In a study conducted by the University of Sydney and the Kolling Institute, women who had cosmetic breast surgery (for reasons other than medical reconstruction) were as much as 20% less likely to breastfeed their children if they gave birth after the surgery.
In their study, which followed 378,389 women in Australia, they discovered that while 9 out of 10 women who had not had breast augmentation were breastfeeding when they went home after birth, only 8 in 10 women breastfed if they had previously had breast augmentation surgery. This was thought to have several possible reasons, such as, that the mother worried that the baby would be exposed to the silicone in the implants, that the mother did not want to compromise the appearance of her breasts after surgery, or that there may have been complications in the surgery that affected the milk ducts and supply.
Fortunately, most of these concerns are not based in fact. Most women, even after breast augmentation surgery can successfully breastfeed. There is little risk that the implant will contaminate the milk, and typically the appearance of the breast should not change much beyond what happens in pregnancy. One potential problem is if the surgeon made the incision in the nipple area, rather than at the underside or side of the breast, as that may disturb the milk ducts and cause problems with lactation. The other contraindication for breastfeeding after surgery is if a woman had a mastectomy for medical reasons and reconstructive surgery after, as that removes the milk producing ducts entirely.
Some doctors have taken this study to mean that women should be advised to avoid cosmetic breast enhancement surgery until after their child bearing years, since the mothers will be statistically less likely to attempt breastfeeding. However, if a woman is thoroughly informed about the potential risks involved, and avoids breastfeeding for at least 10 months after the surgery (because she is technically still healing until then) there should be no reason that she can not have the surgery and still breastfeed her baby when the time comes.
In most cases, if a woman chooses to have breast augmentation and later has a baby, she should be able to breastfeed if she wants to. The key is patient and caregiver education. Many people, including healthcare workers, are unaware that breastfeeding is possible after surgery, and that it carries little risk to mother or baby. Some healthcare providers are passing along erroneous information to potential nursing mothers, and the only way to correct this is through information and education.