Risks of Breastfeeding with Breast Implants

Are children who are breast-fed by mothers with silicone breast implants affected during either breastfeeding or pregnancy? This is a major concern for young mothers who have had breast augmentation in the past, and are now looking to safely breastfeed their newborn. Concern that silicone gel may be transmitted to the breast tissues, lymph nodes, and possibly more distant sites is reasonable especially in cases of silent rupture. In addition, mothers with breast implants might also have problems with breastfeeding due to the effects of implant surgery on the breast duct connections to the nipple or fear of lactation insufficiency. There are very little studies that either support or disapprove breastfeeding with breast implants. 

Breastfeeding after breast augmentation surgery

Dr. Randall Feingold  is a renowned expert in breast reconstruction and microsurgery, and founder of NYBRA Plastic Surgery in New York. He explains that during breast augmentation surgery, breast implants are placed between your chest wall and your breast, avoiding interference with the breast ducts or mammary glands from which milk is excreted. Even if some glandular tissue is removed during a breast lift, in most cases enough breast tissue is left to enable milk production after surgery. However, while breast surgery doesn’t mean you can’t breastfeed, there is no guarantee that the mother will have a full supply of milk.

Milk supply may also be affected by the type of incision used during breast surgery. Incisions used for a breast lift may sever the nerves and ducts that connect the breast and the nipple that are stimulated by nursing.  If the incisions are under the fold of the breast or through the armpit, you should not have any problems breastfeeding. But if the incision is around the areola, you may have problems as there’s a chance that milk ducts may have been affected. 

Can Silicone gel enter breast milk?

According to a NIH study the transport of substances such as drugs, chemicals and even alcohol into breast milk from the mother’s circulatory system depends on variables that may change within the unique context of the situation. For example, the lipid solubility of the substances, as well as the pH of the milk, will affect the concentration of the drug or chemical substances in maternal milk.

Similarly, Dr. Henry Dijkman from Germany, shared his 20 years of extensive studies on assessment of silicone migration during the Breast Implants Health Summit  2021. His conclusion –  Silicone substances bleed into the entire body after breast augmentation surgery, causing a chronic inflammatory reaction. These silicone particles are reaching the entire body and are not limited to the breast. Silicone bleed increases dramatically if the patient has a breast rupture. The longer the implants are the faster the biodegradation in the body. Degraded silicone molecules are very reactive with the tissue thus more toxic, according to Dr. Dijkman.

 

In addition, FDA’s  adverse reports confirm that drugs, chemical and heavy metals are present in nursing mothers. These include a variation of medications (anticoagulants, antimetabolites, antithyroid agents), narcotics, and radioactive agents. Even alcohol and caffeine achieve low concentrations in maternal plasma, which are the same as those in maternal milk – this is consistent with Dr. Dijlkman’s studies of migration of substances such as silicone to the entire body including the breasts.

Another report by The NIH says that silicone could enter breast milk through direct extension from deposits in breast tissue, but also state at the same time that “ there is no evidence that this is other than a rare event”. 

FDA Adverse Event Reports

These 339 FDA reports (2006) described maternal-child adverse events. Nearly 46% described actual problems with breastfeeding or expressed concern that implants would be unsafe or interfere with breastfeeding. 44% of reports described either nonspecific or specific signs, symptoms, or illnesses in children. An additional 3.5% of reports detailed a congenital anomaly be Riskslieved by the reporter to be caused by breast implants, though not conclusively proven. These are obviously very small numbers in the context of millions of women with breast implants. 

What women share on social media

Women in various facebook groups such as  (Dr Randall Feingold’s Breast Implant Illness support group )  and instagram accounts have shared their experience of breastfeeding with breast implants. The majority of women who shared their experience claim that their infant had more health issues during and after breastfeeding with breast implants. One story in particular stood out – a woman with 4 children who have breastfed all of them during the first few months. Her first 2 children were conceived and born prior to her breast augmentation. They are very healthy,  while the last two who were breastfed after the breast augmentation have been suffering from autoimmune illness. 

Another woman shared with me that after having a breast augmentation she had three babies and all of her three children were borned with various degrees of Autism. 

Final Note

There is continuing concern that women during their reproductive years, who receive breast implants may be at increased risk for adverse reproductive outcomes or experience problems with breastfeeding. It is unknown whether exposure to biomaterials in breast implants may cause birth defects or abnormalities in a developing embryo. leach into breast milk, thus affecting the newborn. Most Google search results are downplaying these risks, while focusing mostly on the technicality of breastfeeding with breast implants. The fact is that most studies in the US are not conclusive, or involve a small group of women.

“This is not an easy subject to make recommendations on since there are so many women with implants and so few reports of breastfeeding problems. Impact on prenatal/postnatal development has not been studied to allow anyone to draw conclusions; anecdotal opinions of individuals are difficult to put into context.”  Dr. RandallFeingold

There are still uncertainties when it comes to evaluating the safety of breastfeeding with breast implants. This is one of these moments in life when a mother should use her own intuition and discretion.

Studies and sources

1.Breastfeeding and Pumping with Breast Implants | MIlk101 | Ameda.

2. Effects On Pregnancy, Lactation, and Children – Safety of Silicone Breast Implants – NCBI Bookshelf

3. Breastfeeding With Breast Implants | Feeding Your Baby | Start for Life.

4. Breast implant surveillance reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: maternal-child health problems

5. Effects On Pregnancy, Lactation, and Children – Safety of Silicone Breast Implants – NCBI Bookshelf

6. Lactation Outcomes in More Than 3500 Women Following Primary Augmentation: 5-Year Data From the Breast Implant Follow-Up Study

7. Breast Feeding with Implants and Effects on Children

8. Dr. Henry Jenny Presentation on The Myths of Breast Implants

9. Breast Feeding

10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6417552/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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