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Topic: Reconstruction

Breastfeeding with Implants: Myths Debunked

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One of the most common questions I receive when consulting patients on breast implants is whether or not the surgery will impede their ability to breast feed. Whether you are a new mother or just considering having children in the future, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your implants could affect how you feed your newborn. In reality, a lot of the negative dialogue surrounding breast implants and breastfeeding has no scientific basis.

The Myths

There are many myths surrounding breast implants and breastfeeding, including the idea that implants can be “toxic” and have materials that “seep out” into breast milk and affect the milk supply. Another common myth is the idea that it is more difficult or impossible to breast feed after augmentation.

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The Reality

Myth #1: Breast implant surgery can damage the glands and milk ducts, making it difficult or impossible to breastfeed:

Reality: Breast implants properly placed above or underneath the pectoralis muscle should not affect the breast glands, milk ducts or nipple in any way. Although there may be some scarring within the breast tissue after implants placed via the areolae, in the majority of women the ability to breast feed is maintained.

Myth #2: Toxic implants can seep into the milk supply and harm the newborn baby.

Reality: In Canada, breast implants are highly regulated and pose no risk of toxicity. Canadian government guidelines require all breast implants sold in Canada to be tested for toxicity, and Health Canada ensures medical device safety and effectiveness through comprehensive evidence gathered through pre-market review and post-market surveillance. There is also no difference between the health of babies breastfed with natural breasts or those with silicone implants.

Myth #3: Breastfeeding with implants causes the implant to misshape and the breast to sag.
Reality: There is no difference in the aging of a breast after breastfeeding with or without an implant. A Yale University study found that breastfeeding did not lead to sagging of the breast after augmentation. Rather, the study found that the hormonal changes between pregnancy and after birth were most likely to cause sagging. The breast tissue and glands are affected by hormonal changes, not the implants themselves. If unsatisfied with the look and feel of your breasts after pregnancy, this can be rectified with a breast lift.

Like all surgical procedures, there are risks involved with breast implant surgery, however it is important to understand that your ability to breastfeed will not be impeded by a successful breast implant surgery. Further, a breast implant poses no risk to a newborn infant. Some women are unable to breastfeed their babies for a variety of reasons, regardless of implant surgery. If you’re experiencing difficulties, consult a doctor on alternative options to traditional breastfeeding.

When considering breast augmentation or reconstructive surgery, make sure your surgeon is certified and experienced with a history of successful and safe operations. Some questions to ask include the number of times a surgeon has performed the operation, why the surgeon recommends a certain type of implant, how the surgeon has dealt with complications in the past, and discuss any potential risks. RateMDs and realself are great sites to consult when considering potential surgeons.

 

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BRA Day 2016

October is always an important month for me, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) and Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day here in Vancouver falls on October 19th. Meeting and working with breast cancer survivors to guide them through breast reconstruction is a rewarding aspect of my job, and for the past few years I’ve been involved in organizing and hosting Vancouver’s BRA Day to raise awareness around breast reconstruction procedures.

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BRA Day is a program put on by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. BRA Day was founded to support education, awareness and access for women considering post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

This year, I hosted the 6th annual BRA day at the VGH Paetzhold Pavillion. I was thrilled with the turnout and sense of community. As with past years, we had a Show and Tell safe space where breast cancer survivors revealed their reconstructed breasts and plastic surgeons like myself answered questions. BRA Day allows breast cancer survivors to gain information on the surgical options and talk to women who have gone through the same experience.

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This week I filmed a segment for Global with Amanda McNally from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) . The segment discussed breast reconstruction techniques and resources for women in B.C. It was a pleasure to speak with Sophie Lui from Global and continue the BRA Day conversation. You can view the full segment on Global.

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Amanda McNally, myself, and Sophie Lui in the Global studio

I also recently sat down with the Globe and Mail to discuss the issues with wait times for breast reconstruction in Canada. Currently, breast cancer survivors seeking breast reconstruction in Canada can wait anywhere from one to five years for their operations. Women at high risk for breast cancer seeking prophylactic surgery with mastectomy and reconstruction can wait 1 to 2 years, which can actually lead to these same women to get breast cancer while waiting for the surgery. These waiting times are an issue that must be addressed with dedicated operative time and more surgeons.

I look forward to continuing to work with breast cancer survivors and engaging in the dialogue around breast reconstruction options. You can visit the official BRA Day website for more information on the initiative and how to get involved by donating or volunteering.

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