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Summary: Children can change your plans. Especially when they arrive unannounced. Or, let’s put that another way: it can be difficult to plan for children. So that’s why women who undergo a breast augmentation in Ridgewood, New Jersey, or in Los Angeles, California, or where ever can sometimes find their ability to breastfeed thrown into question. New research sheds light on this, and while most women retain the ability for breast feeding with breast implants, not all of them do.

How common is breast feeding with breast implants in place?

When to Have Children?

There’s no schedule for having children. It can be an unpredictable and chaotic, despite your best efforts to maintain some control over the process (in other words, birth control is never 100% effective). For most women, their health—especially as they age—is a constant concern when one gets pregnant or has children. For women who have had breast augmentation procedures, this is also true—maybe more so. This is because breast augmentation can have an effect on how easy it is to breast feed after childbirth.

Now, there’s no set rule for whether you should be able to breastfeed your children after a breast augmentation. In fact, most breast augmentation procedures are performed in such a way as to maximize the potential for maintaining the ability to lactate after having children. To put that another way, most women who undergo breast augmentation procedures maintain the ability to lactate and breastfeed. And yet, according to a new study published in Medical Journal of Australia, up to one-fifth of all women who have undergone an augmentation do not breastfeed their children.

Women Not Breast Feeding with Breast Implants

Now, it should be noted that some of these women in the study were able to express milk, but chose not to. And while the study did not produce any concrete reasons as to why, it did offer some possible explanations. First, some mothers may have feared that they would transmit silicone or other artificial (and, in their minds, harmful) components from the implant to the child. However, every study that’s looked at breastfeeding with implants found no evidence of such transference of material. In other words, the milk expressed by mothers with breast implants is perfectly safe, and, therefore, breast feeding with breast implants is safe.

The other possible reason the study gave for a new mother being unwilling to express breast milk might be that surgeons are warning them that breastfeeding could damage their finished augmentation results. This seems to make a certain amount of sense, as breastfeeding does put downward pressure on the breast, so it seems reasonable that breastfeeding could alter otherwise satisfactory results from a breast augmentation. It doesn’t strike us as unreasonable that a woman would want to protect that investment, especially if there is a viable alternative in the form of formula. After all, breast augmentation procedures can be very expensive and they aren’t always covered by insurance. They’re an investment, most certainly.

Surgeons Recommendations

Most plastic surgeons, then, will recommend that women finish having children before they undergo breast augmentation surgery. However, there are usually two simple problems with that. On the one hand, as we mentioned, pregnancy can sneak up on you despite your best efforts to guard against it. And when that happens, pregnancy can be doubly stressful and doubly difficult to predict. The second problem is that, unlike many other plastic surgery procedures, breast augmentation appeals largely to a younger audience.

In other words, there are many 19 and 20 year old patients who are interested in getting a breast augmentation procedure. That’s not an age group that’s common to tummy tuck, for example (another procedure for which pregnancy can be a complication). And young patients, while they might be quite certain about how they want their bodies to look, might not be quite so certain about whether they’re going to have children in the future. And, frankly, something like a breast augmentation should not be held to that kind of ridiculously high standard. Especially when, four times out of five, women are able and willing to breast feed several years down the road.

It’s up to the Patients

Additionally, breast feeding with breast implants is something that is important to patients—maintaining that ability for years down the road. Most plastic surgeons, therefore, are usually quite careful to do everything possible to maintain those biological functions. Indeed, breast augmentation procedures are designed to generally be as unobtrusive (except in the obvious way) as possible. The procedure isn’t supposed to change your body in any way other than creating larger breasts. Of course, sometimes there are unforeseen complications, and losing the ability to lactate is not unheard of.

What it boils down to is basically this. If you’re thinking about having children in the future (or you’re at least open to having children in the future) and the ability to breastfeed is important to you, talk to your plastic surgeon about all of your options and about the best way to proceed given your concerns. Your plastic surgeon will nearly always be able to give you straight answers. That said, if you’re looking into a breast augmentation, you can get started today and be confident in your ability to handle the future.

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