Breast implants and galactorrhea

Even if complications remain an exceptional phenomenon, some risks still exist. Those risks will be reviewed with your plastic surgeon during the initial consultation.

Galactorrhea after a breast enlargement

The appearance of a milky discharge or effusion following a breast augmentation rarely occurs, especially when the patient is not pregnant, has not given birth recently and is not undergoing hormone therapy.

A recent study (Basile FV, Basile AR. Diagnosis and management of galactorrhea after breast augmentation) found eight cases of galactorrhea among 832 patients who had undergone a breast augmentation using prosthesis.

The galactorrhea disappeared after one to three weeks in five of the patients. The galactoceles had been drained. In all cases, the discharge had dried up after eight weeks. The breasts of all patients were soft one year after the operation.

Treatment of galactorrhea

The cause of galactorrhea and postoperative galactoceles remains a mystery. The use of opiates or certain anaesthetic drugs may play a role. Once galactorrhea is identified, all conditions associated with hyperprolactinaemia (such as renal failure, pituitary tumours and hypothyroidism) must be ruled out. If prolactin levels exceed 100 mg/mL, an MRI may be needed to check for pituitary tumours. If the patient suffers from a galactocele, treatment involving a lactation inhibitor (bromocriptine) may prove effective.

Causes of galactorrhea

Normally, prolactin is secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. Secretion is controlled by the hypothalamus. It is provoked by irritation of the chest wall, nipple stimulation and psychological stress. Mammoplasties, burns, herpes and spinal cord trauma can all cause hyperprolactinaemia and galactorrhea.

Surgery via the areola and swelling of the chest caused by the prosthesis may also stimulate prolactin production. The study (mentioned here above) of prolactin secretion in 15 women both before and after breast augmentation showed no abnormalities, however.

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