Breast Feeding With Implants

Documentation Report By Pierre J. J. B. Blais, B. Sc., Ph.D., C. Chem., F.C.I.C.

Breast Feeding and Prostheses

Breast prostheses have been implanted in large numbers for more than forty years and users have ranged from late adolescence to individuals of advanced age. The socio-economic profile of this cohort is tilted towards individuals with an age range of 25-40 and is rapidly dropping as promotion targets an even younger, image conscious population. Fertility and lactation concerns for such a group may not be at the forefront when a decision is made to undergo implantation. However, the issue resurfaces several years post-implantation as pregnancies develop in a significant fraction of users. Nearly all consumer oriented material as well as surgeons’ reinforce the view that breast feeding is not only possible but desirable even for implanted patients. Implanted mothers therefore expect to retain their capacity to safely breast feed.

Such an expectation is illogical. Implantation of a foreign object in the breast irreversibly modifies the breast structure. Even with removal of the prosthesis, the structure and physiology of the gland are not restored to their original state. The very act of inserting such an object in the breast has lasting and irreversible consequences, all of which militate strongly against safe breast feeding. The changes greatly increase the probability of complications to the user as the breast engorges and tissue is strained. Concurrent physiologic and chemical changes in the breast area impact adversely on the amount and quality of milk produced by lactating mothers where insertion of a foreign object and extensive surgery has been performed.

The belief that breast feeding is possible and safe for implant users is novel thinking. In the sixties and seventies, breast feeding was not deemed desirable for implant users. Some physicians did not even regard it as possible. Their views were based on clinical, biomechanical, biochemical and physiologic considerations. Prostheses had mechanically damaging features known to modify the breast eventually damaging the vasculature and the lactation apparatus over the long term. The high impurity levels associated with implants, in particular oils similar to what had been used in connection with injected silicone augmentation, were known to impact adversely on lactation. The experience of oil-injected patients produced sufficient information to support the view that prosthetically modified breasts were unsuited for breast feeding.

In the following years, the issue remained dormant and no major investigation was performed. Instead, hearsay and fiction surrounded the issue and it became accepted amongst the lay public and some general practitioners that cosmetically augmented mothers could breast feed without problems. Specialists in surgery of the breast, and in particular plastic surgeons, knew otherwise but the information was not shared.

European publications of the seventies contraindicated breast feeding based on empirical data gathered from users of the previous decade. The advice against breast feeding was more a matter of cosmetic and comfort as opposed to risk to infants. It was reasoned that avoidance of breast feeding would minimize post-lactation ptosis, breast involution and connective tissue distention within the cosmetically modified breast. Microbiological issues were considered but not given prominence but it was recognized that colonization of the implant site and intracapsular mastitis would be factors that could spread to the lactation apparatus with time.

Collapse of the lactation system is a logical expectation from surgical damage incidental to implant insertion and gross contamination of the breast by dispersible reactive debris. Similar results are expected from the introduction of implants that exert continuous pressure on the breast gland and the vasculature. Chronic, uncontrollable fibrosis further complicate the situation. Combination of these factors with recurrent low level infective processes will alter the gland over time and severe discomfort is expected upon engorgement prior to lactation.

Anatomic, biomechanical and physiologic considerations of the prosthetically modified breast clearly demonstrate why breast feeding is impractical and destructive. The use of a retromammary implant eventually causes pressure atrophy of the breast gland and collapse of the ducts which convey fluid to the nipple. This is known within some circles who have noted that there is chronic swelling of the nipple areolar complex in augmented patients. The phenomenon persists for many years until necrotic processes drastically diminish the fluid transport within the anterior of the breast. It is rare when atrophy is not present in surgically augmented breasts after implants have been in situ for 2-4 years. Irrigation within the critical area is reduced and large prominent veins appear in the periphery of the breast implant, usually close to the skin. Compression causes focal ischemia and oxygen depletion. These factors militate towards failure of the milk-producing system.

Upon cessation of breast feeding, the breast returns to its initial augmented volume but tissues and ligaments are stretched and the patient re-encounters ptosis and involution of the gland, further reducing the breast volume. Thus, the cosmetic benefits of the augmentation may be lost and re-do surgery to regain the esthetic effect may be undertaken.

Formal fertility and lactation studies have never been conducted rigorously by opponents or proponents of breast feeding. Only superficial surveys and anecdotal claims of successful breast feeding by individuals who had recently received implants appear in the literature. The work is oriented at reassurinq prospective unsophisticated implant candidates as opposed to documenting the impact of breast feeding on existing implant users and infants.

Breast prostheses are not conventional medical products. Throughout the years they have been a heterogeneous mixture of low quality products with high levels of impurities and features which made their users vulnerable to chronic adverse processes. They induce infections that can remain dormant for many years, producing  destructive local effects and high quantities of microbiological metabolites. The capsule around the implant does not impede dissemination of prosthetic debris. It only delays release. Capsules deteriorate and remodel with time to eventually release their content. Even popular contracture treatments foster infective  complications by releasing entities captive within the intracapsular space thus spreading the effect of colonization to distal parts of the breasts.

Evidence of necrosis and tissue degeneration surrounding implants is found in nearly all users with implant dwell times exceeding three years. This is seen in mammographic studies where large quantities of calcific debris are shown associated with tissue deterioration and fat necrosis. Such effects strongly militate against breast feeding.

