Most of my patients are concerned that they will be able to retain the ability to breast feed after they have breast augmentation surgery. Although it is possible that scar tissue that develops from any breast operation can interfere with a woman’s future ability to breast feed, this is a rare event. Rarely discussed, and likely under reported, is the occurrence of spontaneous lactation following cosmetic breast augmentation (i.e. lactation in women who have not just delivered a baby). I have heard anecdotal reports of women who start to lactate in one or both breasts in the months following breast augmentation surgery. New moms possess the ability to lactate for many months after they stop breast feeding their child. In fact, I have had patients who still pass a small amount of breast milk up to two years after cessation of breast feeding. That is why I generally recommend waiting a minimum of six months (after stopping breast feeding) prior to having any cosmetic breast operation, if possible.
A review article in the plastic surgery literature looked specifically at the issue of spontaneous lactation following breast augmentation (Caputy & Flowers, Aesth. Plast. Surg. 18: 393-397, 1994). The authors retrospectively reviewed 1000 breast augmentation patients and found the following:
1) 8/1000 developed copious spontaneous lactation soon after surgery.
2) Lactation occurred in these patients an average of 6.6 days after surgery.
3) Lactation lasted an average of 5.2 days.
4) None of the affected patients used oral birth control medication.
5) 2/8 patients had previous breast augmentation surgery performed.
6) 1/8 was nulliparous (had never been pregnant prior to surgery)
7) The number of prior pregnancies was noted to be significantly higher in the women who lactated after surgery.
8) Blood hormone levels (i.e Prolactin) were not evaluated in these patients, since the lactation stopped spontaneously in all cases.
The important message here is that if you happen to develop spontaneous lactation after breast augmentation surgery, you should notify Dr. Brenner. Most of these cases resolve spontaneously. Those that do not may require a simple blood test to check hormone levels.