One of the most common questions asked by women who have or are planning to have breast augmentation is if they can still breastfeed. The answer to this question is yes; most women can breastfeed their infants after breast augmentation. There are some cases where nursing is a problem, and it all depends on many factors.
Let’s start with understanding what breast augmentation is in the first place, and why it can or can’t interfere with your ability to nurse.
What is Breast Augmentation?
Breast augmentation is known as a boob job in slang terms, or medically as augmentation mammoplasty. It is a surgical procedure where implants are placed inside the breasts to increase the size, change the shape or fullness of a woman’s bust. There are several reasons why one would have the procedure done, and these reasons may be:
- to enlarge the size of the breasts
- to create symmetry to asymmetrical breasts
- to restore the breasts after surgery for breast cancer
- to restore the shape and improve the size of the breasts after changes due to pregnancy, nursing, or weight loss
The psychological benefits of breast augmentation include improved self-esteem and confidence, as women feel more assured and confident of their sexuality and femininity once they have better-looking boobs.
What are Breast Implants?
A breast implant is a medical prosthesis used by surgeons to enlarge or correct the shape of women’s breasts. There are three types of implants: silicone, saline, and other materials. Most of these implants have a silicone outer layer, and they last for at least 10 years.
3 Types of Breast Implants
- Saline Implants
These are made of an outer layer of silicone and filled with saline solution. In cases of leakage, the saline solution is absorbed by the body and expelled naturally.
- Silicone Implants
These implants had a silicone outer layer and filled with viscous silicone gel. In cases of leaks, the silicone gel either stays inside the silicone shell or escape through the pocket. For women who have silicone implants, regular checks with your doctor may be more recommended compared to those who have saline implants.
- Other Materials
Silicone shells that are not filled with saline or silicone gel can contain soy oil, polypropylene string, or other materials.
The Different Incision Options
There are three different incision options for breast implants, and these are:
- Inframammary Incision – the surgeon cuts on the crease under the breast.
- Transaxillary Incision – the surgeon cuts in the armpit.
- Periareolar Incision – the surgeon cuts around the nipple.
Choosing the incision options depends on several factors, which include: the size of the implants, the patient’s body, as well as the preference of the patient and the doctor.
How Breast Augmentation Can Affect Your Breastfeeding Ability
Two factors determine whether or not you’ll have problems with your breastfeeding ability. Although most approaches are compatible with breastfeeding, there are instances that breast surgery can impede your ability to nurse.
These two factors are:
- The type of incision.
- The area where your implants are placed.
For incisions made on the crease under the breast and in the armpit, the probability of encountering breastfeeding problems are slim. For incisions made on the areola, however, risks of damaging milk ducts and glands do increase, which will make it harder for you to produce milk.
Incisions on the areola can affect the sensitivity of your nipples and can reduce your let-down response – which occurs when your infant latches on your nipple and milk are then released from the glands to the milk ducts.
When implants are placed on top of your chest muscles, the risk of the milk duct and gland damage can also increase, which will reduce your ability to produce milk.
When is the Best Time to Have Breast Augmentation? Before or After Pregnancy?
The answer is not so simple. If you are planning on getting pregnant shortly, then it’s best that you have the surgery until after you give birth – precisely 3 to 6 months after you stop breastfeeding. This will give your breasts enough time to settle into their shape once you stop lactating. In such case, breast augmentation can help to add volume to sagging breasts or restore them to their size and shape before pregnancy.
If you are not planning to get pregnant soon but do have plans in the future, then having the surgery before pregnancy would be a good option to prevent potential problems such as exaggerated bloating and mastitis, which include symptoms such as chills, pain, and fever.