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Catherine Brent

    Thank you for getting this information out there. I am a child (now adult) that was breastfed by my mother with implants. My younger sister and I had and continue to have health issues that were linked to my mom’s implants. Her 4 children before implants are in good health. We also have high levels of platinum like my mother. My older siblings don’t. Thank you for continuing the fight that my mom no longer can.

  2. Cherie Suvacarov

    I am crying while writing this, it is so upsetting . I breast fed both my children with implants. My daughter, the first was constantly throwing up after breast feeding, crying and never seemed to get enough milk. I was told by doctors that she had an over active gag reflex. She still has stomach issues to this day and she is 22. My son, did not have this issue but that does not men he was not investing god knows what too. . They need to start testing breastmilk on woman with implants and do extensive studies to see what these babies are actually ingesting., What are the long term complications on these children, are they like BII symptoms? This makes me sick and so sad. All I wanted to do was provide my kids with the best possible start in life, with what nature has provided for them naturally. To know I did the complete opposite because of my own stupid vanity and implants is heart wrenching and sickens me.

    1. cherie suvacarov

      correction to above .** My son, did not have the same issues but that does not MEAN he was not INGESTING…….

      was crying while writing and did not proof read. SO UPSETTING

  3. Angela

    Reading this is devestating. I nursed two babies with my implants and was told it was safe :,( my second youngest only lasted 3 weeks before he was hospitalized from throwing up and dehydrating. They thought he was lactose intolerant so wanted me to go lactose free. I did for a while but it didn’t help so I weaned him. My 4 year old daughter I nursed for 6 months. She had many digestive issues as well and I had to give her digestive enzymes each time I fed her. I fought with all I had to get her the milk that I was told was best for her for 6 months, supplementing with other mothers milk because ex I could never produce quite enough even though I did everything right. She had 4 total surgeries for lip and tongue tie, the last was a laser and that one finally took cate of it but now I’m wondering if her latching issues were because of my implants. Sitting here bawling because I fed my babies poison. :,(

  4. Donna

    I wish I’d found this info prior to nursing my last baby 12 yrs ago. I nursed her with 1 yr old implants, praying they were too new to leach toxins!!! I have 5 kids and got implants after #4 thinking we were done. My last little blessing deserved the best milk too, so I risked messing up perky breast to give her what I thought was best. Now I wonder if I was feeding her poison. This makes me really… 😢 It was hard as hell getting enough milk but I was determined. She was at the breast every 2 hrs around the clock to produce enough milk. I could have a little cry reading this info. Ugh

  5. Sylvie Bergeron

    J’ai allaité mes filles sans problème. J’avais du lait a profusion. Aujourd’hui elles sont adultes et en parfaite santé..En tout cas pour l’instant

  6. Aural

    I had two sons prior to my breast augmentation and I had no problems with them latching or production of milk. Then I had two more children with my implants and they had problems latching, minimal to no milk production and I had mastitis. My daughter latched but could not maintain it, it’s as if she didn’t like the milk. Makes me wonder if it tasted bad. I’m scheduled to remove my implants after having them for 10 yrs. and am so glad.

  7. Michele

    I hear you. My daughter would latch and I know I had milk because it was always leaking and even squirting. But she wasn’t happy part way through feeding. More worrisome is what have I done to her in the long term? She is a grown woman with lots of the same symptoms as my own BII. I feel so angry and sad. Helpless.

  8. Felicia

    Reading this just makes me want to cry. I can’t believe that all the struggles I went through when I was breast feeding (and blamed on myself) were probably due to my implants. How awful that my son and I were robbed of that safe, nurturing bonding experience… I remember thinking he might have a tongue lip tie and even got him a minor surgery for it to no avail. This makes me so upset. Nobody told me it could be due to implants.

    1. Racheal

      I had 3 children, from PO 9 years to 16 years Post-op. It was when I was pregnant with the third and last child, at about 15 yrs post-op, my left implant ruptured. A year later, when I was weaning her, the right breast developed mastitis and swelled a lot, then the capsular contraction contracted again and the implant collapsed. 5 years later, December 1 2020, I was being evaluated for BIA-ALCL and had gotten a biopsy in the right breast. 10 days later, the site began to swell, as did the implant or capsule, and then another 3 days later, fluid either trapped in the implant or in the seroma, made its way through the biopsy site. 8 oz of orange fluid was released, and then the area started draining brown/tan pus. I spent 2 days in Emergency Rooms and had received at least 5 IVs of antibiotics, before being booked for emergency explant a few days ago, 12/18/2020. There was a large amount of infection in the right breast, so they only removed it to prevent the spread of infection to the other breast. I am to have the left breast implant and capsule removed after the right is healed and all signs of infection are gone. I am so worried about my daughter now, as she was in utero during the first rupture and then breastfed from a ruptured breast, and was being weaned at the time of the other’s rupture. My boys did not do well breastfeeding, I had to supplement and then they chose the bottle at around 6 months. My daughter preferred the ruptured breast and was solely breastfed until 14 months, when the other ruptured.
      At the time they were implanted, I had chosen a method known as TUBA, Trans-Umbilical Breast Augmentation, as it was the “safest, least invasive and destructive” to breast tissue, as the implants were placed between skin and muscle and no incisions were made to the breast, no tissue, nerves, or mammary glands were damaged. The doctor had been doing plastic surgery for about 40 years and had performed at least 100,000 breast implant augmentations. He guaranteed that this was the safest way to go, especially for women who didn’t have children and wanted to retain breast feeding abilities.

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