Breastfeeding and Implants: What are the Risks?

Whether you already have implants or are considering them, you may wonder how it will affect your ability to breast feed.  Fortunately, the chances of impairment are very low, but you may want to consider the fact that in the event that there is damage, it could affect not just you, but your child as well.

So how do I mitigate this risk?
The number one factor that determines the risk of losing your ability to breastfeed is the way in which the implant is installed.  Implants are installed mainly 4 ways: through a transumbilical incision (through the belly button), transxillary (through the armpit), inframammary (underneath the breast), and periareolar (through the nipple).  Out of the four, periareolar incisions carry the highest risk of permanent damage.  Although installing the implant through the areola leaves the smallest scar, the removal and sewing of it back on can lead to severed nerves, which could cut off signals to the brain telling it to produce oxytocin and prolactin, enzymes which tell the brain when to eject milk and produce it, respectively.  Although the occurrence of this is a little under 1%, you may still find that it’s not worth the risk since human milk has been shown to be more vital to infants’ health than “formula” milk. 

What’s so bad about synthetic milk?
Because recent studies over the past decade have found that human milk contains a number of antibodies that help guard newborns against pathogens, allergies, immune system related diseases, and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  One study even found that babies that were fed formula milk were up to 14 times more at risk of being hospitalized within their first year.  Now the chances of your baby having SIDS is extremely low, but in the event that it does happen, would you really want the psychological challenge of dealing with the fact that your baby died because you had breast implants?

What about silicone poisoning?
People have labeled silicone implants as the culprit for everything from dizziness to auto-immune deficiency and even cancer.  However, the FDA commissioned a decade long study that, although only half way completed, has so far found them to be “reasonably safe.”  The authors of the study claim that silicone molecules are too large to be absorbed by surrounding veins and capillaries, and many doctors purport that silicone could even be helpful since it is similar to a substance that is used to treat stomach gas in babies. 

However, you may want to take these results with a grain of salt since that FDA study was funded by Allergan and Mentor, both major manufacturers of breast implants.  The choice is yours, so consult your physician about any other possible risks that you may incur from breast augmentation.  The breast implant industry is constantly changing, so it would be pertinent to stay abreast (pun intended) of the situation. 

Eirc Hirota is a personal trainer at LAVA Sport & Fitness in San Diego, CA. This article was written by a guest author. Would you like to write for us?

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