Breast augmentation surgery is one of the top five most common cosmetic surgeries, with hundreds of thousands U.S. people undergoing the procedure each year. If you are one of the many new parents who has breast implants and are considering breast or chestfeeding, you may have some questions or concerns. Perhaps you want to know whether breastfeeding is safe with implants, or whether your implants may affect your milk supply. You may also want to know what you can do to maximize your chances of success.
These concerns are totally understandable. We reached out to two lactation consultants and a breastfeeding medicine physician to answer some common questions about breastfeeding with implants.
Let's start with the good news. Yes, you can breastfeed if you have implants, and the vast majority of parents who do so are successful. Several studies have found that people with breast implants can have positive experiences.
For example, a 2016 study compared breastfeeding parents who had implants with breastfeeding parents who did not have implants. The study found that the parents with implants were able to establish breastfeeding 93% of the time. This was slightly lower than parents without implants, who successfully established breastfeeding 99% of the time. Still, the study showed that the vast majority of parents with implants had success.
Another study, from 2019, only looked at breastfeeding parents with implants. The researchers found that overall, parents with implants were able to breastfeed successfully 75% of the time. The bottom line is that, for parents with breast implants, it is entirely possible and probable to have a successful and fulfilling breastfeeding journey.
While many parents with implants are able to breastfeed successfully, there are some considerations to keep in mind with regard to breast milk supply.
"The main risk associated with implants is experiencing a low breast milk supply," says Jessica Madden, M.D., I.B.C.L.C., pediatrician, neonatologist, lactation consultant, and the medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps. "This is because the surgical procedures for implants can cause breast tissue scarring, disruption of the milk ducts, and/or can damage nerves that are involved in milk let-down."
Remember that most parents with breast implants do not have problems breast or chestfeeding, but milk supply issues are something to consider as you move through your journey. That said, remember that you can still have an empowering nursing experience even if you don't have a full supply.