Breastfeeding and Breast Surgery

Are you thinking about having Breast Surgery, but you’re concerned about breastfeeding in the future? You’re not alone. One of the main concerns amongst women considering surgery is whether undergoing Breast Surgery will effect their ability to breastfeed and will their breasts change after pregnancy.

There are numerous factors that can have an impact on breastfeeding, such as the type of Breast Surgery, the incision site and your general breast anatomy. It is important to note that many women with or without breast implants, can have complications when it comes to Breastfeeding and producing milk.

Breastfeeding with implants

In most cases, women who have undergone a Standard Breast Augmentation continue on to breastfeed without any complications. However, breastfeeding after surgery cannot be guaranteed. The small percentage of women who have come across complications with Breastfeeding can be related to the incision site of the implant, the type of breast surgery they undergo and the skills of the surgeon performing the procedure. A Periareolar (nipple) incision can compromise the ability to breastfeed, as this is where the nerves and milk ducts are located which could be damaged or severed during surgery. Having Breast implants whilst breastfeeding can also pinch milk ducts causing a small block in the flow of breast milk which can limit the amount of milk coming through, and may cause your breasts to swell.

Which incision site?

There are 3 common sites around the breasts in which our surgeons prefer to insert Breast Implants. They are: Under the breast crease (inframammary) – The incision is made just under the breast fold. This is the most commonly used site as the surgeon has a clearer view when placing the implant and the scar is easily hidden under the breast. Armpit (Transaxillary) incision – The incision is made in the crease of the armpit. And Nipple (Periareolar) incision – The implant incision is around the underside of the areola where it meets the edge of the breast skin. Although Nipple incisions can leave minimal scarring, this type of incision has increased risks of infection and can be the most dangerous in terms of damaging milk ducts, which can leave complications when breastfeeding.

incision-sites-ba

If breastfeeding is of utmost importance to you, we do not recommend Nipple (Periareolar) incision. In order to minimise complications with breastfeeding you should opt for armpit incision or under the breast crease incision (most common). Be sure to discuss this with a qualified Plastic Surgeon so that they can adjust their surgical technique to minimise any risks that may affect your ability to breastfeed.

Breast Reduction and Breast Lift Surgery

Breast Reduction surgery involves surgically removing fat, glandular tissue and skin to make breasts smaller, lighter, better shaped, and proportionate to the rest of the body. As this procedure can incorporate repositioning or resizing the areola and/or nipple, or correcting the position of the nipple, we advise patients to undergo this procedure post pregnancy as there is very high chance of incurring complications when breastfeeding.

A Breast Lift procedure raises and firms sagging breasts by removing excess skin and tissue, and tightening the surrounding tissue – before implants are inserted to restore firmness and overall size and shape. It is a possibility for women who have had a Breast Lift or in combination with Augmentation to breastfeed after pregnancy, depending on the lift technique used. However, the chances are minimal as some milk ducts will be severed from a breast lift.

Breast Surgery AFTER breastfeeding

A common reason women undergo Breast Augmentation surgery is due to pregnancy and breastfeeding. We completely understand that some women long to have their pre-pregnancy breasts back once they have completed having children. Pregnancy takes a huge strain on your body, especially your breasts. If you’re considering winding back the clock to when your breasts were as perky as ever, there are a few things you need to know.

Firstly, you won’t be able to have this procedure done right away. Our Hospitals and Clinics have different policies about Breast surgery after pregnancy. They recommend waiting upto 6- 12 months after breastfeeding until your milk dries up before you undergo surgery as there needs to be a recovery period after pregnancy so the body has time to stabilize and decrease chances of infection due to breast milk still being present and infecting the incision/breast.

Secondly, it is highly common that sagging may occur to your breasts after breastfeeding. The severity will depend on the amount of breast tissue you have. In most cases, post pregnancy may require a Breast Augmentation + Lift procedure. 

Mothers who undergo Breast Surgery after pregnancy need to be aware that they will require assistance with their little ones in their recovery period, as you will not be able to pick up your child for several weeks after surgery.

Breast Surgery BEFORE Pregnancy/Breastfeeding

If you are planning on becoming pregnant after you have had breast surgery, it is important to be patient and ensure you’ve had adequate healing time before pregnancy. Some surgeries take longer to recover from than others. Make sure you speak to your surgeon about how long it will take to fully heal. It is recommended that if you are planning on having children in the future, you wait at least 6-12 months after your surgery to ensure your breasts are healing without complications.

However, it is important to understand that everyone is different and there is no standard recovery time for each patient. It is best to let your breasts heal based on how you feel not based on other women’s recovery time. 

What happens to your breast implants after breastfeeding?

There will be changes to your breasts during pregnancy, post natal and post breastfeeding, which will change the way your natural breasts will look. The majority of our patients have Breast Augmentation long before planning children. Regardless of whether you have been pregnant prior to your breast augmentation, much will depend on how much breast tissue you have. The more breast tissue you have, the more likely some sagging of will occur, this is unrelated to having breast implants.

Predicting the impact that pregnancy can have on your ability to breastfeed and your breast implants is difficult as every individual is different. If maintaining the look of your implants and the ability to breastfeed is of utmost importance to you, it is advised to postpone your surgery until you are done having children and then revisit the option of breast surgery.

The following changes to your breasts may occur when you become pregnant with breast implants:

  • Breasts may feel swollen
  • Breasts will enlarge
  • Veins may become more visible
  • Nipples may change colour
  • There may be a slight tenderness of your breasts
  • Nipples may become more sensitive

Making the decision to undergo plastic surgery requires extensive research to ensure your decision is well thought through, and you are thoroughly informed about the process. Many women find it highly educational to join Plastic Surgery Forums such Real Self forum, Plastic Surgery Forum, or if you are going through CosMediTour, we have our own private Facebook forum. You can discuss any questions or concerns you may have and also share your experience with like-minded people.

Further Reading:

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Written by Katrina Tilbrook

Marketing Manager at CosMediTour |CosMediTour is an international cosmetic surgery company and medical tourism facilitator, with offices on the Gold Coast in Australia, Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand and Cape Town, South Africa.

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