Breast implants are surgically implanted breast prosthetics used to enhance the size and shape of a woman’s breasts. The different materials used for breast implants improve the overall texture and look of the breasts and, with it, the woman’s self-esteem. It was first used in the 1960s for prosthetic repairs, followed by the removal of breast tumours. But now, breast implants are among the top five most sought-after plastic surgery procedures. Usually, the implants are inserted through breast augmentation into the body.
When are breast implants required?
Breast implants are usually required by women unhappy with their breast size or those who wish to increase their size for aesthetic reasons. Also called primary augmentation, females generally utilise it with typically small breasts or by those with breasts of average size who want to enlarge them. Apart from cosmetic reasons, breast implants are also used for women who have undergone mammoplasty procedures to remove either or both breasts as part of chemotherapy treatment or chemoprophylaxis.
They are also valuable for women with uneven breast size or breasts damaged through burns, trauma or accident. Expert breast augmentation is also often the choice treatment for women with a history of botched breast surgery for revision or reconstruction purposes.
Types of breast implants
Breast implants come in different types but are primarily classified based on their shape, size, and texture. Based on their shape, implants can be round or tear-drop-shaped. Round implants are indicated for fuller breasts with a prominent cleavage, whereas anatomical implants are indicated for slightly downward-sagging breasts. Implants may also be either smooth or textured.
While smooth ones are indicated for naturally larger-looking breasts, textured implants are suited for breasts with scar tissues. Implants can even be classified into saline and silicone based on their composition. All of these implants are FDA-approved and safe for women above 21 years old.
Effect of pregnancy on breasts
Pregnancy can lead to massive changes in the breast tissue, potentially causing them to expand and contract. The increase in the size of the lactating glands is caused due to multiple factors, including weight gain. However, a significant change occurs post-pregnancy.
The milk flow stretches the breast tissue while the mammary glands return to their original size, giving the skin a stretched-out impression. Also, unequal milk production in either of the breasts leads to unequal breast size. While the sagging breasts extend up to the armpits, in some cases, one returns to the original size while the other stays in the sagging condition. All of these factors lead to an unusual appearance of breasts with an asymmetric look. While it may not be an issue for some, it can affect self-esteem and confidence for many women. In this regard, breast implants can help rectify many of these issues.
Can you breastfeed with breast implants?
Whether you can breastfeed if you have breast implants or not could be your most minor concern if you know how it works. Breast augmentation is increasing the size of the breasts either through fat transplant or by implantation techniques. There are different methods of placing the implants over the chest. They can be inserted from under the armpits, from the navel region, underneath the breasts, or the outer edge of the areola.
In either case, as long as they are placed under the chest muscles, they don’t interfere with the breast ducts or the mammary glands responsible for milk production. Additionally, the residual breast tissue left after augmentation is sufficient for milk production and does not impact breast milk production. But they do affect the quality and quantity of breastfeeding to some extent.
Factors in augmentation affecting breast milk production
The location and depth of the incision during augmentation play an important role in breast milk production. As stated earlier, implants are placed through the areola, armpits, breasts or navel region. The areola is the dark-coloured portion of skin around the nipples. Its function is to lubricate the nipples and protect them from chafing during breastfeeding.
Implantation through the areola leads to scarring of the areolar area, which may indirectly affect breastfeeding. Opting for an implantation technique from any other place apart from the areola keeps it intact, thus ceasing to hinder breastfeeding. The second problem associated with an areolar incision is the risk of damage to the nerves and the ducts in the region.
It is known that the sensation of the baby suckling on the breasts increases milk production from inside the mother. This is because of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin released by the milk glands during the suckling sensation. Prolactin is responsible for increasing milk production. Nerve damage caused by augmentation techniques can impact these hormones. This can impact overall production.
These issues can be effectively dealt with by opting for an underarm or navel augmentation technique for implantation. Additionally, placing the implants under the chest muscle instead of between the muscle and tissue can prevent significant damage to the milk ducts and nerves. The breast tissues support and protect the milk ducts and other milk-producing regions. Keeping them intact can lead to an increased quantity of milk.
