Breastfeed with breast implants? Yes, you can
So you want to breastfeed your baby but are afraid that your breast implants will make it difficult or impossible? Or are you thinking of having a breast lift but worry that the implants may make it hard for you to breastfeed when you become a mom?
Worry no more as the verdict is out: Medical and health experts say most women with breast implants can breastfeed without harming themselves or their babies.
“The overwhelming majority of women who have breast implants can breastfeed whether they’re using silicone or saline implants,” Dr. Stephen Greenberg, a board certified plastic surgeon, told ABC News in 2009.
That year, Dr. Greenberg performed 15 breast augmentations a week, reflecting the steadily increasing demand among women for the surgery to make their breasts look larger and fuller.
Since silicone breast implants were first introduced in the United States in the 1960s, breast lifts have steadily gained popularity, and in 2001, surgeons performed 296,203 breast lifts, according to the National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Procedural Statistics. Breast augmentations continue to rank as the No. 1 cosmetic surgery in 2011, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said.
But many women worry that having a breast lift will keep them from experiencing one of the joys of motherhood.
In breast augmentation, a surgery is done to place implants or breast prosthesis in each of a woman’s breasts. The implants are small bags filled with saline or salt water or silicone gel.
Silicone gel-filled breast implants have a silicone outer shell that is filled with silicone gel while saline-filled breast implants contain a silicone outer shell filled with a sterile saltwater solution.
Reports in the 1990s of silicone leaking from implants into the body, causing autoimmune and connective tissue disorders, triggered a flurry of lawsuits and prompted the United States Food and Drug Administration to ban silicone implants in 1992. These also created lasting myths about the dangers of these implants.
Silicone gel won’t leak, not toxic
One common fear is that the implants would leak and contaminate the breast milk.
But the implants involved in reports of leaking were nearly prototypes, and today’s implants have since been reformulated and tested, Dr. Greenberg said
Greenberg said that implants are now made out of memory gel or cohesive gel that doesn’t leak and sticks together instead.
In 2006, after numerous studies cleared it as a cause of disease, the FDA approved the use of silicone gel implants for breast augmentation. The agency had approved the use of saline-filled breast implants earlier, in 2002.
Both types of implants do not present a risk of leaking, Dr. Greenberg said, but silicone implants, because they appear to be more natural, make up 80 percent of his surgeries.
“People are concerned that their kids will be drinking silicone,” said Dr. Greenberg, “But there are no worries whatsoever about leaking free silicone and having the child exposed.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in the 1990s, there were exactly 11 reports of babies suffering esophageal ailments linked to breastfeeding from mothers with silicone implants. But since then, there have been no new reports of similar cases. That AAP is an organization of 60,000 pediatricians.
For over 40 years, the AAP’s Committee on Drugs has monitored the effects of silicone breast implants on breastfeeding, along with the effects of smoking, taking psychotropic drugs like marijuana and heroin and being on drug therapy with common medications. It released its first report, The Transfer of Drugs and Other Chemicals Into Human Milk, in 1983, and updated this in 1989, 1994 and 2001.