Breast augmentation is a big decision for the average woman. Often, she has put a lot of thought into it, and it has a big influence on how she sees herself. Some women get implants in their late teens and early twenties because their natural development isn’t quite what they want it to be. Other women get implants to restore the fullness they lost after raising a few babies.
If you’re in the latter group, it’s unlikely that you’ll be worried about breastfeeding, but if you’re one of the younger patients, it’s something that may cross your mind. In all likelihood, having babies is the last thing on your mind when you’re making the decision to go a few sizes bigger. But just in case you’re thinking about it, here are a few tips.
Most mothers experience breastfeeding challenges, whether or not they’ve had work done on their breasts. Common difficulties include swollen breasts, cracked nipples, delayed let-down, engorgement, and general anxiety. Mothers also have a bit of a learning curve on getting their babies to latch right.
How is any of this related to breast implants? Well, part of breastfeeding is having nipples that are sensitive enough to respond to your baby’s touch. In some types of breast augmentation, your nipples become less responsive. If you have less feeling in your nipples after your surgery, it might be harder to signal your mammary glands to release milk. The build-up of milk will then lead to painful engorgement, which makes breastfeeding even more difficult.
Another factor is the type of incision that your doctor used when he or she was inserting the implants. If the saline or silicone was slipped in through your armpit, then there should be no problem. Incisions made in the fold of the breast or the ‘underboob’ are fine as well, because they do not directly interfere with your nipples. If your incision was made around the edge of your areola, then it’s likely that your nipple was affected, so while it’s not a given, it’s more likely that you will have some challenges in breastfeeding.
The main breastfeeding issue with implants is that your enlarged breasts might not have enough milk to feed your baby. Since babies often feed directly from the breast, it can be hard to tell exactly how much milk they’re drinking. When you express milk and bottle feed, then you can measure your output, but otherwise, it’s just a guessing game of how heavy your breasts feel versus how full your baby seems.
A more accurate test of how much milk your baby is getting to need is to check his or her weight. If your baby is steadily getting bigger, then your supply is fine. If not, you might need to top up their diet with formula. Don’t try to judge your baby’s weight for yourself, and you definitely don’t want to ask ‘well-meaning’ friends and relatives who might just be judgy. Instead, ask your doctor if your baby’s weight is in a healthy range.
Either way, let your doctor know that you’ve had implants and share your concerns. They will advise you on what you need to do – or not do. And if you’re a young woman considering implants, come have a chat with us, or call us on 02 9516 4110. We’ll be glad to answer all your questions.
Dr Joseph Rizk became Australasia’s plastic surgeon of the year by making sure that each patient is heard, respected, and treated well. His patient-first approach provides you with the accurate medical information you need to make informed decisions about your course of treatment. At the same time, he offers his decades of knowledge and experience to help you along your path.