A research study has concluded that there is no scientific evidence to show that breast implants interfere with the process of lactation or breastfeeding. The results of the study, which was conducted by Dr Mark Jewell, a plastic surgeon in the US, were presented at the recent International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery conference.
This issue has been much debated for a number of years, and the general consensus to date has been that most mothers who have had breast augmentation can breastfeed, at least to some extent. There is however evidence which suggests that the amount of milk produced by some women with breast implants is reduced. Reduction in milk production may also occur if the implants are inserted into the periareolar area, as this technique tends to cut the milk ducts.
Dr Jewell reviewed the lactation outcomes of approximately 6,000 women who had breast implants and attempted to breastfeed. The data was compared to patients’ baseline history of pregnancies and lactation before and after breast augmentation, along with data from women who had never undergone breast augmentation. The data was collated over five years and indicated that women with either inframammary or periareolar incisions for augmentation can breastfeed normally. There was no greater incidence of lactation-related issues for these women when compared to those who do not have breast implants.
Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP specialising in cosmetic surgery claims, said: “The ability to breastfeed after breast augmentation is a common concern for those contemplating surgery. This recent study confirms that the outcome generally depends on the placement of the implants and the way the surgery was carried out. An incision made around or across the areola (dark circle around the nipple) can damage the nerves. Incisions may instead be made under the breast, in the armpit, or in the belly button. These types of incisions are less likely to damage milk ducts, glands, or nerves.
"Evidence suggests that the area where implants are placed may also affect the ability to breastfeed. Implants can be placed in between the breast tissue and chest muscle or they can be placed under the chest muscle to prevent damage to milk ducts and nerves. If the surgery goes to plan, breast augmentation does not usually interfere with breastfeeding and there is no evidence that any silicone is found in breast milk. My advice is that breastfeeding should be discussed with your surgeon fully before any breast surgery. This way the surgeon can adjust their surgical technique to help maintain your ability to breastfeed.”