Jun 23, 2017

Breast Implants Before & After Baby: Pregnancy & Breast Augmentation

Editorial Voice
Breast Implants Before & After Baby: Pregnancy & Breast Augmentation - ZALEA Article Banner

By Chelsea Campbell

It probably comes as no surprise to hear that breast augmentation ranks as the number one plastic surgery procedure in America, with 290,467 of these surgeries performed in 2016 alone. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, this type of surgery is most popular for women in the 20-39 year old age range, making it of importance for women of childbearing age. Because of this, many women who have had pre or post baby breast augmentation have concerns about how their breasts will be impacted before and/or after pregnancy.

How Does Pregnancy Affect Breast Implants?
Numerous women have gotten breast implants when they were young and when babies were the furthest thing from their minds. However, as they begin to contemplate starting a family, they may worry that their enhanced busts may undergo changes in shape and size while pregnant. It’s true that pregnancy affects breasts in a number of ways, and augmented breasts are no different. Women will experience an increase in fullness during pregnancy, though this is unlikely to have an adverse effect on the implant itself. After pregnancy, hormones change yet again with the breasts becoming engorged for lactation purposes before returning to their pre-pregnancy state.

Implants and Breastfeeding
Fortunately, there is a good chance that you will still be able to successfully breastfeed your baby even if you have had implants. Many women who have had breast augmentation have had success nursing their babies, and there are no known safety issues surrounding the implant that you need to worry about. If you are thinking of going under the knife and know that you will want to breastfeed your babies in the future, you should discuss these plans with your surgeon so that he or she can decide on the most suitable location for the incision. Oftentimes, it is wise to make the incision under the crease of the breast or under the armpit in order to avoid damage to nerves or milk ducts surrounding the areola. Loss of nipple sensation is often a side effect of breast augmentation and may hinder your ability to promote a good latch from your infant. It may also affect the nerve signal to release a letdown of milk. Because of this, it is beneficial to avoid any incisions around the nipple, if possible.

If you do decide to breastfeed and have implants, make sure that you set yourself up for success by taking a breastfeeding class (often offered at maternity units before your baby’s arrival. After baby’s birth, meet with a lactation consultant who can establish that you have your baby positioned correctly on the breast and that your infant can get a good latch. An improper or shallow latch from baby has the ability to cause a drop in your milk supply, so getting your breastfeeding journey off on the right foot is crucial to nursing success. The lactation consultant can also determine if there is difficulty passing milk through the breast, if there are reduced letdown responses due to nerve damage, or if your milk supply is low. This will help ensure that your baby is receiving adequate amounts of milk and can gain the proper amount of weight.

Will My Augmented Breasts Look Different?
The simplest answer is ‘maybe’. All breasts, both augmented and unaugmented, go through many changes in a short amount of time during pregnancy and afterward. Weight gain and hormones during pregnancy cause the breasts to become fuller and heavier. Engorged milk glands after the baby’s birth cause breast tissue to expand and skin to stretch in accommodation. Hormonal fluctuations, changes in milk supply, and eventually weaning can all cause breasts to experience some sagging or change in shape. Most common is upper pole deflation, or a more sloped appearance. However, these changes vary wildly from woman to woman. Some women choose to have a breast lift when they know they are done having babies so as to restore their former shape, size and position . Others prefer to augment prior to their childbearing years. Some argue that augmented breasts are actually more resistant to volume loss and change in shape, as the implant itself remains the same size. You may only notice changes in the appearance of the skin, versus volume of the breast.

Remember that changes in breast appearance are a natural process, so they should always be expected, whether you have had breast implants or not!  Breast augmentation can be a great boost to your self esteem and can have a lasting positive impact on your confidence. If you have previously had breast implants and plan to breastfeed, arm yourself with knowledge and a helpful professional to ensure a comfortable and rewarding experience!

This article appears exclusively on ZALEA.com.

Keywords: breast augmentation, breast implants, breast augmentation and pregnancy, breast implants and pregnancy, breast augmentation and breastfeeding, breast implants and breastfeeding, breastfeeding with implants

Editorial Voice
Alan Gold MD for the Editorial Voice - ZALEA Alan Gold MD

Despite its popularity, many practical questions and misconceptions still remain regarding breast augmentation.   Two issues of common concern, the ability to breast feed and the possible change in the appearance of the augmented breast after pregnancy, are accurately well-covered in the article by Chelsea Campbell. There are, however, just a few points I would like to clarify or emphasize.

There are no known contraindications to breast feeding with either saline or silicone implants. A breast implant is never placed “within” the breast. Regardless of the location of the incision, implants are always placed behind the breast, whether in front of or behind the muscles of the chest. The breast tissue itself and the connection the duct system through the nipple that enables breast feeding need not be violated. If properly placed initially, the implant should not move lower on the chest than the fold beneath the breast, but the breast itself may slide over the implant as a result of possible post-pregnancy natural volume loss and the natural loss of skin elasticity and support after having been stretched by the breast engorgement associated with pregnancy or as a natural result of aging. While it is true in terms of breast size that it is only the natural breast that enlarges and then may involute over the implant, it is the size of the natural breast in relation to the size of the implant that determines how noticeable that volume change may be. In addition to a possible “breast lift” to tighten the skin and reposition the nipple, many women also choose to increase their implant size at the same time to compensate for that loss and restore their pre-pregnancy desired breast volume. As with any elective procedure, be sure to discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon, and carefully consider the risks and benefits of all of your alternatives before deciding how to proceed.

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