Breast augmentation is an increasingly common procedure with more than 300,000 women in the United States undergoing it successfully each year. It is considered to be safe for the right candidate. An overwhelming majority of women who undergo this surgery are younger than thirty and have not yet had children before having it done. Understandably, this has left many of these women with questions about breastfeeding.
Breast augmentation can be done in a number of different ways depending on the surgeon’s expertise and the physiology of the patient. The incision can be made under the arm, in the crease of the breast, the belly button, and through the areola. The vast majority of surgeons will use the route through the areola since it is easy to hide the scar, and is the least invasive method of implantation.
The procedure is done in a way that poses the least risk to the woman’s ability to breastfeed an infant later in life. However, many women will naturally have difficulty breastfeeding and breast augmentation can sometimes complicate these problems. Still, breast augmentation by itself does not normally hinder a woman’s ability to breastfeed her child.
Conditions that can interfere with a woman’s ability to breastfeed include; exposure of the breast to radiation, insufficient glandular tissue, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, and scar contracture.
Under normal conditions, the form of breast augmentation which is done via the areola, known as periareolar, does not come with an increased risk of hindering the ability to breastfeed. Neither does it interfere with sensation after the patient’s recovery period is complete. Still, the surgeon cannot know the individual physiology of the breast and will not be able to anticipate any structures within the breast that could interfere until either a radiologist has been consulted or the actual surgery has begun. This means that, like any surgery, there is still a small amount of risk which cannot be fully avoided.
At the end of the day, most women who have had breast augmentation are still able to breastfeed their children. Those whose ability to produce or deliver milk is reduced can supplement with donor milk or formula. For anyone who has had a breast augmentation or wishes to, it will be important to talk with a doctor before breastfeeding. In the vast majority of cases, there will not be a problem. Still, a prenatal care provider should have an opportunity to examine an expecting mother to ensure that any unusual blockages or other problems do not manifest.