How will Breast Augmentation Affect my ability to breastfeed?
This is a frequent question I’m asked by San Diego area patients who see me for breast implant surgery. That’s probably because most breast augmentations are performed in women who are in their childbearing years, many of whom haven’t yet become mothers.
An excellent review article in the International Breastfeeding Journal in 2014 provides guidance for patients considering breast augmentation surgery. This article reviews the available scientific literature on this subject, and it becomes clear that this question hasn’t been fully answered. In fact, a search of the current scientific literature demonstrates how little has been studied regarding the impact of breast augmentation on breastfeeding outcomes.
There is a general lack in the quality and strength of evidence to inform women considering cosmetic breast implants about the potential impact on successful breastfeeding. Although women with breast augmentation were found to be as likely to attempt breastfeeding as women without breast augmentation, women with breast augmentation were 40% less likely to exclusively feed their infants with breast milk than women who had not undergone breast augmentation. However, this finding is based on a single study and the second of only three, with none of the included studies considered to be of high quality.
Reduced likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding may be attributed directly or indirectly to: the augmentation surgery or the inserted breast implants, an underlying condition (breast hypoplasia), or different attitudes and expectations among women who have breast augmentation surgery.
So the bottom line for patients considering breast augmentation surgery is that exclusive breastfeeding after surgery is a real possibility but may be diminished according to available data. Several factors may contribute to this problem that do not include breast augmentation surgery. Further large scale studies are needed to accurately predict the effects of breast augmentation on lactation and breastfeeding.
There are measures to reduce the risk of affecting breastfeeding. If you expect to be breastfeeding after your breast augmentation, I recommend the inframammary incision as opposed to the periareolar incision. The inframammary incision technique is made under the breast, while the periareolar incision is made around the nipple, which is more likely to affect nipple sensitivity and breastfeeding.
If you would like to learn more about the procedure or have any concerns you’d like to discuss, contact us to request a consultation with Dr. Chaffoo.