When considering whether to have breast implant surgery, you should take your future plans for childbearing and breastfeeding into consideration.
Although some researchers believe that having breast implants may harm a growing fetus, there is a lack of research to determine if this is true. Researchers who believe that implants can result in autoimmune issues or birth defects in children have several theories: 1) silicone molecules travel through the placenta from mother to baby, 2) mothers form antibodies from silicone exposure that transfer to their fetuses, and 3) autoimmune issues experienced by the mother are inherited by the baby. However, there are not enough well-done studies to prove that any of these theories are true.
There are other reasons why women who are planning to get pregnant may want to avoid breast implants. Pregnancy can cause drastic changes in breast size and shape, so having implants may affect the shape of breasts after the baby is born. When breast implants are initially placed, the surgeon normally uses the natural shape of the breast as a guide. After pregnancy and breastfeeding, implants may no longer enhance the look of the breast in the way that they did before.
Breastfeeding has many health benefits for an infant, including immune strengthening, neurological development, and nutritional intake. Additionally, the skin-to-skin contact during feeding promotes bonding between a mother and child. Studies indicate that women with breast implants may find it difficult to produce enough milk due to pressure on the milk ducts from implants or damage to mammary glands or ducts during the implant surgery. For example, several studies show that women with implants were more likely to need to supplement their baby’s diet with formula, because they were unable to produce enough breast milk to feed their baby. This information is important for any woman who plans to become pregnant in the future, and especially for women who previously had difficulty with breastfeeding.
Mothers with silicone implants have expressed concern that silicone could get into their breast milk. However, researchers are not certain whether silicone leaking out of an implant could be ingested by an infant during feeding.
All articles are reviewed and approved by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, and other senior staff.
- Bondurant, S, et al. “Safety of Silicone Breast Implants.” National Academies Press, 1999, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44782/
- Schiff, M., Algert, C., Ampt, A., Sywak, M., & Roberts, C. (2014). The impact of cosmetic breast implants on breastfeeding: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Breastfeeding Journal, 9(1), 17-17. doi:10.1186/1746-4358-9-17