation techniques are designed to keep as much nerve sensation and breast tissue intact as possible, making the likelihood of feeding after surgery very high. Breast augmentation through an inframammary fold incision, my favored approach, maintains the integrity of the nipple-areolar complex and, therefore, should have little to no effect on the ability to breastfeed.
Breast Lift surgery “rearranges” some of the breast tissue during surgery and repositions the nipple. A small percentage of patients may lose some or all nipple sensation after surgery. However, most patients do not. The superomedial pedicle mastopexy or anchor scar technique maintains a significant portion of the blood flow and nerve endings to the nipples and preserves many of the milk ducts. Insertion of an implant using the inframammary incision also increases the chances of being able to breastfeed after surgery by preserving much of the nerve sensation to the nipples and milk ducts.
Many women are naturally not able to breast feed, regardless of implants or not. So, if you are unsuccessful in your attempts to breast feed, don’t beat yourself up over that. Years ago, breast feeding was very much NOT in fashion and women would bind their breasts up to cause them to shrink faster. Their children did fine and mothers were able to feel just as close to them. I like to joke with my patients that I didn’t breast feed any of my four children and I was able to bond with them just fine.
The decision to have breast implants is very personal one. Many factors come into play during this decision. I hope this article has added to your education about breast feeding with implants. Oftentimes, a breast lift or breast augmentation can be part of a package of surgeries called a Mommy Makeover. This is a series of surgeries customized to an individual’s goals and desires to help a mom restore her body after childbirth. If you’d like to explore your readiness for your own Mommy Makeover, I invite you to visit www.drmichaelburgdorf.com to take our Mommy Makeover Assessment or to www.musiccityplasticsurgery.com to explore this and other plastic surgery topics.