While discussing the milk production part with your surgeon, it is important to mention why you have opted for the augmentation to better plan the procedure. In cases of congenital or surgical excision of breasts for chemo or prophylaxis, there could be stunted growth or complete severing of the milk glands and nerves. In these cases, milk production is not possible, even with implants. Similarly, milk production and subsequent breastfeeding may not be an option in cases of trauma or burn-related breast tissue scarring because of damage to the nerves and breast ducts.
Are implants harmful to the infant?
Breast implants are mostly silicone shells filled with saline or silicone gel. While it is widely believed that silicone can mix with milk, forming a diluted version of milk and plastic, it is not. As long as the silicone is placed under the chest muscles, there is no risk of affecting the infants or the milk quality.
Silicone, though a synthetic substance, contains silicon, a naturally occurring substance, as its main element. It has been proven non-toxic in the medical industry in the form of tubes, nipple shields and breast implants. Various studies testing the milk quality of breastfeeding mothers have not found any trace of silicon in the milk. There has not been any sign of developmental delay in infants breastfeeding from mothers with implants. It has been proved that there is more silicon in cow’s milk than in milk from mothers with breast implants.
Effect of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding on Breast Implants
No studies have proven any adverse effect of pregnancy on breast implants. Pregnancy leads to a swelling of the breast tissue that, after delivery, becomes thin, giving rise to sagging breasts. Also referred to as ‘Breast Ptosis,’ it occurs whether implants are present. But the presence of silicone reduces the effects of sagging to some extent. In simpler terms, women with breast implants experience less noticeable sagging than those without them.
Some women deal with it by exercising. This helps them stay fit, lose the baby fat easily and reduce breast ptosis effects. Some opt for larger implants to deal better with the situation. There have been cases where women have opted for another surgical uplift procedure to achieve better results.
As implants do not impact breastfeeding, vice-versa is also true. Breastfeeding does not negatively impact or ruin the implants in any way. The changes will happen within the breast tissue without touching the implants. Though made of silicone, implants are implanted in such a way as to be protected by multiple layers of muscles, tissue and cartilage. The baby cannot damage or rupture the implants during breastfeeding. Also, the expanding and contracting process in the tissues will not sag or distort them.
Some women with implants report extreme soreness and pain during the breastfeeding procedure. But the same has been experienced by women without breast implants as well. So it can safely be said that breastfeeding will not impact your implants. You can opt for pregnancy, breastfeed and use a breast pump without compromising your implants. There is a decrease in the quantity of milk sometimes due to the implant presence or placement techniques. That can be dealt with in several ways.
How to breastfeed better with implants?
Multiple feeding times work best, whether with or without implants. But they have been proven especially beneficial in breastfeeding ladies with implants. Feeding the baby numerous times a day can compromise the lesser milk produced and regulate the baby’s growth, weight and other parameters. The suckling sensation can release hormones promoting milk production. Additionally, the baby will benefit from the antibodies and other health benefits provided by each suckling session.
Alternate feeding from either breast is another critical factor that can benefit both the mother and the implants. Alternate feeding will ease the pressure on the breasts by optimizing milk production during breastfeeding. This will cause less inconvenience to the mother. Alternate feeding will also help provide a uniform look to the breasts and reduce the breast sagging of the dominant breast.
Pumping is another method that can be safely tried during breastfeeding without impacting the implants. Pumping consists of emptying the breasts either manually or through pumping mechanisms. This method ensures an adequate supply of milk to the babies whether or not it is breastfeeding. It also increases the quality of milk and the nourishment provided to the baby through it.
Apart from these methods, formula and supplements are other ways to reduce the pressure on the breasts during breastfeeding. The formula reduces the baby’s dependence on breast milk, while supplements help increase milk production. Either of these methods helps in the long life of the implants by easing the mother with any breastfeeding issue.
Studies have proved that you can safely breastfeed with implants. The implants are not affected by pregnancy, breastfeeding or breast tissue changes. What is impacted to some extent is the milk production and the breasts’ overall shape due to sagging skin. This can be dealt with using supplements and breast utilization techniques. Lifestyle changes or further surgical interventions can treat the sagging skin. Either way, women can conveniently opt for breast implants before getting pregnant. What is important is clarifying the surgical procedure method with the surgeon so as not to let breast augmentation with implants come in the way of breastfeeding. In this regard, you can consult Bizrahmed to be assured of having hassle-free breast enlargement in Dubai.